On Earth Day it is appropriate to feature one of the most sustainable products of the future, the electric car. High gas prices and growing environmental consciousness could finally usher in a new era for electric cars. The Tesla Roadster and the TH!NK City, represent the two extremes in electric vehicle choices and they are among the first, if not the first, electric cars scheduled to go into production.
With the announcement, on March 17, that Tesla Motors had achieved their goal of starting regular production of the Tesla Roadster, the company claimed that the modern era of the electric car had begun.
While this is an important milestone for the company and a watershed for the new era of electric vehicles, we still have a lot of work to do. Our key focus with the Roadster will be on gradually ramping up our production in a deliberate and controlled manner reaching a rate of over 100 Roadsters per month early next year.
Ze'ev Drori, President and CEO, Tesla Motors
With a 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 3.9 seconds, a 13,000 rpm redline, the Roadster has the fastest top gear acceleration of any production car tested by Car & Driver magazine in 2007, With an EPA rating of 135 MPG equivalent, the Roadster provides super car performance at twice the energy efficiency. The batteries provide a range of more than 200 miles (333 km) between charges. The Roadster runs on 6,831 laptop computer batteries stuffed in a car, assembled by Britain's Lotus.
More than 1,000 customers have ordered the $98,000 2008 Roadster, according to the company. The estimated base price for the 2009 Roadster is $109,000. Final pricing will be announced just prior to the start of 2009 production.Tesla started production, making one or two cars a week, but it says it will steadily increase production to around 100 cars a month by early next year. Tesla had to delay production by about six month primarily due problems with the transmission. The company is now involved with lawsuits with both suppliers and competitors.
Think Global, the Norwegian electric car producer, along with RockPort Capital Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, announced this Monday plans to introduce the TH!INK City to the North American Market in 2009.
The TH!NK city is currently produced in Norway and international sales are scheduled to begin in Scandinavia, with Switzerland and France also being the initial focus areas. Sales, other than initial trial and demonstration projects, will begin in the North American market in 2009.
"The TH!NK city is the world's only crash-tested and highway-certified electric vehicle and is ideal for markets such as California where we will initiate demonstration projects offering an exceptionally safe and fun car to drive."
-- Jan-Olaf Willums, CEO of Think Global
The 3120mm (123 inch) long, two seat, front wheel drive TH!NK city, weighing 1397 kg (3073 lb), is emission free and 95 percent recyclable. It reaches a top speed of 100 km (65 miles) per hour and can drive up to 180 km (110 miles) on a single charge. TH!NK City meets all European and U.S. federal motor vehicle safety requirements.
It is available with with Zebra sodium or A123 or EnerDel Li-ion batteries and powered by a 30kW peak power, 3-phase electric motor.
The battery is by far the most expensive component of the City and to avoid concerns about their reliability and lifetime Think will lease the batteries. According to a post to Business 2.0 Magazine on CNNMoney.com, in July 2007, Think CEO Jan-Olaf Willums indicated that the City will sell in the US for $15,000 - $17,000, with a Mobility Fee of $100-$200 to lease the batteries.
"We believe there is a dramatic shift underway of how people think about mobility. Global consumer demand is forcing the industry to come up with sustainable solutions, including the development of zero emission vehicles,"
-- Wilber James, a Managing General Partner of RockPort Capital Partners and acting President of TH!NK North America
The five passenger TH!NK Ox, scheduled for production in 2011, was introduced at the 2008 Geneva Auto Show. It will have a range of about 125 miles (200 kilometers) on a charge and a top speed of about 80 mph (130km/hr).
Think Global has more than 17 years of experience in developing and producing electric vehicles and there are about 1,200 vehicles driving on Norwegian roads today. The latest TH!NK city is the fifth-generation electric vehicle that has been produced in Norway. Series production of the newly designed TH!NK city car started late last year and the first cars will be delivered to Norwegian customers. The capacity of its first assembly plant in Aurskog, outside Oslo, is presently being increased to 10,000 cars per year. Think expects to be producing at full capacity sometime during 2009.