26 September 2011

Think City EV available in Baltimore Marlyland (updated)

I heard today that www.cleancities.com has three colors of the Think City EV in stock in Balitmore, just not the yellow one pictured above.  They have Blue, Red, and Black, but of course the Yellow was pulled from production with pigmentation issues.  Contact info from the Clean Cities web site:

1206 Ridgely Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Map & Directions

Tel: 410.528.0150
Toll Free: 800.922.7999

There was a story about two weeks ago in Green Car Reports that the Clean Cities Coalition in Syracuse NY was offering Think City EVs for sale in central New York.  I don't know if this group is related to the Baltimore operation, the web sites do not appear to be related.  The Syracuse and Baltimore operators know each other but have 'No contract or grant' relationship, if I understand.  It seems to me that have have not just a similar name, but also similar goals.

I was only able to get limited confirmation by email today.  They sounded pretty busy and then later it appeared that their web page had been updated, so maybe that was what they were doing.  I got several questions answered today: 1) They will sell out of state.  2) The car is eligible for the $7500 Federal tax incentive.  Clean Cities (dot com) appears to be a small business with a long history in EVs and NEVs.  I get the impression they are able to ship out of state but I am not certain.  They say pricing matches the factory website, www.thinkev-usa.com

We are approaching 4000 miles in our blue Think City EV that we ordered last April directly from the factory in Indiana, before the bankruptcy.  It looks like Think is getting back on their feet, so to say.  Cheers!

It is interesting to consider that Think built their 2500th vehicle just under a year ago.  The big names that have entered the market are just recently passing that mark with highway capable EVs.

And yes, the Think City EV goes 70 mph.

19 September 2011

GE WattStation works intermittently with my Th!nk City EV

General Electric (GE) has started manufacturing "Electric Vehicle Service Equipment" (or EVSEs) in North Carolina.  These are often informally called EV charging stations or something similar.  One of the units pictured above is installed and working in front of the GE factory along Interstate highway 40/85 just west of exit 158, east of Mebane NC (6801 Industrial Drive Mebane NC 27302-8603).

Several more are installed but not wired as of yesterday.  This might explain why GE has not listed them yet, not even on GE's locator page much less on the NREL alt fuel locator page.

But "working" is a relative term in this case.  While I was able to charge from this station a couple months ago (when  it was installed on the far side of the sidewalk next to the parking spot), it has since been moved closer to the parking area and I was not able to charge from it yesterday.  A Tesla, which was also at GE yesterday, had no trouble charging from this EVSE.  (Well, the Tesla tripped the circuit breaker feeding the EVSE, because the breaker needs to be increased from 30 to 40 amps for a 32 amp EVSE like this one.  Once the Tesla was set back to 24 amps, it charged fine.)  And there were reports of a Leaf and a Volt being able to charge there recently.  But both of those EVs max out at 16 amps, I believe.

After several attempts, we got the Th!nk to start charging once by inserting the connector very slowly,  but we could not repeat it.  The GE WattStation uses the Yazaki brand J1772 plug, while the EVSE that came with my Th!nk has the IIT Cannon brand plug, which works fine with my Th!nk.

I  have heard several reports of incompatibility between Leafs and Blink charging stations, if I recall.  I hope I can help GE get to the bottom of this issue soon.  We need as many reliable EVSE out there as possible, regardless of the manufacturer.  I have yet to find a Blink EVSE in my area.

By the way, I did not have any trouble charging the Th!nk from the AeroVironment EVSE at the local Nissan dealer.  While I have charged at many places, I usually bring my own EVSE and plug into a conventional outlet.  I have two Clipper Creek EVSEs (one for 120 volts, and a large 240 volt unit) and my now favorite 240 volt portable EVSE made by Th!nk in Europe, which has a button on the front to change settings from 12 to 16 amps.  It looks just like a black version of the portable Clipper Creek EVSE except for the button and labels.

