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USA: Earth Day Special Deal on New Electric Cars


by Jerry.Pohorsky@gmail.com

With gas prices increasing and attention focused on the environment for Earth Day, interest in electric cars is on the rise. Cars like the Nissan LEAF are becoming quite popular although the price is still well over $30K and out of reach for many car buyers.

THINK North America has an all-electric car that you can drive on the freeway. The top speed is 70 MPH and the range is about 100 miles. In California, it is listed among the 2011 models that are eligible for the white carpool lane stickers at the CARB website

The 2011 THINK City is a European design with the final assembly done in the USA. I have driven them in town, on the freeway and on a very windy and steep mountain road. For a limited time, you can get one in California for a lot less than the original sticker price.

The car is a 2 seater with a rather large storage area behind the seats and a large glass hatchback for excellent rear visibility. It comes with a 120 VAC charging cord that plugs into the J1772 charge port on the car. This is the same connector used by the Nissan LEAF, the Chevy Volt and most other EVs like the Coda and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

You can charge more than twice as fast using any J1772 240 VAC charging station like the public charging stations that Coulomb has installed around California or that you can purchase for home use at stores like Lowes and Best Buy. A full charge at 240 VAC takes about 8 hours. Just plug it in before you go to bed and it will be ready to go when you wake up.

The THINK City is nicely equipped with a stereo, heating and air conditioning, power door locks and power windows and easy to read instrumentation. The one thing that seemed to be missing was a locking glove compartment – it does have a tray beneath the dashboard for storing small items, however.

Click here for the spec and general information

I drove the THINK from De Anza College in Cupertino up to the top of Montebello Road above Stevens Creek Reservoir. The climb was about 2,500 feet – much higher than the Highway 17 summit to Santa Cruz. The THINK EV zipped up the hill with plenty of power and handled the sharp turns with a sure grip. This was with both myself and Bob Garzee of Synergy EV on board. We had a fantastic view of San Francisco bay from the top.

On the way back down the hill, I used the regenerative braking and was able to keep the car at a safe speed without hardy using the regular brakes at all. The SOC (state of charge) meter showed that I had regained a significant amount of charge during the descent.

Unfortunately, due to their high initial sticker price and slow sales, THINK Global, AS – the parent company of THINK North America– ran out of money and had to file for bankruptcy. Its assets, including THINK’s inventory in the U.S., are now owned by Electric Mobility Automotive, which is raising cash to restart production.

Their loss can be your gain. In order to get the cash quickly, they have priced 150 new cars from their existing 2011 inventory to sell at $22,300. The company is working aggressively on the next products so they want to sell off last year’s models at this attractive price. The new models will not be available for this price, so act quickly to avoid disappointment.

These cars are eligible for the $2,500 California State EV rebate and also the $7,500 Federal Tax credit. That could bring your final price down to $12,300 plus the state sales taxes and DMV fees. I have heard that San Joaquin Valley residents may qualify for an additional $3,000 rebate. Other states have different rebate and incentive programs.

There are only 150 cars available at this price. These cars are currently located at the THINK factory in Elkhart, Indiana. Bob Garzee of Synergy EV has partnered with a local Ford dealer to facilitate delivery of the cars in San Jose, CA. One truck load of 10 cars has already been sent to the dealership and all but one has already been sold. By the time you read this, that car will probably be sold also.

Buyers pay the full purchase price directly to THINK and not the dealer. Mission Valley Ford is the “Delivery Facilitator”. The dealer does have one additional car on display and it is also available for test drives. After taking a test drive, a buyer can put down a 10% deposit to reserve a car from the next truck load. The available colors are red, blue and black.

The THINK City has a unique plastic body with a matte finish that is dent resistant. The plastic is colored so it won’t fade, chip, or oxidize like a normal car with paint. Despite the plastic body, the car is very safe and has passed all of the NTSB crash tests. There is a photo on the data sheet that shows one of the crash tests.

It comes with a 3 year, 36,000 mile factory warranty that also covers the batteries. A shop in Santa Clara is under contract to do warranty service. Bob is now working on finding a shop to do service work in the Los Angeles area. They are also focusing on fleet sales and have arranged financing and insurance options to make this a turn-key operation for organizations ready to “go green”.

Bob is also part of the Green Team that partners with Clean Cities, and the non-profit organization called Breathe California – a group that helps people quit smoking and also fights air pollution by supporting electric cars. He has arranged a program with THINK to donate $350 from each individual sale to Breathe California. THINK will donate an even more generous amount for large fleet sales. Breathe California will get a $25,000 donation for a fleet order of 40 of the 2011 THINK.

Test drives at Mission Valley Ford, the delivery facilitator, will still be available while the supply of cars lasts. The dealership is closed on Sundays. Hours are 8 AM to 6 PM Monday – Friday and 9 AM to 4 PM on Saturday. Jeff Speno is the manager and Tom DieBold is the main contact for anyone interested in seeing and driving these electric cars.

Until further notice, San Jose is the only location being supported by Bob for delivery of the cars. Purchasers from other areas will need to arrange for transportation to their location at additional cost. Similarly, warranty service is only available at the shop in Santa Clara, CA at this time.

The dealership is focused primarily on commercial truck sales and service, however they do sell the Ford Electric Transit Connect vehicle built by Azure Dynamics and have installed a J-1772 charger to support those.

Due to the out-of-state title on the cars, they are being sold directly by THINK North America and the payment is made directly to them. Another company called Road Ready Registration handles the DMV transaction and provides the California license plates for a nominal fee.

Bob Garzee and the Green Team was already involved in the Fleet-oriented Transit Connect EV project and has a good relationship with Mission Valley Ford. The THINK opportunity was a good follow-on project and the dealership is a convenient place to have the vehicles delivered from the THINK factory and for potential buyers to come for test drives.

Here is the contact information at the dealership to arrange for a test drive and to make a reservation for a THINK City electric car. They are just west of the 880 freeway and right next to the large Fry’s Electronics store.

Tom DieBold
Mission Valley Ford Truck Center
780 East Brokaw Road
San Jose, CA. 95112
408-933-2370
tdiebold@missionvalleyford.com

To reach Bob Garzee, call 408-500-1740
or email synergyEV@yahoo.com

Bob can answer questions about insurance, financing, warranty repair, fleet sales, and whether there are still any THINK 2011 cars left, etc.
Source Jerry Pohorsky

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