This is the car I covet:
It’s been a long day for our adorable yellow test car. This morning we headed for Think’s factory in Aurskog, some 40 miles into the bluegrass Scandinavian countryside, with about an 85% charge in the car’s advanced sodium-cell battery. But Ladehaug — who is directionally challenged too — got us turned around. Now, after several course corrections that added perhaps 20 miles to the trip, we’re both eyeing the battery gauge, while warning lights flash ominously. Still the Think City — a 2,449-pound runabout with plastic body panels and an official range of 112 miles on full charge — hums along.
About the size of a Mercedes-built Smart car, the two-seat Think (backseat optional) scoots away from stop lights, thanks to its torque-rich electric motor, and doesn’t feel at all strained at highway speeds of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph). First impressions: dead solid, quiet, comfortable, fully realized. A real car. It’s got a great look, with big moony eyes as headlamps that make you want to take it home. The brakes are kind of touchy, the pedals are kind of small, the steering a bit leaden. But for the most part, it feels like any other sub-compact economy car, except there’s not an exhaust note. Nor exhaust pipe. When we have to make a quick change in direction — “Here, this turn!” Ladehaug shouts — the little car darts in the direction it’s pointed.
Obviously, electric cars aren’t a panacea, since we still have to get that electricity from somewhere (and plenty of Americans still get most of their power from coal fired power plants.) But it would feel so fantastically futuristic to just plug my car into a socket. One of the more poignant backstories of the Think car is that Ford actually funded a large part of the car’s development. (It bought the company in 1999, shortly after California passed a strict Zero Emission mandate.) But then, in 2003, after the Big Three managed to get California’s mandate overturned, Ford decided to get out of the electric car business and sold Think to a Swiss conglomerate. Yet another example of Detroit’s penchant for long-term planning.