11 September 2011

Another EV arrives in North Carolina

This last week, Nissan dealers in my area started receiving demonstrator models of the Leaf EV.  My wife and I took test drive this morning, and we both had favorable impressions of the Leaf.

Of course, you probably cannot get a Leaf until next year unless you ordered some time ago.  Heck, it is not easy to get a Think City EV at the moment either, unless you live in Indiana.  (I am not sure what is going on with Think since they came out of bankruptcy, but I will be patient and post about that later.)

While the Leaf is more of a "conventional" car than the Think, I am not sure that is an unqualified advantage.  And while the Leaf is nicely appointed inside, it is not what my wife nor I would call cute.  I would not expect to get asked about it were I to drive one, the way I constantly get asked about the Think City EV.  Some would call the Think insufferably cute, although it is a matter of taste.  I have even given rides to car dealers when I was dropping of the old gas car for service and my wife picked me up in the Think.  Usually the customer gets a test drive, but the Think is so iconic that sometimes the car salesman ask for a ride in the customer's car!  The Nissan dealer was all over my Think this morning, though we did not have time to give him a ride.  Of course I charged the Think at the Nissan dealer while test driving the Leaf.

As a 4 seat car, the Leaf has good leg room in the rear.  The trunk space is reasonable but nothing near the cavernous space in the back of the 2 seat Think.  The Leaf is a bit more powerful than the Think and a bit quieter.  Range and charging time are very similar.  (The Leaf that our dealer had was not equipped with the fast charge port, and he was of the opinion that a fast charge station was not going to be installed at his dealership.)  Obviously the Leaf is much larger than the Think.  That cuts both ways.  If you have kids at home, the Think is probably not for you.  If you don't have kids at home, the fantastic maneuverability and visibility of the Think EV is addictive.
No wasted space under the hood of a Think City EV

After spending some time looking under the hood of the Leaf (sorry, I forgot to take pictures) I had the renewed impression that the Leaf platform was not designed exclusively as an EV, there is plenty of wasted space under the hood.  It could be much shorter, giving better visibility particularly around tight urban corners.  There are routes we take in town only when we are in the Think EV, because in our gas car (with a hood as long as the Leaf's hood) it is just too hard to see around some corners without getting your front dangerously out into traffic.  And Think did this without sacrificing crash safety.  The strength of the metal cage protecting the passenger compartment was one of the primary reasons that Ford purchased Think back in the late 1990s.  (As we all know, after the California Air Resources Board dropped its EV mandate in the early 2000's, GM crushed their EV1s and Ford sold Think.)

I am reminded of the electronics of the last century, which tended to be treated as furniture.  Big stereos and TVs with big wooden cabinets were the norm for decades.  Today, the norms are much smaller, flat screens take up much less space even when the viewing area is much larger.  This is similar in a way to how the Think EV is small on the outside but big on the inside, since it was never compromised to also be able to package a combustion engine.  And even though we tend to have large flat screen TVs these days, we more and more tend to watch tiny screens that can fit in our pockets, or maybe a small laptop screen.  The most common cars in the mega cities of the future may well follow this same trend towards smaller, more efficient packaging that still leaves plenty of interior room due to the flexibility of electric only drive power.

But the two biggest reasons why I still prefer the Think over the Leaf are the Think's plastic body panels and very accurate battery gauge.  After 15 years in a Saturn with plastic body panels that still look great, I have no desire to go back to a tin can car that looks great the day you drive it off the lot, and then starts to look ratty after a few years unless you pamper it.  (I pamper my wife, I beat on my cars.  And both look great.)  The very first time I saw a Chevy Volt was about 6 weeks ago, and it already had a huge dent in it.  My Think does not dent easily at all.

