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TH!NK City Electric Car - Think Again About The TH!NK

Rex Roywriter

Time to think again about the TH!NK, that all-electric city car that's been trying to become a successful business proposition since 1991. Word is, after coming out of bankruptcy, the company is charging forward to begin production of its TH!NK City, a highway-capable electric car with a 130-mile range and a top speed of 65 mph.

The first units should be to European customers by the end of 2009. According to company spokesperson James Andrews, 2,500 people have ordered cars. The TH!NK City is a two-seater hatchback, but the company is also working on a four-seater big enough for two adults and two children, the representative said.

Looking to the West, the company is publicly considering a handful of states in the U.S. where it would produce the TH!NK City. Fundamental to its near-term plans, TH!NK expects to secure a fresh round of funding and emerge from bankruptcy before the Fall. Settling its debts and boosting its capital will allow it to start production.

As with so many other would-be electric car manufacturers, TH!NK's current corporate condition and history reinforce the reality about how difficult it is to become a successful manufacturer of electric vehicles. Time and time again, the retail market rejects the offered products and the companies fail. Such is TH!NK's tale. Founded in Oslo, Norway under the name of Pivco, the company made some headlines with a small prototype fleet that ran around Norway during the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter games.

The next effort was another prototype, the PIV3, also known as the City Bee or Citi. Approximately 120 PIV3s were produced, and 40 participated in an electric-car demonstration conducted from 1995-98 in San Francisco. Using learnings gathered from the PIV3, Pivco embarked on what would be its first true production vehicle, the TH!NK.

By 1999, Pivco was unable to secure the funds to continue as a going concern, and was acquired by Ford. Approximately 1000 TH!NK city cars were produced under Ford's ownership by 2002. Many cars were placed in service in New York city and several locations in California. Changes in California's zero-emissions CARB policy helped Ford lose interest in the project, and the company was sold to a Swiss company, who in turn sold it in 2006 to a Norwegian investment company that included Pivco's original founder, Jan Otto Ringdal as a partner.

This group of investors still backs the company, and has funded the development of the all-new Think pictured here. According to TH!NK's website, the car meets all E.U. safety standards, and the website claims that it meets U.S. safety standards as well. This is critical to the success of a high-speed electric vehicle in this country.

We'll be keeping an eye on TH!NK and provide any significant news as the company is expected to emerge from bankruptcy soon.