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Old 04-25-2012, 06:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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There are 100 THINK City EVs available now for $22,500

Surprising, no?

This is a combination of three of my posts at mynissanleaf.com
where I had learned of this development last week.

_________________


Holy cow! Eurostar, the Maryland dealer, is about 12 miles from me!
I'm going to try to get over there on Saturday and try to get
a test drive.

"Just plug in your home outlet and let charge overnight like
your cell phone..."
!!??

FWIW, here's some comparative specs on the THINK City:
(In inches) ... I Smart . LEAF .. Think
Length .. 144.8 .. 106.1 .. 175.0 .123.7
Width ...... 62.4 . 61.4 .... 69.7 . 65.3
Height .. 63.6 ... 60.7 61 .. 62.8
Wheel Base ...100.4 ... 73.5 ... 106.3..77.6 **
Max cargo ..... 50.4 7.8 .. 24.0 .. 19
Curb weight (lbs) ... 2579 2315 . 3366 2290/2348
Turning circle (ft) . 29.5 ... 28.7 34 ...29.5
** This doesn't look right if the LOA is 123.7.

____________________________

As to ease of entry, I'm 6' 1", 215 lbs, and I had a companion 6' 2", 265 lbs, and
we had no trouble with ingress/egress. I drive an '08 Prius and I'd say access is
about the same, maybe slightly easier in the THINK...

The insurance difficulties may have to do with air bags. It has only two, driver
and passenger. Here's a data sheet they had on insurance. I don't see it as very
helpful as it is for the Elkhart, IN area:

http://i.imgur.com/pgzWt.jpg

I'll be posting more info on my visit shortly.

Just for fun, here's a short video of a race prepared THINK -- roll cage, racing
mirror, passenger seat removed, different tires? -- overtaking and passing what
appears to be a Miata on the rain slicked Brands Hatch race course. I know, it
doesn't prove a thing, but but the car and driver seem unperturbed by the
conditions:

!

[EDIT] More info on this:
"Superb handling is this car's secret weapon. The THINK City has incredible
amounts of grip, is exceptionally stable and is very easy to drive fast. The first
time I drove a City, I was driving on a test track used by manufacturers to test
a cars handling and dynamics. On the city driving circuit, this little car was
undoubtedly the fastest car I had ever driven around the route thanks to its
incredible poise and handling. The car could cope with sudden changes of
direction at speed as quickly as I could turn the steering wheel.

Despite its relatively low performance, the top speed only just touches 70mph
(112km/h), the THINK City is an astonishingly good car to drive. In Sweden,
where the car is now made, it is building a reputation as a rally car and it is
quite possibly the best handling small car in the world. For 2011, a race version
of the car has been built which will compete in the EV Cup world race series."

From: BeGreen Think City Review

And, Jay Leno's luke warm review/test drive

__________________________

My visit to the Eurostar THINK City dealership in Randallstown, MD.

The THINK is an assault on your sensibilities from the very beginning. It is disorienting
to see these cars at a dealership whose stock in trade is second hand luxury cars with
Ferraris, Maseratis, Mercedes, a Bentley, and even a Acura NSX on the premises.

First off it is a small car; only two seats, take it or leave it. (The Euro version of the car
does have back seats.)

Also, there is the matter of the exterior body panels; they are made of matte finish ABS
plastic. They resemble a large Play School toy. My first reaction was, Is this for real?
The claimed benefit is that the panels are flexible and absorb and rebound from the
inevitable bumps and insults in a closely spaced urban environment. Further, even if
deeply scratched, the color is constant, and refinishing is unnecessary. This is either a
real world inspired innovation of a short-cut. It can be difficult to remember that the
skin of a car, metal or plastic adds little to crash worthiness and survivability.

Then there is the matter of the minimalist interior appointments. I'm not talking about
equipment, the car has lots of amenities::
"AIR CONDITIONING ...POWER WINDOWS ...POWER MIRRORS...
(All extra-cost options on Euro spec cars)
AM-FM-CD PLAYER (Sony aftermarket with USB port)
REMOTE KEYS WITH ALARM...REMOTE TRUNK OPENER...CARPET MATS...CUP
HOLDERS... CARGO NET"

No, I'm talking about the layout and presentation. Think of Scandinavian furniture
design extended to a car. I'm talking about a spartan, intentionally minimalist,
monk-like simplicity. There are few if any concessions to style. All surfaces are plastic,
not even a nod to soft surfaces. There is a glove box shelf, but no door. Window controls
are on the center console. Two, fold-out two piece cup holders, one on each side of the
center console. The seats are thinish, but firm; and narrow with little or no side bolsters
on seat bottom and back. Plenty of leg room for a 6'2" driver/passenger. The cargo space
has a flat floor with some storage beneath and two netted cargo pockets on the sides.
There is no provision for a pull-out cargo tonneau cover. I did not operate the heating/
air conditioning system. (Note: I was told that here is new, more efficient heater on the
way which will be retro-fitted or provided to buyers for installation in the near future.)