But the battery gauge is the worst part of the Leaf.  Sure, it looks snazzy, but it only has 12 bars.  The Think has a very accurate needle gauge with about 1% resolution.  After putting 24,000 miles on my Mini E in one year, I was the king of arriving home at 0% on the battery gauge.  You cannot do that and remain sanguine when your battery gauge has only 9% resolution.  There are hacks posted on the forums showing how to build a more accurate battery gauge which plugs into the Leaf's diagnostic port.  I am sure that detracts from the nicely appointed interior of the Leaf.  Maybe Nissan will fix the battery gauge next year.

In the meantime, I am very happy to see more EVs arriving on the market in North Carolina.  The Leaf will obviously have wider appeal in the short term than the Think, but I remain extremely happy after buying a Think.  And, buying a Think put me in an EV about a year sooner than I could have if I had waited for a Leaf.

In this little neighborhood, we have my Think City EV and a Tesla owner who lives a few miles away, the Smart dealer in the next town over has offered the Smart Electric Drive for many months now (not sure how many takers there have been) and now the Leaf is in town (at least for test drives.)  Very soon the Chevy Volt will be arriving, perhaps this month.  What is that, five production EVs in the area soon?  I can't wait to see more choices.  The Mitsubishi iMiEV and the Ford Focus EV are hopefully coming next year.

04 September 2011

North Carolina is EV friendly

During the past few months I have given rides in my Think City EV (which does not have decals) to dozens of people, and talked with many more people about my Think when they ask about it in a parking lot.  Maybe this is due to the striking appearance of the Think, which many people guess at first to be a Fiat.  Perhaps part of it is just that people in North Carolina are generally friendly.

So to some extent, I have not been posting on this blog recently because of the amount of time I have spent doing "EV evangelizing" with local people in person.

As further evidence of how friendly people are here (and perhaps friendly in particular to EVs) I have yet to be turned down when looking for a place to plug in.  Currently I have plugged in at four businesses, a church and a friend's home when driving the Think EV outside of my home town.  One way or another I am able to get 240 volts at all these locations, even though only one has a built-in EVSE available.  I will post more about how I do that later, although there are lots of hints in older posts when I used a messier process.

This makes it rather easy to regularly make a 140 mile social trip in one day, even though our Think City has a best case 100 mile range.

31 May 2011

Why the Th!nk is a great car

The Think City electric car submerged in 5% saline solution while the car is running
We had some heavy rains in parts of the state recently.  There is always a report of someone driving into deep water, getting water sucked into the cylinders, and breaking a connecting rod.  Well, you should never drive into deep water but it is nice to know that it won't break anything in the Th!nk.  They tested it.  400 volts?  No problem.  But seriously, don't try this in any car.
Quoting from Th!nk's US web site: "THINK City has been put through extensive testing and validation, including hundreds of computer simulations, over 50 sled tests and more than 20 full-vehicle crash tests. Comprehensive electrical testing and validation have also been conducted over extended periods, including deep-water wading and total submergence in salt water with all electrical systems activated."

There is also lots of little stuff I like.

The air conditioning is powerful.  We had 98 degrees F today (37 C) and we were very comfortable in the Think EV without turning up the AC all the way.

The horn is righteously loud, and has two tones.  (I believe the musical interval produced by the horns is a fifth.)  No one ignores the Th!nk when it honks at them.  Not your typical small car "beep".

The settings of the dash board controls can all be distinguished by feel, you do not have to take your eyes off the road to check where the fan is, if the AC is on, etc.  The controls on the Mini E mostly required a glance to figure out where they were set, which I find to be a safety concern.

The 12 volt outlet works when the car is turned off, making it easy to slow-charge the 12 volt accessory battery without jumper cables.  This should never be needed, but I heard a story on the radio just last weekend where a Prius owner needed to charge his 12 volt battery and could not even find it.  Most Japanese cars do not keep the 12 volt outlet active when the car is off.  If I recall, the Mini E did not either.

The center of gravity is very low since the batteries are under the seats.  It will take corners very fast with out a complaint.  The handling is very good in my humble opinion.  And although it is not nearly as fast as the Mini E, everyone I take for a drive comments on the great acceleration.

I like the recirculate button since it will stay on as long as I want it on.  This was one of the MOST annoying things about the Mini E.  We were in traffic today with some smoky cars.  I turned on the air recirculation so we did not have to smell them.  My car pool coworker said, "This car does not Stink, this car is a Think!"  (Not bad for some one who's first language is not English.)  Of course you should not leave the recirculate on forever, fresh air is good when available.

Absolutely reliable charging.  I have charged the Th!nk dozens of times and I have never had to restart charging or come back to find the car stopped charging before the battery was at 100%.  I don't know about other Mini E drivers, but I probably had to try again one out of five times when charging at 120 volts in the Mini E.  And of course the problems charging the Mini E at 245 volts and above were very widespread.  (To be fair, I have not setup for 240 volt charging with the Th!nk yet.  And I am sure BMW will not make that mistake again.)

I like other mundane stuff like huge cargo space (the Mini E had very little), excellent rear visibility such as you have never seen, long life no rust no dent no scratch plastic body panels (with the "Blue Suede Shoes" look), essentially no maintenance (well, I still need to clean the windows sometimes), 2.1 cents per mile to charge the battery compared to gasoline costs that can be ten times higher, no support to OPEC but support to other American Energy Workers like coal miners or nuclear workers or hydro/wind/solar whatever.  I like that it is a car assembled in America with an American Made battery from an American owned company, OK I will stop now.

I am loving it, can you tell?

Ah, but my wife called the Th!nk EV "the ersatz 458" recently.  She still misses the Mini E.  So do I.  But we don't miss the lease payments!!

One more thing.  The Th!nk has all the gauges you need and nothing more.  No unreliable "miles remaining" estimate that only makes people nervous.  No battery temperature, just a better quality battery and cooling system than the Mini E had.  Yeah yeah, I can hear some of you saying that more information is better.  Maybe not when you are driving.  How did that song go?  "Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel!  The future's uncertain and the end is always near."

OK, I promise to never quote Jim Morrison again.  I promise.

22 May 2011

100 mile range at moderate speeds as advertised by Th!nk, 96% charging efficiency

We drove one hundred miles on a single charge yesterday in our new Th!nk City EV.  The low battery light came on at about 99.5 miles, and the gauge indicated several miles of range left, perhaps just under 10.

Most of this drive was done on back roads at speeds of 45 mph, but with many stops going through small towns.  We used the air conditioning for about 25 miles, I guess.  The usual EV driving technique of trying to slow down only with regenerative braking is instinctive for me after 25,000 miles driving the Mini E.  However, it takes a bit more care in the Th!nk since the regen is not as strong as the Mini E regen.  This technique is essential to getting the best range in an EV of course.  And it makes a noticeable difference in gas cars as well, it is just not as noticeable since efficiency of gas cars is so very low to start with.

I plan to test the range again on the freeway in the Economy mode, which is 60 mph top speed, and hopefully later in the Drive mode, which has 70 mph as the top speed.

On this trip I took a Garmin GPS which indicated that my Th!nk City EV reads a little high on the speedometer, just like my wife's Honda.  At 59 mph on the speedometer, the GPS says 55.  While my wife's Honda has the exact same speed offset, my old Mercedes 240D read even higher, almost 7 mph off at 65 mph.  However my Saturn agrees precisely with the Garmin.

Recharging the Th!nk after my 100 mile trip consumed 23.6 kwh, a bit less than the 24 kwh specified to charge fully from zero.  Perhaps this is because I stopped when the low battery light came on, and I had several miles of range left.  This agrees with Th!nk's claim of 96% charging efficiency.  See slide #12 at this link, original source is here if you can open a PDF file.

Charge time agrees closely with the Frequently Asked Questions  on the Th!nk website.  They claim 18 hours for a full charge from 110 volts.  I measured 19 hours 19 minutes.

