Monday, June 02, 2008

Think, the noun

This morning Clark Howard's website had a tiny video blurb about a Norwegian electric car that Clark thought would be just great, coming to America in 2009. Well, I have an aging car that will need replacing someday, and with gas teetering on $4 a gallon as I write this (and no evidence the oil companies would want to bring their prices & record profits back down anytime soon) this caught my attention. Clark's video didn't give me much to go on, not even a link, but a Google on "norwegian electric car" was all it took.

Most of the hits from that query were dated 2007, but then again they were mostly still news to me. Quick recap: Ford bought a company called Pivco back in 1999, pumped $150M into it and put it up for sale a few years later when it looked like the car companies were going to kill the California legislation that made electric cars so important in California. A Norwegian smart guy named Willums (who made a fortune investing in solar power) bought the whole company, factory and inventory for $15M. The hard part about electric cars has always been the battery pack, and Willums has forged a deal with the Tesla car people to get those. He now has an electric car called Think City ready to go, and has been showing models around.

As you can see, it's not exactly a babe magnet, unless you like smart & practical babes (I do). It has a range of over 100 miles, at speeds up to 65MPH, for (according to Clark) about 2 cents per mile, and is expected to sticker-price at $25K. Let's assume the usual manufacturer BS and double that to 4 cents, that's still pretty sweet. But this car has some other cool innovations: it's web and wi-fi enabled, and the company is open to new software from other developers, opening up lots of cool possibilities (Norway is the home of Nokia, remember). The car can feed power back into the electric grid on demand. The batteries might be leased, rather than purchased, with the option to buy. Used batteries have a market, they can go onto the grid or be used in buildings as power backup. Dean Kamen is adding on a Stirling heat engine that will extend the City's capabilities tremendously, and "can tap almost any fuel source, from restaurant grease to cow dung", with exhaust pollution so low it "will meet indoor air-quality standards". That would also make every car a portable generator to feed anything from a small rural village (imagine a few of these used as vehicles or power sources somewhere in India, running on whatever awful stuff is around) to a backwoods kegger. The car is to be made in local factories, from modular parts, and will be ordered online and built to order like Dell computers.

Now, if I can just get this in a shape about like a Chevy HHR or Camry wagon so that I can haul my music gear, I'd be all set. Think has a prototype of a model called Ox that looks like just the thing, especially if I can easily remove the rear seats. I wannit!

Here are a few links to get you into this story, and a lot more:
Think's website
Business 2.0 article I based this on
Engadget article, with comments

Researching this article also brought me to these very interesting links:
Go Green, Get Rich
Google's thinktank

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