The Think City goes on sale at the end of 2008 with the ability to drive over 100 miles on one charge and hit 60mph. It also looks, steers and, so we’re promised, crashes like a modern city car. If it looks familiar, then you remember Ford’s aborted eco project. This is that same car six years on, back in Norwegian hands and brought bang up to date.
The Think City only has a 100-mile range? That doesn’t sound much.
The range is plenty given the target customer and the competition. Think bosses realise it only makes sense for tax-wily Londoners taking an eco-stand, and for them the car is nigh-on perfect. The range is double that of the electric competition, namely the G-Wiz and Mega City Nice, and the top speed is a healthy 20mph faster.
Common to all are the plastic panels, stubby three metre footprints and 2+2 seating, but the vast difference in range comes from the battery. In contrast to the venerable lead-acid cells juicing the G-Wiz, the Think is powered by the same lithium-ion polymer tech as the iPod.
Read our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale in the UK
Is the Think City the future, then?
It’d certainly get a callback from Futurama, at least on the tech and exterior looks. Ford’s wide-eyed design from 2002 is still fresh today, and those matt-finished plastic body panels are the same colour all the way through, so no worries with scrapes. The panels are anchored to a steel lower frame that, according to Think, means it’ll absorb crashes like a car and not a quadricycle (aka the G-Wiz loophole).
You can even text chat with your Think. A quick SMS will discover what charge remains or how far into the ten hour recharge you are. A bit of optional cleverness will also let you text to warm the interior on cold mornings.
Any G-wiz escapees will laud the interior as futuristic too, but the well-built, generously proportioned cabin takes us right back to the Millennium, thanks to those 2002 Ford-sourced controls.
Could I drive it and not hate it?
The Think is refreshingly familiar to operate – turn the key, shift the lever into Drive and a diminishing hum indicates the 40bhp motor’s readiness. It takes a second for the speed to build but then all of a sudden it shucks its 1400kg bulk. The force of the silent shove is a welcome surprise after the sluggishness of the G-Wiz and the old Think. I’m very quickly having to back off on tight test circuit.
The Think is nimble in the corners too (all that battery weight low down) and seems to ride well.
It must be time for the ‘But’
The ‘but’ is in the price: £14,000 plus £100 a month to lease the battery. Centrally fixated Londoners could see the sums swing away from petrol with the free (or reduced price) parking in certain boroughs, estimated energy costs of just £110 a year over 10,000 miles and free road tax. Congestion charging might have been the clincher had Ken not waived it for the likes of the £7000 Citroen C1 from October. Potential Thinkers will also be checked by the 2009 arrival of the electric Mitsubishi i – four proper seats, same 100-mile range and 85mph are all promised for £15,000.
This is tantalisingly close to the perfect urban runabout in these taxing times. The lithium-ion batteries give crucial leeway in the range – enough for a dash to the beach, or a 40-mile foot-to-the-floor commute with the heater and stereo on full. It’s roomy for two, quick off the mark and well built. In a first for electric mini-cars everywhere, it even looks appealing. This is a proper car, just one that sleeps attached to a plug. But oh, how expensive. At that price, it’s surely beyond the help of green carrot taxation.