The bottom line is that the Th!nk adds about 5.2 miles of range per hour when charging at 116 volts, versus about 3 miles of range per hour of charging at 110 volts for the Mini E.

This high charging efficiency is a significant advantage over the Mini E which in my experience took over 30 hours to fully charge from 120 volts, even though they claimed 24 hours.  (At work, I could only charge the Mini E at 110 volts, there was no 208 volt supply available to me until near the end of the lease.)  The Mini E battery pack is only about 16% larger than the Th!nk battery, so most of this difference is in charging efficiency.  I do not believe this is AC Propulsion's fault, I suspect it has more to do with poor BMW decisions like running the battery cooling fans during charging even if they are not needed.  (Keep in mind the Mini E is a prototype.)  As I found out, this can be a fatal flaw when charging the Mini E outside in the winter unless you put a cabin heater in the Mini E.  The Th!nk should have no such problem.  In addition, the battery temperature range of the Ener Del battery pack is wider, on both the hot and cold extremes.

To be fair, the Mini E charging efficiency appeared to be much better at 220 volts, presumably because the parasitic fan power is a smaller percentage of the total.

The older fourth generation Th!nk reported had a charging efficiency of about 64%, consuming 18 kwh to fully charge the 11.5 kwh NiCad battery.  Nice that our generation 5 Th!nk has more than twice the battery capacity and roughly 50% more efficient charging.  But I do miss the 12 kw charge rate available in the Mini E, even if I did not use it much.  The 3.8 kw charger in the Th!nk is a limitation for long trips.

19 May 2011

Th!nk City EV is shipping in Norway again

I hear from Tom in Oslo that deliveries have restarted to Th!nk showrooms in Norway.  Th!nk builds the City EV in Finland for the Euro market, and they use a different power connector, not the SAE J1772 standard used in the US version of the Th!nk.

This is interesting since apparently the Japanese EVs showing up in Norway do use the J1772 connector.  The battery is also different in the Euro version of the Th!nk, it is not the 24 kwh Lithium Ion battery from Ener Del that we get in the US.  I'll save the details on the Euro version until later.

I will get around to interior photos later, but here is one photo, with the Th!nk City EV Interior Designer Katinka von der Lippe sitting in the car: 

Correction, I am told that the Ener Del Lithium Ion battery is now available in Norway, in addition to the Zebra sodium battery.

17 May 2011

Th!nk is more conspicuous than Mini E

I never had anyone stop me in the Mini E to ask about it.  But the Th!nk EV stands out a bit more.

Today, in the rain, someone got out two cars ahead of me at a stop light and ran back to give me a phone number.  They wanted to know more about the EV.

Another tidbit I learned today: while the car can sustain 70 mph, the road speed limit does not completely cut power until 75 mph going down hill.  A lot of blogs are claiming a top speed of 60, which is only in Economy mode.

I don't have enough miles to comment much on range yet, except that 100 seems easy off the freeway.  And the range appears less elastic than the Mini E, simply because there is less power to waste.

15 May 2011

Lots of cargo

This might not mean much to you if you have never driven a Mini E, which has no back seat.  But here is a photo of five suitcases in the back of the Think City EV.  Most of these suitcases are very large.

Our Think EV does not have a back seat either but it does have a lot of room, unlike the Mini E.  Here is another view with the suitcases outside the car.
For those unfamiliar, the Mini E is a prototype car for research.  The entire back seat is taken up by batteries.  When we took the Mini E on long trips, we had to add a roof rack.  Pictures are here.  The storage space in the Mini E is perhaps comparable to the Smart ED, although nothing much else is comparable. 
(We had to give the Mini E back when we moved to NC. It is not supported here.)

The Think City EV was designed from the ground up as an EV, with the batteries under the seats.  So there is about a cubic yard of cargo space in the back of this two seater.

And the seats in our fifth generation Think EV can lean all the way back when the back is not completely full of suitcases.

