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The Think City was a fully electric zero emission vehicle that was marketed as an urban commuter. It was a joint venture produced by Norwegian car maker Think Global in Oslo and assembled at Valmet Automotive in Finland where high-end Porsches were also produced. Think City combined new technology and Scandinavian design for a practical, modern vehicle focused on sustainability. Its small size was perfect for city parking spaces but it was also highway capable, with a top speed of 68mph. It also met U.S. safety standards. The City had four-wheel ABS and regenerative capability for both the front discs and rear drums. Regenerative brakes slowed down the vehicle by feeding the force of the speeding car into a generator, converting kinetic energy back into electric energy to be stored in the battery.
Though diminutive in size, Think City came with power windows, hydroelectric power steering, a stereo, and A/C. The 25 kW 3-phase induction motor sent power to the front wheels via a fixed ratio gearbox and, on a full charge, it touted a 99 mile range. Engineers and designers concentrated on using clean recyclable materials and non-polluting production processes to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing Think Citys. The dashboard could be completely recycled. The fabric, body, supports, air ducts, adhesives and fixings used the same recyclable materials. Its mostly plastic injection molded exterior is purportedly 95% recyclable and designed to avoid visible scratches and dents. The unpainted bodywork also reduced energy consumption and toxins, while making the panels easier to recycle. Batteries were also to be returned to the supplier at the end of their useable life.
The company had a long history of attempts to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream. As with so many other would-be electric car manufacturers, Think Global’s corporate standards reinforced the reality of how difficult it was to become a successful manufacturer of electric vehicles. In the process they and filed for bankruptcy, were taken over by Ford in 2002, let go by Ford in 2003, and filed for bankruptcy twice more before production was set up in Elkhart, Indiana in 2011 as the subsidiary company, Think North America. Chassis were manufactured in Finland and then shipped to the United States. The lithium-ion batteries were sourced from EnerDel in nearby Indianapolis. Their intentions were to build the vehicles from the ground up with as many U.S. supplied components as possible. But only about 500 vehicles were shipped to the US in early 2011, before the company filed for bankruptcy for the fourth time.
In an attempt to reduce production costs, much of the Think City’s interior and switchgear were borrowed from the Ford Focus. The City’s taillamps are Hella brand modular taillamps, found on everything from construction equipment to the Saleen S7 and Lamborghini Diablo.
Manufacturer: Think City
Country of Origin: Norway
Drivetrain: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine: 34-kilowatt, 3-phase electric induction motor, 46 hp
Transmission: One-speed automatic
Top Speed: 68 mph
Years of Production: 2008 to 2012
Number Produced: 2,500
Original Cost: $35,495