17 April 2012

I am free! From maintenance, oil, etc.

We ordered our second Think City EV today, red this time.  It is about one year since we ordered our first blue Think, and the price is significantly lower due to the closeout of the 2011 models.

Of course, a lot has changed in the EV world since the photo above.  There are now many more Nissan EVs and Volt (mongrels?) on the road than there are Thinks or Teslas.  This is all good.  But how many of these other EVs have a proven track record, with a steady used market of ten year old models selling every day?  Here are some Norwegian used car listings for Think, and the translated version in English (but don't trust the distance and monetary units).  My understanding is that about 700 of the older fourth generation Think EVs are running around Norway, and many more scattered around Europe.  In Germany, the 4th gen Thinks are popular car to convert to Lithium Ion batteries from the original flooded NiCad.  The EV1 was a contemporary of the 4th gen Think, but we all know what happened to the EV1.

So I am proud to own a car (soon my wife will also) from the oldest dedicated EV maker on the planet, looking back on a history of reliability and forward to a future of new models, perhaps next year.  Everything I am hearing points to a promising future from a well capitalized company, now headquartered in Munich.  I wish I had something solid to report, maybe soon.  But the scuttlebutt makes me smile.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Volt.  We really thought about buying one.  But after almost 10,000 miles in our 5th gen Think EV with absolutely no maintenance, I really don't want to see another car with exhaust pipes, belts, pressurized hoses, alternators, EGR valves, spark plugs, toxic fuels, oil to be changed every few months, catalytic convertors, filters, on and on and on.

"I am free! ...And I am waiting for you to follow me" as The Who said so many years ago.

Well, I am following those people in the photo above, who are in Finland.  No, that is not the old factory in Aurskog Norway, nor Elkhart Indiana.

Freedom indeed.  On so many levels.  From noise.  From big oil.  From maintenance, that is the big one to me now.


  1. Congrats, I am still considering getting mine. I live in a Townhouse in Maryland, so I am awaiting a final verdict from my HOA as to my charging set up.

    Hopefully I can join the club soon.

  2. Hi emoll

    We lived in a townhouse in New Jersey when we had the Mini E. Do you have a garage? We never asked the HOA, I just put a 60 amp 240 volt circuit in the garage. Took it out when we moved.

    There may only be 40 cars left at the factory in Elkhart, from what I am hearing. Do you have a reservation in? Seems like they are moving fast.

    Hope it works for you.

  3. Jim,

    Congratulations on your Think number two! Are you able to find someone close to you to diagnose and service your Think if the need arises? How do you feel about the validity of the warranty at this point? I've heard of issues with the heater, main computer and windshields cracking.

    It is encouraging to hear that you haven't had any of those problems with yours. Do you know if those issues were common or have been ironed out?

    emoll, I also live in Maryland. I don't have a garage and will may have to run an extension cord to my parking spot. The 110 volt Level 1 charging should be sufficient for my daily use.

    1. Lanny

      There were problems with the early European versions of the heater which were fixed before production started in the US. Bubbles were outgassing from the coolant and eventually exposed the heating element. There is a vent in all US models.

      We also have the third version of the Battery Management System, if that is what you mean by main computer. So this one is capable of 16 amps (I usually see 15) at 240 volts. If I recall, it is also one unit, not two like the early 2008 version in Europe. I heard of a couple recalls on the first few Thinks in the US, nothing since.

      I get most of my technical information by corresponding with Think drivers in Norway and from from:
      Just put it into Google Translate. They welcome posts in English.

      I have not heard of windshield problems, but the Elkhart factory will remain as a parts and service center, although production may not return to the US. I may have to go to Maryland if there is a serious service need but I do not expect it. The company is well capitalized, I have no concern about parts availability.

      There is a wiki page at those forums which cross references to after market parts, many are common between the Think and other models from Peugeot, Ford, etc.


      There HAVE been problems with the molten salt battery in Europe, but that is not available here. Folks have had accidents and a few days later the battery dies, and insurance will not pay since it was OK immediately after the accident. Probably the thermos bottle cracks.

    2. Jim,

      You mentioned that may have to go to Maryland if there is a serious service need. We are have been trying to confirm that there is at least one qualified technician with the required Th!nk diagnostic equipment here in Maryland. I would feel a lot more comfortable if we could actually visit or speak with a person in the area who is trained and equipped for Th!nk. Can you put us in touch with the actual technician?

    3. Lanny

      Euro Star Autos says they have service manuals and tools on order, and they are scheduling factory training for their service technicians now. (These guys work on Ferrari and other high end cars, so they do not see the Think as difficult to service.)

      I was told by Green Wheels Chicago that they got the factory training and materials last year.

      And the Ford dealer in San Diego who is selling the Thinks now told me that they serviced the fourth generation Thinks ten years ago. I assume he is up to speed on the new ones as well, I will check with him again.

  4. I am trying to decide whether or not to make the reservation. The main problem is that I do not have a garage. We have some grass in front, then the sidewalk and the cars are parked on the other side of the sidewalk.

    the issue is how to get power from our place, over or under the sidewalk and to the car. Need to find out if I am allowed to go under to set up a level 2 next to the car.

    1. OK, I see. You do need to ask the HOA about level 2.

      I wonder if that rubber strip they use to prevent tripping on a cord might work in the short term? I will try to find out what it is called. The bottom is split to put the cord in, and on top it tapers down to flush on both sides of the cord so no one will trip on it.

      If you do use an extension cord, I recommend at least 12 gauge, that might be hard to fit in the no-trip-strip.

    2. emoll,

      I have the same situation of having a lightly travelled sidewalk between my house and where the car will be parked. I am considering doing what Jim suggested using a light or medium duty cable cover such as the ones on http://cableorganizer.com/cord-covers/

      I have talked to several other EV owners who have been doing that. One fellow in the EV club I belong to has been charging various electric cars from his townhouse for 20 years and no one has ever said anything.

      Since you live in Maryland, you might be interested in the Electric Vehicle Association of DC. We are having a meeting tonight at 7:00 in the basement of the Silver Spring Library. We will be talking about the Th!nk as several of us are interested in getting one. You are welcome to come. http://evadc.org

  5. Lanny

    Thanks for the link, that is exactly what I meant.

    Too bad your EV club meets on week nights. If you are ever in Burlington North Carolina on the first Saturday of the month, consider dropping by our EV meeting: