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Think Global Gets Investment from GE, Launches TH!NK City, Introduces New Crossover EV Concept and Signs Li-Ion Supply Deal with A123Systems

The TH!NK City.

At the Geneva Motor Show, Norwegian electric car manufacturer Think Global presented a new investment relationship with GE, which is putting $4 million into Think via GE Energy Financial Services to further ramp up GE’s efforts to enable global electrification of transportation.

Think also launched its TH!NK City electric vehicle, unveiled a five-seat crossover concept car—the TH!NK Ox—and announced a commercial supply agreement with lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123Systems. The TH!NK City now offers a choice of three battery packs: a 28 kWh Zebra sodium nickel chloride pack, a 26 kWh Li-ion pack from Enerdel and a 19 kWh Li-ion pack from A123Systems.

GE Energy Financial Services announced it has also invested in A123Systems to help the company roll out batteries for Think. GE is now A123’s largest single cash investor, having put more than $20 million into the company.

The GE Global Research Center has been working with A123 on the development of safe and reliable battery-powered transportation, and this has allowed us to accelerate delivery of advanced battery solutions to Think. Our newest collaboration with Think helps us achieve the large-scale production of batteries and integrate them into commercially available electric vehicles.

—David Vieau, A123Systems’ President and CEO

A123 is now drawing on the research and technology development expertise of GE Global Research in Niskayuna, New York. The joint research will support A123’s battery development, including batteries for Think’s vehicles.

The TH!NK City. The reborn TH!NK City is a three-door, two-seat (two additional rear seats are available as an option) electric vehicle powered by a 30 kW electric motor and a choice of the three battery packs.

Top speed for the vehicle is 100 kph (62 mph). It accelerates from 0-50 kph (31 mph) in 6.5 seconds, and from 0 - 80 kph (50 mph) in 16.0 seconds. Range, which varies with battery pack, is from 130 to 180 kilometers.

TH!NK city will feature a “Mind Box”—a small computer containing both GPS and GPRS functionality. The system transmits state of charge and other vehicle statistics directly to a mobile phone or personal computer. The Mind Box will give the driver direct connection to a customer service function, and will automatically call for assistance when an airbag is deployed. Fleet managers are able to both locate and control the charge rate for all fleet vehicles.

TH!NK City Battery Options
Type Sodium nickel chloride (Zebra) Li-ion
(doped Nanophosphate)
(layered manganese oxide)
Capacity (kWh) 28 19 26
Storage System Density (Wh/kg) 114.3 73.1 100
Range (km/miles) 170/106 130/81 180/112
Nominal Voltage (V) 370 370 370
Weight (kg) 245 260 260

Think Global will own and maintain the battery. The customer pays a monthly fee—approximately €200 (US$305)—which includes a full maintenance service agreement, carbon offset payments and, in some countries, all electricity used, and insurance. Think will exchange the battery when necessary.

Sales begin this spring initially in Norway, followed by Denmark and Sweden later in the year. As production volume ramps up, Think Global will target the main European cities in 2009, starting with London, Paris, Berlin, Milan and Amsterdam. The car will be sold for approximately €20,000 (US$30,500).

The TH!NK Ox.

TH!NK Ox. The TH!NK Ox Crossover is an electric five-seat car close to the size of a sport utility vehicle but lighter and more aerodynamic. The Ox is a platform concept, designed for electric drive vehicles, for both the European, North American and Asian markets. It is the basis for a variety of vehicle styles, starting with the TH!NK Ox Crossover 5-seater.

A space frame concept features the main crash structure and the batteries centrally placed in two compartments in the lower frame. The TH!NK Ox Platform design allows two different standards of battery packs:

  • High stack: two compartments, allows use of low cost, high range sodium batteries;

  • Low stack: gives space for flat Li-ion packs, allows lower/upper frame for sports car and flat flow applications.

The crossover is designed to use a 60 kW motor and a range of 200 km (124 miles) with a top speed of 135 kph (84 mph).

GE announced its electric transportation investments at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference in Washington, DC. The investments were made by GE Energy Financial Services’ recently expanded seven-member venture capital group, with offices in Stamford, CT; San Francisco, CA; and Munich, Germany. That group has invested nearly US $100 million in 12 companies during the last 18 months.

GE’s electric transportation research includes a US$5.6 million US Energy Department contract to develop smaller, lower cost, higher performing hybrid drivetrain motors for hybrid electric vehicles. In addition, GE is working on a US$1.2 million project to develop advanced high temperature, high energy density capacitors. GE researchers are also engaged in a US$13 million project with the US Federal Transit Administration and other industrial partners to build a prototype lightweight, battery-dominant zero emissions hybrid fuel cell bus.


Jerry Z

Have you seen the exciting electric cars available from Zap? Go to right now to see what they have to meet your needs. I recommend the Xebra or the Obvio, which do you like best?


