Think City electric vehicle

Think City electric vehicle

With the media kerfuffle surrounding the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and anticipation mounting for 2011 Nissan Leaf customers, it's easy to forget that there are other electric cars out there.

Even successful ones, it seems. Swedish electric city car maker THINK are more than 20 years old and have just built their 2,500th THINK City EV, making it the world's most prolific city electric vehicle.

Of course, 2,500 units is small beans in the automotive industry - Ford sold over 11,000 F-Series trucks per week in the U.S. in September 2010 alone, and Toyota's Prius gasoline-electric hybrid was managing 2,800 a week in the same period (Autodata via Wall Street Journal) - but for a small manufacturer making a product for a niche market it's not bad going at all.

THINK's engineers estimate the City has accumulated 35 million zero-emissions miles to date. When you put it into those sort of terms, the 2,500 units look all the more significant.

The City EV, slightly larger than a Smart ForTwo, has been on sale since 1999 and in this time has been in continuous development with refined models released every so often offering greater range, safety and improved performance and comfort. The current model would struggle to be considered highway capable with a top speed of 70mph and leisurely acceleration over 30mph, but a perfectly acceptable range of 100 miles is equivalent to rivals such as the 2010 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive and would more than suit city commutes.

In the last few years and with the rise of other EVs to the market stealing the headlines, THINK has been quietly working away on several projects. Amongst them, the lightweight City EV Cup designed to take the car to the track, and THINK has also offered the car for rental at a picturesque Alpine resort in Switzerland. More importantly for U.S. consumers, THINK plan to produce the City at a new factory in Elkhart, Indiana with U.S. sales scheduled to begin in December this year.

There's no definite word on pricing as yet, but the rumor mill estimates somewhere around the $28,000 mark, before state and federal incentives. That's a lot of money for not a lot of car, but like Mitsubishi's 2012 i-MiEV, the THINK is sure to appeal to those wanting something a little different from their electric transport.

This move will also precede the third generation of the THINK City, due to arrive late 2012, which is sure to offer a host of improvements in order to keep it competitive in a growing market.

With strong competition from the likes of Smart the revised City will have to be impressive, but the company can take pride for their part in the increasing profile of electric cars.

[THINK]