Now that I mention it, the best part is that they cannot take the Think EV away from us if we move!  We own it, unlike the Mini E which was only leased.  (You cannot get it in the US anymore.)

14 May 2011

Back in the EV saddle

We received our Think EV yesterday.  This is generation 5, for those in Europe who have had access to earlier Think EV models for decades.

For those of you who are on long waiting lists to get an EV from a competitor with less experience in EVs, hear this:  It took about 3 days from the time I wired the money to Think in Indiana until the time it arrived at our driveway in NC.  Depending on how far you are from Indiana, it might vary.  Ours arrived in a covered straight truck and was off-loaded locally to a flat bed.

We have only put about 30 miles on it so far, but it seems a little better than the model I test drove outside of Indianapolis a few weeks ago.  I suspect the demo I drove had the software set for a slightly lower top speed according to Euro standards, but ours has a top speed slightly over 70 mph on flat roads.

It is too soon to tell for sure, but my first impression is that the Think is a bit more comfortable than the Mini E which had rather stiff seats.  I once drove Grandma from Long Island NY down to central New Jersey in the Mini E and she refused to ride in it again because of the hard seats.  (Funny, she is 100% German but all this time in the US must have made her soft.)

Another first impression is that it has better handling, which surprises me.  Not that the Mini E was not fun to drive, but it took me weeks of driving over 600 miles per week to feel comfortable with the "twitchy" Mini E steering.  I am not a car geek, so I cannot talk about over-steer or whatever.  But the Think feels completely comfortable to drive from the get go.

Visibility out the back window is amazing if the car is empty.  They say in defensive driving classes that backing up is one of the most dangerous things you can do.  I believe it is much less so in the Think.  No need at all for a backup camera when unloaded.

Of course the Think has a lot less power than the Mini E, which is fine with me.  The Think has adequate power, and I always felt the Mini E had too much.  And the built-in Think charger is wimpy, as are the built-in chargers in most of this generation of EVs such as the Leaf and the Volt.  But since my commute is down from 600 miles per week to 80 miles, that is not a problem for me.

At low speeds the Think is not as quiet as the Mini E.  I believe I hear the vacuum pump and the power steering, which I was told is electrically driven hydraulic.  So there is no need for some type of audible warning for pedestrians.  (Which I feel is ridiculous anyway, and just an oblique attempt to undermine EVs.)

On the highway, the road noise might be even less than the Mini E while the motor whir is noticeable at 70 mph.  But I do not take the freeway much anymore.  Years ago I found I preferred to drive back roads instead of the freeway.  This happened long before I had a chance to drive on biodiesel, which I did for several years before the Mini E, and very long before I had a chance to get into an EV.

So my first impression is that the Think is pretty close to perfect for my needs.  It costs about $4000 less than it would to lease the Smart EV for 4 years, and the Think should easily last 6 times longer than the Smart EV lease.

The rear storage is huge, I will post photos later.

I see a lot of misinformation in the major EV blogs about Ener1 writing off their investment in Think.  And a lot of misinformation generally about Think.  I may comment on that in detail later, but suffice it to say for now that it makes me wonder if the main stream EV blogs are not really just shills for the major car companies who are trying to get into the EV business and distract from their inexperience and even downright recent animosity towards EVs.

My main attraction to the Think over competitors is domestic content (the battery in made in the US by a US company, which is still supplying Think regardless of changes in the mutual investments), domestic assembly and no rust plastic body panels.

But the overwhelming consideration was immediate availability.  I was not willing to wait up to another year for an EV from a less experienced EV maker while paying nearly $4 a gallon for gasoline.  What is that new movie called, "Gashole"?  That about sums it up.

To be fair, my wife is more skeptical about the Think, due to the motor whir at speed.  Well, she also really misses Mini E 458.  So do I.  But no more pouting when we see Minis on the road.  We are back in the EV saddle again!

