Electric town car's launch paved with $60 million more

Think got $60 million to help launch its electric town car. But will consumers take it for an expensive golf cart?

Norway's Think Global has received $60 million more in advance of the launch of its electric town car later this fall.

The company hopes to resurrect an electric town car created and later abandoned by Ford. Ford spent over $50 million designing and testing the car. The company will release the car in Norway and England in the fall and perhaps bring it to the states in 2008.

Think already raised $25 million. New investors include Rockport Capital Partners and DFJ Element.

Think's car won't be for everyone. Although it can be driven at freeway speeds, it has a range of about 110 to 130 miles. Recharging the battery takes about six to seven hours, said CEO Jan Olaf Willums earlier this year.

"We don't manufacture a car that will go from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. You can have another car for that. We will give you the best car from San Francisco to Palo Alto (a distance of about 30 miles)," he said.

But, oops, there's the price. Batteries cost a lot. Willums told VentureWire (subscription required) this week that the price of the car will be about $35,000 and consumers will have to lease the battery pack on top of that for $100 to $150 a month. So basically, Think will be selling a car that costs $10,000 or so more than a Toyota Camry (not including the monthly battery lease) that will get you from San Francisco to San Jose for a quick meeting, but may not get you back. That is, unless you can unplug a Coke machine and charge the car while you're down there.

The $35,000 price is also higher than earlier estimates. Back at the Cleantech Forum in February, Willums indicated in a quick conversation with me that the price, not including the battery lease, would be closer to $20,000, though he was vague on pricing.

Willums, though, has said that the lower operating costs and tax incentives will erode any pricing delta.

Think will buy batteries from Tesla Motors, which will come out with its electric sports car later this year. Tesla and Zap Motors are also concocting electric sedans that will play in a similar market as Think's car. But these companies, as well as others, are wrestling with the cost of the batteries.

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About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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