THINK is not a start-up anymore, though it was one in the beginning of the 1990s when the world experienced a similar recession. Their history is fascinating, with USD 150m invested by US car giant Ford during the companies ownership of the Norwegians, struggling after Ford sold them out in 2003, until in 2006 Norwegian Investinor and other investors bought the company. Under new management and with new strategic goals the company is ready to become a major player in the growing electric vehicle market.
Their vision is to provide a better way of moving, which is carbon and carefree. The result of their vision is an electric city car with a Scandinavian design and modern technology under the hood. The THINK City is manufactured in Finland by Valmet Automotive, who is also a shareholder and strategic partner. It seems the Finns are establishing themselves slowly but surely as a major player in the EV manufacturing segment, a very smart decision. But back to THINK.
THINK currently produces and sells only one model, the THINK City. It is an urban car which can travel up to 180 km on one charge, and has a top speed of 100 km/ h – plenty for the city. It seats two and comes with all the gadgets and safety features you’d expect from a car, and connected to a standard plug it recharges fully over night. The THINK City sells at NOK 285.000 in Norway, that is about EUR 35.000. While the price may seem steep, one needs to remember that the costs for driving will be a fraction of what you pay for gasoline, and thus you safe money in the long term. And with growing output we should see a decrease in price over time.
The Norwegians have two further models in development. The THINK O, pictured on the right, is a five seater, and reading their description it sounds like this is going to be the car for the open source and web savvy person: email, internet, real-time navigation and open source interfaces will make every technology aficionado smile and anticipate this car.
The second concept is a cabriolet which is based upon the THINK City, but made for those who enjoy to feel the sun and wind in their face when driving. It will be equipped with the same technology package as the O, so if you prefer to drive with an open top your decision is made easy. Add in that the Norwegians are cooperating with the London Royal College of Art to design a better car interior and we should be very excited to see what they come up with.
Given that Finns seem to long for freedom from cars I believe this could be an excellent car for our cities. And unlike the Tesla and Fisker Karma the cars are affordable in comparison, and do already exist, today. With Better Place, the provider of EV services, securing millions in funds world wide to roll out their network, THINK and other EV companies are a few steps ahead of the big car manufacturers, who still try to figure out EVs. Considering the company has just announced their plans to open an assembly plant in the USA, with an investment of USD 43.5m to improve facilities, I’d say that this is very successful start-up story.