There is no provision for L3 charging.

Depending on your personal tastes, the interior is either super clean, or severely harsh.

So, what is this car all about? Purely low cost, no-nonsense transportation over short by
conventional ICE car standards distances. If the claimed good weather range of 100 miles
is valid, it's range is better than the i(MiEV) and equal to the LEAF. Of course, YMMV.

I will admit that I know nothing about international vehicle construction, financing, etc,
and the THINK situation in particular, so the following may be a bit confused.
Anyway, here's what I think I was told:

THINK as a global concern still exists. It has been purchased lock stock and barrel by a
Russian entrepreneur. The home office is being moved to Munich. There still is some
vestigial THINK USA component in Elkhart (or was that Michigan?) with a warehouse full
of parts for repairs, etc. The Eurostar concern purchased 100, 2011 MY cars from THINK.
(Ten other cars were purchased by and have been sold by a California concern)
These 100 cars are the entire stock of USA 1st Generation THINK City cars. There is an
intention to build a larger, more expensive, second generation car at a yet to be built/
identified Asian facility as a 2014 or '15 MY car. The picture I was shown of this car looked
exactly like the THINK Ox concept car pictures on the Inter-web:



Driving the car:
Quiet like the LEAF that I've test driven. No squeaks or rattles. I got it up to 60 on a
rolling country road. (Top speed is quoted as 70 MPH. The salesman said he got his car
up to 77 MPH, "on a slight downgrade." I had two test drives, one with the salesman,
and one with my companion for the day. On the second drive I was let's just say, l little
more assertive with my control inputs.

I wasn't able to induce a real surge of power either drive from either a full stop or
while underway. The car accelerates like it is on the end of a long rubber band. I'd say
that the acceleration was not unlike what I ask of my Gen II Prius which I drive for
"pretty good" FE for a lifetime, 65K miles, of 50.2 MPGs. The ride was remarkably
smooth for the short wheelbase, not unlike the Scion IQ that I test drove recently.
Four wheel independent suspension and all that. I wasn't able to find a really broken
up or corrugated road surface. (We had a very mild winter this year with little chance
for frost heaves or other serious road surface degradation.)

The car has two driving modes, D and E. In either I wasn't able to get a clear indication
of getting regen or finding a Prius-like "no arrows glide." There is an analog, needle-type
power use gauge with a regen range, but I wasn't able to get the needle into the regen
range. We did feel a distinctly different feel of forward motion being retarded when I took
my foot off the go-pedal when in E compared to D. I'm grudging willing to attribute this
matter to my unfamiliarity with the THINK and my go-pedal only regen experience with
my Prius. I don't know, maybe all or most of the regen is in the brake pedal circuitry.

Last week, Aerostar sold its first three cars, all full cash transactions to members of
the Washington DC EV car club. FWIW, there seems to be some issue with conventional
vehicle purchase lenders and the THINK. Eurostar hasn't been able to advertise on
AutoTrader yet because THINK isn't on their list of USA OEM vehicle manufacturers.
They're working on correcting this and expect interest/sales to jump when it has been
accomplished.

Maintenance and service? First service is due at 40K miles. It's mostly a brake system
check. No mention of HV battery check. Where this would be done for buyers from
other areas wasn't made clear.

Parts? Some of the unidentified parts under the hood were clearly marked FoMoCo.
But whether they are US or Euro spec I can't say. Allegedly there are parts galore
"in the warehouse." Actual ready availability remains to be determined.

If you have more questions, or need more detailed info/clarification I'm not the one
to ask, talk to Eurostar's THINK guru/salesman, Tom Markides at: EUROSTAR AUTOMOTIVE GROUP

My companion and I spent an enjoyable and most informative hour and a half at
Eurostar. Every question that I asked was answered without hesitation or apparent
evasion. At no time did I fell like I was getting a run around. I just have to say again
that information about the current situation vis-a-vis THINK International, THINK USA,
and future development was way over my head.

