Th!nk Norway 
on hold till 2005!!!


Th!nk engineers pose for Norwegian magazine photo shoot in front of Th!nk City assembly plant at Aurskog Norway. June 1999 Photo: by Bruce Meland - Electrifying Times

Updated January 29th 2003

Even though Ford announced the sale of the Th!nk City to KamKorp in December 2002 questions still remain as to how soon the Norwegian plant might start hiring back workers. Electrifying Times sources indicate it might be as far as 2005 before the assembly plant near Oslo will possibly be back in production. 

Inquiries by various interested parties to Ford and KamKorp have proved difficult. Few people are willing to talk. Is this sale announcement conditional on getting additional subsidies from the Norwegian Govt.? Keep checking back to www.electrifyingtimes.com for further information. Electrifying Times continues to investigate and has discovered this so far...

Ford invested $100 million into the Norwegian company in 1999, driven by the need to sell zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) in California to meet a state mandate which originally required 10% of the light-duty vehicles sold by the largest automakers in the state had to meet ZEV standards. The new modified ZEV rule taking effect in 2005 only requires 2% of the automaker's light-duty fleet meet ZEV requirements. (Bummer for the EV industry!)

Ford, in deep financial trouble and sensing the need to focus on HEVs and fuel-cell  technologies, both build off of electric motor propulsion systems, decided to sell Th!nk in August of 2002.

According to a subscriber only report published by New Fuels & Vehicles Online, a very pricey biweekly product of Inside Washington Publishers, publishers of the Inside EPA Weekly Report, Kamkorp has sent letters to individuals involved in station car & car sharing programs using the Th!nk stating they want to continue selling the vehicle in the USA.

Since 1999, 340+ Th!nks were imported into the U.S. from Norway, before Ford bought the company, under a special Department of Transportation dispensation of safety certification requirements. The waiver has a 3 year time frame, at which time the vehicles will have to be exported out of the U.S., or perhaps even worse, driven to a junk yard crusher, like the ill-fated GM EV1.

Unless Kamkorp steps in with a new generation of Th!nk City, some of the programs that depend on ZEVs could potentially be left without appropriate EVs.

Air quality officials in non-attainment regions that are struggling to reduce emissions to meet EPA air quality goals look to ZEVs to help them reduce emissions.

Although the Th!nk was certified for sale in Europe, the model brought in to the U.S. had not been designed to meet U.S. standards. They were not put through U.S DOT crash testing.

A Ford official quoted in the Fuels & Vehicles report said the new design of Th!nk City have met all requisite design specifications, contain the necessary airbags and have been fully crash tested. The new Th!nk generation could have full DOT certification within 2 or 3 months of a Kamkorp application.

Norwegian press reports claim Kamkorp will keep the current Th!nk City body but will redesign the drive train, to reduce cost, increase power and range, once limited to 45 miles in earlier models.

The Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environment Laboratory is continuing to conduct a demonstration program with the 340 Th!nks currently in the USA.

From:
http://newsdesk.inel.gov/press_releases/2003/01-02urban_electric_vehicles.htm

DOE News Release - January 2, 2003

NEWS MEDIA CONTACTS:
Steve Zollinger, 208-526-9590, gaz@inel.gov

DOE conducts Urban Electric Vehicle demonstration program

The U.S. Department of Energy, through its Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity and in partnership with Ford/TH!NK and the New York Power Authority, is conducting a demonstration program of 340 Urban Electric Vehicles (EVs) in four states.

The goals of the demonstration program include:  
* Enhancing public awareness of Urban EVs
* Defining the unique Urban EV market and niche applications
* Enhancing EV infrastructure
* Investigating the economic sustainability of Urban EVs.

This is the largest Urban EV demonstration program ever conducted in the United States, and the 340 Ford/TH!NK city EVs are located in California (185), Georgia (15), Michigan (40) and New York (100).

The TH!NK city EV is a two-seater hatchback, with a top speed of about 55 mph and a per-charge range of about 45 miles. They are being driven in urban applications that include a military base's shared-use vehicle system, as commuter vehicles to and from transit train stations and as private vehicles.

The TH!NK city EV Demonstration Program (TH!NK Mobility is a Ford Motor Company brand) will run for a total of three years while the Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity collects vehicle-use information, including miles driven, driver profiles, operations and maintenance requirements and energy use. The first year's activities are complete and an annual report describing the initial activities is available on the Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity's web page at http://avt.inel.gov/uev/ThinkcityDemoReport.pdf

The report describes extensive marketing efforts by TH!NK and the New York Power Authority to support the introduction of Urban EVs, and it examines the initial economic sustainability of Urban EVs. As the Demonstration Program progresses, petroleum savings and emissions reductions will be analyzed and the economics of operating Urban EVs will be re-evaluated.

