Th!nk delivers first US-built car, adds four-seat model - Update

Th!nk has developed a four-seat version of the Th!nk City that will first be available in Europe (interior shot above). The Th!nk City is one of the first mass-produced electric vehicles (EV) available for sale. Production began in 2010 at Th!nk's Indiana production facility using lithium-ion batteries from Ener 1. The first of the US-built Th!nks were delivered to Indiana Governor Daniels for use in the state's Department of Natural Resources (the state's park system - photo after the jump). The Th!nk City has been utilized mostly in commercial and government fleets, but will be available in the US for public sale at a later date.

Source: Th!nk - Press releases after the jump. Previous post.

Press Release: 
The latest generation THINK City – now with 2+2 seating

The latest generation THINK City is now available for the first time with four seats, and goes on sale across Europe this month.

Powered by industry-leading lithium-ion battery technology from award-winning battery maker Ener1 in the US, and now with air-conditioning as standard, the latest generation THINK City offers the most complete electric vehicle (EV) package on the road today.

The latest generation model also comes complete with the THINK G4 EV DRIVE CONTROLLER – the heart of THINK technology. THINK G4 is the fourth generation proprietary power electronics system underpinning the THINK City EV. It is the most advanced EV system commercially available anywhere in the world, offering key benefits such as enhanced technical safety, improved real world range, efficiency gains and improved functionality and flexibility.

With the additional reassurance of a five-year warranty (or 100,000km – whichever occurs first) on both the car and the battery, there has never been a better time to enter the new and exciting world of EVs.

“At the heart of everything THINK does is flexibility to the customer – and we have just taken this a step further this Christmas with the introduction for the first time of the 2+2 seating configuration. Want to take the kids to school? You’ve got it! You need to carry a heavy load? No problem, the seats stow away giving largely the same load space as before,” said THINK Chief Marketing Officer, Michael Lock. “These advantages, coupled with our technical enhancements make the THINK City unquestionably the most attractive EV on the market.”

The THINK City is the world’s first EV to be granted pan-European regulatory safety approval and is homologated for sale as a passenger car across the continent. It is a zero emissions pure battery EV, built on a dedicated lightweight platform and designed as a modern urban car. It can travel at highway speeds of up to 110 km/h and cover 160 kilometres on a single charge with zero local emissions.

Press Release:
THINK delivers its first U.S.-built electric cars

THINK, the world’s leading dedicated electric vehicle maker, has delivered its first U.S.-built cars to the State of Indiana for use in its government fleet. The 15 vehicles, which were shipped from THINK’s manufacturing facility in Elkhart, Ind., will be the first electric passenger vehicles with American-made, Lithium-ion batteries used in a U.S. fleet operation.

“We’re proud to be the first manufacturer to deliver an all-electric car built in the U.S. with an advanced battery that suits the needs of government and commercial fleet operators,” said THINK CEO Barry Engle. “Our delivery today is part of a larger effort to help transform the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet from one that is mostly dependent on imported oil, to one that is fueled entirely by domestically produced electric energy.”

“As part of that goal, we’ve made a strategic decision to target initially the many millions of fleet vehicles in operation in the U.S. market,” Mr. Engle added. “These fleets can jumpstart vehicle electrification in America’s cities and help push the industry past early adopters into mainstream consumer markets. Fleet sales will drive up vehicle and battery production volumes and drive down costs, which will benefit retail consumers.”

The economics of electric vehicles for fleet operators in terms of cost of ownership are highly positive. With defined travel routes and centralized recharging and service, fleets are the natural platform to launch this new industry.

The THINK City model is an all-electric, zero-emission car designed in Scandinavia for fleet applications and urban commuters. Durable, highly maneuverable and with low maintenance, the THINK City can travel 100 miles on a single charge, using advanced Lithium-ion batteries manufactured in Indiana by Ener1, Inc. The vehicle has accumulated more than 35 million road miles in customer experience since it was first safety certified in Europe in 1999.

The vehicle presentation took place today at Fort Harrison State Park outside of Indianapolis and was presided over by Governor Mitch Daniels (see photo above). The cars were delivered to the Department of Administration and will be used principally by the Department of Natural Resources in the state’s park system.

“THINK found a great place to establish its business in Elkhart, and we’re proud to be the first customer,” said the governor. “We believe that the coming era of electric cars, like the THINK City, will find its home here in Indiana.”

Indiana Department of Administration director Rob Wynkoop, whose agency maintains the state vehicle fleet, said: “We saw this specific green initiative as an opportunity to test alternative energy vehicles in real-life situations. We believe the state parks provide the best locations to test these vehicles.”

Mass deployment of electric vehicles in the state of Indiana is being facilitated by Project Plug-IN, an initiative organized by the Energy Systems Network (ESN), which is creating one of the most advanced ecosystems to support electric transportation in the country.

By early 2011, ESN will place 100 or more electric vehicles and supporting charging infrastructure with government and corporate fleets, as well as selected individual commuters, across the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Project Plug-IN enlists a wide range of industry and government partners to solve technical and regulatory challenges related to preparing communities for electric vehicles and is helping lead the national government-industry dialog to develop deployment community strategies.

“Our goal with Project Plug-IN is the seamless transition for consumers from gas-powered to electric cars,” said ESN President and CEO Paul Mitchell. “To make this happen requires collaboration among vehicle and battery makers, utilities and government agencies at all levels and the willing participation of fleet operators, like the Department of Administration. The response so far has been tremendous.”

THINK plans to roll out retail distribution in select U.S. cities in the second half of 2011. The retail distribution timeline coincides with the company’s plans to expand the production line at its Elkhart facility, where the company currently employs more than 25 local workers. By the end of 2011, THINK will have more than 100 people in Elkhart building electric cars and more than 415 by the end of 2013. The company also builds the THINK City in Finland for sale in Europe.

About Project Plug-IN:
Project Plug-IN is an industry-led, commercial-scale pilot of plug-in electric vehicles and smart grid technology to demonstrate an energy efficient transportation solution for the Indianapolis area. The project includes vehicle and battery manufacturers, electric utilities, smart grid technology firms and research institutions. They are working collaboratively to build a plug-in ecosystem that provides an optimal test bed for accelerating the commercialization of plug-in and smart grid technologies. Phase 1 of the project will include the deployment of more than 100 plug-in vehicles and 250 charging stations across the Indianapolis region by early 2011.

Project Plug-IN is an initiative of the Energy Systems Network, a non-for-profit industry consortium focused on the development of the energy technology sector.

About THINK:
THINK is a pioneer in electric vehicles and a leader in electric vehicle technology, developed and proven over 20 years. This heritage gives THINK a head start with nearly 10,000 electric vehicles on the road and more than 56 million kilometres (35 million miles) of customer experience. The THINK City, the first EV to be granted pan–European regulatory safety approval, is sold across Europe, with sales and production about to start in the US and operations being developed in Asia.

THINK is also a leader in electric drive-system technology, and was the first to offer a modular and flexible EV drive-train solution in the business-to-business sector. With its Scandinavian origins and sustainability mindset, THINK is one of the most carbon-efficient car companies in the world.