Disclaimers:
I have no interest whatsoever, financial or otherwise, in either the THINK City car or
Eurostar.
I have not independently verified or validated any of the information provided by
Eurostar.
All observations and opinions are solely mine alone, made without any offer of reward
or compensation.

NB: Also Posted at PRIUSchat and mynissanleaf.


Last edited by Rokeby; 04-25-2012 at 11:38 AM..
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Are all the Th!nk City's 2 seaters? I think the back seat was an option?

Here's a review that refers to regenerative braking:

http://www.pluginamerica.org/drivers...ix-years-apart
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilBlanchard View Post
Are all the Th!nk City's 2 seaters? I think the back seat was an option?
Neil,

All the cars made in Elkhart were/are 2 seaters.
Four seats was/is is a Euro option.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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FWIW, more info from a third drive and Owner/User Manual

Seats: they are decidedly firm. I was confused, there are seat edge bolsters on
seat bottom and back. What I remembered as narrowness was the bolsters agaist
my lower back. There is no lumbar support adjustment, seat back angle is adjustable.
The seats have high squarish corners. Don't know where the passenger seat back
release is located.

* Steering wheel is up-down adjustable, but not in/out.
* Power windows with switches, one for each window, on the center console.
Only work when car is ON. No auto up/down on drivers window.

* Two, folding, two-part cup holders on passenger side of center console.
* Brake and go-pedals pivot from up under the dash.
* FWIW, brake pedal is huge, about 4" x 5" -- to minimize pedal confusion caused
false "unintended acceleration?
* There may be some slight center-ward displacement of the brake/go-pedals.
But if so, it is no more than in my Gen II Prius.
* Rear hatch is one-piece glass without exterior frame. There are horizontal stripes
of black paint on interior, probably to block headlight glare from behind.
* Steering is "ELECTRO-HYDRAULIC POWER ASSIST." The steering wheel appeared
to be slightly larger diameter than my Prius. I had no trouble cranking the steering
wheel from stop to stop. Don't know how many turns, but the steering felt roughly
twice as quick as my Prius.
* The go-pedal was easily modulated to get slow speeds in forward and reverse.
* Motor whine is greater than the LEAF. Aftermarket sound deadening on floor and
firewall may reduce this -- but why not go all the way and do roof and doors too?
* I did two U-turns on my third drive and I was surprised at the tightness. I think
the advertized 29' 5" turning circle is correct.
* I was told the suspension bits are from Renault/Nissan.
Motor/gearbox is watercooled, 50/50 distilled water/"Prime" coolant.
* THINK City is not designed for temperatures under -13 degF.
* THINK City is not designed to pull a trailer or other vehicles.

* Wheels: Alloy, 6x14, offset 0.94", bolt circle 4", center hole 2.56"
Outer face of wheel spokes rim appear virtually flat, perfect for flat aero covers.
* Tire: 165/65R14, Michelin Energy Saver
* Tire Pressure: 36 front/43 rear -- differential seems large to me.

As to chargingthe battery, the Manual says:

Voltage:.....400 VDC
Stored power/capacity:........23,0 kWh / 70 Ah
Weight:......630 lb
Self discharge level:.....Ca. 4 W
Charging time:...... 0 - 100% approximately 8 hours
Above estimate is valid when charging from a 15 A /240V main
outlet at above 60 F (15 C) ambient temperature.
Estimate 25% more charging time when using a 10 A main outlet.
Charging voltage:120V / 60 Hz or 240V / 60 Hz (Preferred)
Charging current:.....10 A / 15 A

Last edited by Rokeby; 04-26-2012 at 05:50 AM..
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hmm,I wonder if a partially completed think shell or two might be available to buy?

If the price was right I wouldn't mind a battery, charger, BMS and motor/drivetrain for a swap

Nothing like optimism
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I became very interested in these cars since I saw them on ebay a couple of weeks ago, and evidently so have alot of other people. Tom had 497 emails in his inbox with questions about them. It's the first time an EV is available to us at a reasonably affordable price. So I drove all the way out to Eurostar and took a test drive yesterday. Upon pulling into the driveway and seeing a row of City's in person my first thought was that they seemed a bit smaller than I had imagined from pictures online. Here's a pic of my '00 Protege next to one.





I enjoyed the test drive and the way the car felt. I basically agree with everything Rokeby described in his posts. I'm still mulling it over as to whether I'll buy one or not, but at least now I've seen and driven one first hand.

Mike

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