04 April 2011

Public charge station maps

Sorry if this is old news to some of you, but as I approach getting another electric car I am starting to pay attention to recent developments.  One is the updated maps of public charging stations.

Coulomb Technologies Charge Point network has a nice interface.  They don't list anything in my town yet but there are lots nearby.

As you zoom in there is more detail of course

There is talk about the Google maps direct search but it does not have this level of detail as far as I could tell, and it is uncharacteristically fussy about the wording of your query.

But the best is probably the Alternative Fuels Locater:

Think EV now available in North America, updated 18 April 2011

I spoke with Tim Hylen from Think today, tim dot hylen at thinkev dot com

Currently the Think EV bottom line is $28995 after the $7500 federal tax credit but before any local incentives, of which I have none in NC.  (MSRP is $36,495 and qualifies for the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit.)  One data sheet is here, and range data is here.  The press release from Finland in 2010 is here.

People living within 100 miles of Indianapolis or Elkhart Indiana have significant additional local incentives, on the order of $9,000.  The details are here.  As I live in NC, this does not help me. 

The Think EV has an air cooled battery that draws outside air, allowing the recirculation button in the cabin to stay on, unlike the Mini E.  However, there is no battery heater.  I don't see a problem for me, since I live at latitude 36.1 degrees north and I have a garage to park in.  Still I have some questions about cold weather charging performance of the EnerDel batteries.

Tim told me that the cabin heater uses a liquid, so I expect it will be more reliable than the notorious Mini E cabin heater which is completely unreliable.

I consider the plastic body panels to be a significant advantage, suggesting the car might outlast me.  The first recommended service is at 40,000 miles for brake pads.  I prefer local content for the same reason that I pay a premium for local vegetables.  And being the batteries are a significant part of the cost of the car, I really like that they are made in Indiana.

I don't like the internal charger that is apparently 3.3 kw.  Tim said that EnerDel is working on a level 3 connection but there is no time line on availability.

I really like the huge cargo capacity in back, quite a change from the Mini E.  The four seat option that is available in Europe does not have a time line for US introduction according to Tim.

Think is using Tom Woods Subaru in Indianapolis for service, but I gather that Tim handles sales directly for now while they ramp up.  I expect to meet him at Tom Woods for a test drive in a few weeks.  Tim indicated that the car can be shipped to me, and even the paper work can be done remotely. 

The Think has enough range to get from my home to Raleigh NC and back in an afternoon, as long as I can find 240 volts to charge from for a couple hours while I'm there.  I cannot say this of the Smart ED which is already available locally, but leases for $600 per month over 4 years, in addition to something like $4200 down up front.  The Smart ED does have liquid thermal management for the battery, but not enough range for my weekend needs.  Even the Think would have a hard time getting to Charlotte and back in the same day, due to it's limited charge rate.  But I have not yet had a reason to go that far on the weekends.

Tim said the HVAC could run while the car was plugged in but there is no remote control for this.  I plan to confirm that when I test drive it.

And, the Think comes with a Clipper Creek level 1 EVSE, unlike the Nissan supplied 120 volt interface that reportedly does not fully comply with SAE J1772 safety features such as diode load to enable charging.  I am quite confident that Clipper Creek fully complies.

I strongly expect that the Think will have better range estimation than the Leaf, which has reportedly left a couple drivers stranded when the gauge went from 30 miles remaining to dead in the space of a mile or two.  Think has been selling electric cars for 20 years on and off.

All in all the Think strikes me a rather comparable to the Mini E technology wise, albeit with a much lower power output which I don't mind, and a much lower charge rate which I do mind.  But with significant domestic content, superior plastic body panels, and probably a much better cabin heater it might be good enough.  I would not consider the Leaf with the reports I have heard that leave me wondering what other corners they cut.  The only question is, can I wait for the Focus electric or talk myself into the ACP conversion that AutoPort of Delaware is offering?