What excites me is that GE has a dog in this race as is evidenced by their funding of these companies. GE has a strong financial incentive to see lots of things get electrified, and is a large cap company capable of going toe to toe with big oil. This could be good news for politics here in the US. Not that GE's motivations are perfect, but they could be a good political counterweight to the Oil Barons.

Henry Gibson

The costs for materials and the production costs for the Zebra batteries in high volume mass production were available on the vanished website. The price of the battery in mass production doubled, during its full life, the price of the electricity that went through it at the time the calculations were done. I might check the wayback site for old papers that I read.

Firefly, Atraverda and EFFPOWER may be able to make batteries from lead that have values that approach the A123 lithium with less complexity and cost, but higher losses and shorter life.

I have been waiting for the ZEBRA battery to dissappear from the market, but it has many advantages over any Lithium battery being built. Fewer cells and self regulating cells and greater durability. LIon batteries have not been tested in intense fires. The competition with LIon cells may lower the price to an affordable level. They should be required in every commercial building for emergency lights. Lead batteries alway fail in a few years, and it would be better to have candles that are lit and extinguished automatically...hg..

Henry Gibson

If someone wants very high torque for accleration in a hybrid car, the air-hydraulic hybrid is probably the cheapest. High power electronics and motors are expensive. Try NOAX and the UPS truck. Parallel hybrids like the Prius are nice but the mechanics are expensive and less efficient.

Integrated wheel motors from a British company keep the weight of their proposed car low and eliminate brake wear and transmission repairs with great acceleration at a price. No one uses fast acceleration as the second or third car at a stop light, and even the first driver is talking on his cell phone. A cheap paid-for used car and expensive gasoline is always easier on the wallet than high car payments. But if you want high tech art, get a Prius. I have followed the TH!NK for several years because of its use of the ZEBRA, but I cannot use it effectivly if it were given to me at even the price of $300 a month for the battery.

The most interesting and possibly useful hybrid in the world was the Steam-diesel hybrid locomotive tested in the Kitson-Still experiment. Steam from either a small diesel fire when first starting or from engine block and exhaust heat after a stop, would start the train and when it was rolling fast enough, fuel was fed to the diesel section of the cylinder to operate the train between stops. Steam was also used for more torque on hills. One fifth the weight of fuel or better was used compared to ordinary steam locomotives. It had no expensive complicated electric motors or generators and had high torque at low speed. Similar engines were used in some ships and stationary power plants. Combined cycle gas turbine generators are their modern versions.

Coke was once required for use in some locomotives in Britain for low smoke. It would be much cheaper to use coke in steam locomotives now than diesel. Actually producer gas made from coke in a tender could replace half or more of the diesel fuel now used in a locomotive. So could compressed natural gas.

This is the diesel that the Chinese should have built to replace their steam locomotives while they were still building a lot of them and knew how to make pistons and boilers. A modern version would condense most of the steam and have electric heaters for the first start...hg...


with gas at $7 per gallon, driving a Prius 1000 miles per month costs me 15 cents per mile. Why would I pay 30 cents per mile for a battery? If I drive less, say 500 miles the cost rises to 60 cents per mile. This only makes sense for taxis or delivery vehicles.



I think Smart has a small hybrid that gets maybe 50 mpg. It is slow and has limited top speed, but the real plus is that it is overpriced :)

Robert Marston

The Ox does look fantastic. As for Th!nk -- looks like the price may be right for the Norwegian market with tax breaks. A little expensive for here, though.


The car is really expensive to start off and with 300 dollars a month after that it seems like its not worth it. I heard that you get 125 miles on one charge. This seems stupid because what do people do if they want to go on a 300 mile trip? will there be "plug" stations instead of gas stations that we will have to pay for per minute of electricity?

david moxness

I never had really high hopes for this whole venture but I had hope. I am still hoping that they are successful in bringing a viable EV to market, but this plan of leasing the batteries seems like it will turn away many potential customers. They will have to sell in volume at some point in order to survive and this approach will make it more difficult to reach meaningful sales numbers fast enough. I really hope that they have "thought" this approach through and are on the right track. Meanwhile several competitors are bringing EV's to market also and if their "plan" is better, life for the Think might be short lived.(again).

Henry Gibson

No new, and especially no new battery electric car, can compete in absolute cost per mile to an old working gasoline car bought used. Norway has a lot of natural gas, oil and hydropower but is constrained by CO2 limits. It is too bad that the production costs of the battery and the car are so high.

A car with the minimum number of cells and the lowest horepower to get to mmost places coupled with a light weight generator for occasional longer distance travel is what most people need. Super high speed and acceleration are seldom needed, but always wanted. In English, "If wishes were horses beggars would ride."...HG....


love the Ox


Interview with Th!nk UK:

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