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Think: Norwegian Car Company Announce Plans For Affordable E.V. In U.S.
The company has partnered with two leading clean-tech venture capital firms, RockPort Capital Partners and Kleiner Perkins, Caulfield and Byers, to form Think North America. The new venture was announced at the 2008 Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference held in Pasadena, California (April 21-22, 2008). The aim of the invitation-only event is to bring industry leaders together to discuss the impact and opportunities presented by the green-movement.
Think North America hope to have their first vehicle, the Think City, in production in the U.S. sometime in 2009. It is likely that the company will be based in Southern California, and that cars will be assembled locally. The electric car, which is currently only available in Norway, is a 100% emission free, battery-powered vehicle. Made of 95% recycled material, it has a top speed of 100 km (65 miles) per hour and can drive up to 180 km (110 miles) on a single charge.
The Think City "is a mass-market vehicle," said Kleiner managing partner, Ray Lane . "Our desire is to be selling 30-40-50,000 of these cars in a couple of years." The two-seater cars, which can be fitted with additional rear seats intended for children, will retail for under $25,000.
Think was founded under the name Pivco (Personal Independent Vehicle Company) in Oslo in 1991. Ford acquired the company in 1999, but sold its stake in 2003 around the same time that General Motors dropped the now mythical EV1, after California passed legislation significantly backtracking on its ZEV (zero-emissions vehicle) mandate. In March of this year General Electric announced an alliance with Think at the Geneva Motor Show, investing $4 million in the EV company, and a further $20 million in A123 Systems, who will manufacture the car's batteries.
Interestingly, in Norway, Think offer a "Mobility Pack" lease program for the car's batteries. Under this business model, Think own the batteries and charge a monthly fee in exchange for a full maintenance, service and replacement plan. They promise to "take responsibility for battery performance throughout the cars life span" for a fee of around 200 EUR (approx $290), which also covers insurance and electricity costs. The move is intended to give customers peace of mind, and maintain the car's re-sale value. It has yet to be announced if a similar program will be available for North American customers.
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