DOE, through its Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity, conducts Baseline Performance, Accelerated Reliability and Fleet testing on advanced technology vehicles. (The Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity is a component of DOE's Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program).
 
These elements of the Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity are managed for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho. For more information on this and other testing activities, visit the Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity Web page at http://avt.inel.gov or contact Jim Francfort (francfje@inel.gov, 208-526-6787)

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Below posted January 17th on the ET List at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ETList/message/1587

From: http://www.aftenposten.no/english

Mirrored from a 27 Dec 02 story by Nina Berglund at the Aftenposten English Web Desk

TH!NK WORKERS WELCOME NEW OWNER
by Nina Berglund

The future remains far from assured, but the 100 employees of Think Nordicwere full of holiday cheer in Oslo Norway over the New Year as news sunk in that a new owner planned to continue production of Think's electric cars. Think's seller, however, warned that plenty of challenges lie ahead.

Ingvar Sviggum of Ford Europe (left), local mayor Karin Guldbrandsen and Think managing director Ingemar Bjoerholt announced they'd found a buyer for Think Nordic..

For one thing, Ford Motor Co is still firming up its intention to sell Think Nordic to KamKorp Microelectronics of Switzerland. No price was disclosed, said Ingvar Sviggum of Ford Europe, because no final figures have been agreed.

Sviggum said, however, that KamKorp will be able to take over all patent rights tied to production of the car, along with rights to the brand "Think City."

That means Ford, which opted out of electric car production to focus on hybrid technology instead, won't be able to use the "Think" name in its own line of environmentally friendly cars.

Sviggum claimed KamKorp will be better suited to succeed with what he called the "small scale production" at Think's plant in Aurskog, northeast of Oslo. "All of our systems are intended for large volume," he told newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv.

Sviggum called the deal with KamKorp "the solution we've all been working hard for." He added that the Think workers "have unique experience and expertise" within this niche of the car industry.

Bernd Winkler, head of European business development for KamKorp, called the deal "a fantastic Christmas present for all of us."

Ansgar Gabrielsen, Norway's cabinet minister for business and industry, praised Ford for managing to find someone willing to take over the plant. Ford, he noted, had gone to great lengths to ensure Think Nordic's future when the car giant itself decided to end its engagement.

Gabrielsen defended his decision earlier this autumn to reject Ford's requests for more direct state aid to Think. "Then we probably never would have seen this solution," he said.

Ford, however, remained critical of the state's position, hinting that Think's new owner will continue to have financial problems unless the state takes a more supportive role.

"If this electric car is going to have any future, the authorities will have to do more than simply offer tax exemptions and access to special commuter lanes," Sviggum told newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv. The state, he insisted, must ultimately offer to subsidize the purchase of the little electric cars if production is to become permanent.

KamKorp wasn't the only prospective buyer interested in taking over Think Nordic. Zap of California, which bills itself as a pioneer in electric bicycles and scooters, was among those making a bid, and later sweetened it to USD 13 million in cash, stock or warrants.


From:
http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article.jhtml?articleID=402769

Reader response to a 'Think' shutdown

Several fans of the Norwegian-made electric car called "Think" are furious at Ford's decision to pull out of its investment in the business. Here's a sampling of their reaction:

On August 30th, 2002, there was a death that was little publicized. The funeral was eulogized by a corporate giant and only a few mourners attended the ceremony.

There is a problem, though, and that was the cause of death. It was determined, by the "coroner", that it was, in fact, a murder! The guilty party... you and me and our government! The victim? The little-publicized "Th!nk" all-electric City Vehicle.

Ford Motor Company had purchased the electric vehicle company in 1999 for a mere 23 million dollars and invested another 100 million or so into the technology. In their news release, dated August 30th, 2002, Ford Motor Company stated, "...it was pulling the plug on its Think electric vehicle division due to poor customer demand and lack of government support for the environmentally friendly cars."

Can you imagine that? You and I did not "demand" an electric car and the government didn't "support" one... so we are being blamed for the "death." At this point, I must stand up and ask some questions to Ford Motor Company.

My first might be, "How many commercials were made available to the public on television to market the all-electric car?" I, for one, did not see any. Did anyone else see or hear any broadcasted information about this car? With as many Ford commercials I have seen, I can actually sing their jingle!

The second one might be, "You spent 100 million dollars on further technology and you came up with a car that only went 50 miles or so on a charge and would only go 50+ miles an hour?" I hate to criticize, but come on guys! Three years... one hundred million dollars?? It appears as though a great opportunity for a large-scale production, environmentally-friendly automobile, economical, and actually life-altering to all humanity is now passing.

Am I being overly emotional? Now I must say, I for one am not going to take responsibility for this death. I am innocent. If there was any opportunity to vote, or buy, or even see one... I wasn't given it. Anyone else fall into that category?

Another question might be, "Who was responsible for the death?" Well... the few that attended the funeral were from the giant oil corporations and the automotive industry. They all looked sorrowful and gave flowers. Ford Motor did not state if anyone asked, "Is there anything I can do?"

I would imagine they did everything they could to help the situation. Anything less would be unconscionable.

Now for my last question, and this may take some thinking... "Who is John Gault and where is his motor?"

Farewell little "Th!nk." Sorry to say I never knew you.

Mark Huff
Euclid, Ohio

I saw your article on Think. I drive a Think City in San Francisco (5,000 miles trouble-free and gas-free). I and many others here are astounded by this decision. There are waiting lists for the Think City in California. Ford could have sold every Think City they wanted to make.

You will notice Ford speaks of disappointing "sales," but they have "sold" every car they've produced. Why did they make so few? How do they explain the waiting lists here in California? Here it feels like they have proven a demand exists for EVs.

Think drivers in San Francisco are organizing a demonstration at the local dealer to demonstrate the demand for the Think City and EVs in general and ask Ford to re-Th!nk their decision.

Marc Geller
San Francisco, California

I've just read your article regarding the Th!nk cars. Thanks so much for keeping us up to date on what is happening in Norway.

I lease a Th!nk City from Ford in San Franciso and I would happily buy it if they would let me. I drive nearly 50 miles each day in it, including the freeway. It's fun to drive and easy to find parking. I haven't used my gas car in months.

I understand that dealers in Los Angeles and San Diego have waiting lists for the City as well as San Francisco. These are the only cities in California that have the car available.

Sometime in the next two weeks we City drivers, and others, will be gathering at the San Francisco Ford dealership to protest Fords cancelling City production. They claim there is no demand while speaking to government officials both here in California and in Norway, yet people want to buy
them. They have no stock on hand. There is no advertising. Could Ford be afraid of something? Why would they not sell to the people who want them?

Louis Faas
San Francisco

I have leased a GM EV-1 and currently lease a Ford Th!nk City here in Hollywood, California (on the edge of Los Angeles). The EV-1 was a great car, but the games played by GM made me switch to the Th!nk City. I love the little car, drive it every day. People constantly ask me about the car,
where they can get one, etc. There is demand.

The difficult process of getting the GM EV-1 would take too long to explain. It was clear from the start that they (the company GM) was no longer interested in it, in spite of long waiting lists.

A similar story has now occurred with the Ford Th!nk City. There is only one Ford dealer in the entire Los Angeles area leasing the car, and there was no advertising in the year the car was leased (although "image" advertising was done approximately three years ago when Ford bought Pivco).

It is ridiculous for carmakers to claim lack of demand when they have not tried to properly market or sell these cars. Consider the hours of television advertising devoted to SUVs and luxury trucks in the USA. In this country we are bombarded constantly with images of trucks bouncing around in beautiful natural settings. These are places real drivers never take their cars. Instead what we actually see every day is people trying to park these huge vehicles in small parking spaces. The hypocrisy of this has become stunning.

The real issue and reason US carmakers are suppressing electric vehicles is that they are less profitable, not completely unprofitable. If low-polluting electric cars were to become popular in the major cities of the US, it is possible that 80 percent of daily driving travel, which is under 30 miles, could be accomplished with them. It is more profitable for a US company to sell a small gasoline car than an electric car. So the electric is simply not offered, only the bigger cars.

For automakers and oil companies the EV possibility is a nightmare.

Certainly I, and likely the entire community of EV drivers here in Southern California support the Th!nk City and would like to see its production continued.

Ron Fischer
Hollywood, California

We drive a Th!nk City and it now has over 5,000 reliable miles here in Northern California. In fact we would buy it if it were for sale but it isn't... and Ford says that there is "no demand". That is ridiculous.

We had about 25 people at our last meeting of the North San Francisco Bay Electric Auto Association, including four current Th!nk City drivers and a total of seven EVs (including 2 Th!nk City cars) were in attendance. There is a terrific feeling of betrayal over here and we want to do anything we can to save the Th!nk car.

Dr Nick Carter
Santa Rosa, California

Aftenposten English Web Desk

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