When we heard that Th!nk was coming to America our cynicism censors immediately lit up. Is this the same Th!nk that failed here before, went bankrupt, had their electric bike recalled and has annoying punctuation in their name? Yes. But they got that sweet sweet Kleiner Perkins VC money, right? True, that money has yet to produce a commercially successful car. The interesting history of all that below.
Our first introduction to Kleiner Perkins and the world of electric vehicles came with their investment in EEstor, a company based in Texas working on an electric battery for ZENN Motors. Unfortunately, the Canadian governor is making it hard for ZENN to sell cars in Canada. So as of now, things aren't looking great, though battery development continues.
Most recently, Kleiner Perkins came up with relation to the Fisker Karma Luxury Hybrid, which is a vehicle that piqued our interest due to its attractive proportions and relatively low price tag of $80K. Though the company has yet to experience the usual electric car delays, it is dealing with an incredible amount of litigation in the Fisker-Tesla girl fight. Will this delay production of the car? Maybe, maybe not.
Speaking of production delays, what about the Tesla roadster? Everyone was so excited about it but it has been delayed thanks to transmission problems, lawsuits, et cetera. Yes, they claim they're shipping production units now, but not only is it in low volumes, it's not even enough to fulfill the backlog of orders. Did we mention Tesla is backed by Kleiner Perkin's VC rivals at Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
And don't get us started on the 2011/2012/201X Chevy Volt. An ongoing development that is being backed by an OEM — thus it relies not-so-much on VC dollars so much as R&D dollars. When will we see a production version of that particular vehicle? Your guess is as good as GM's word.
But hey, a 65 mph-capable electric car with potentially a 110-mile range for $25K, which Th!nk is offering, doesn't sound bad. Excuse our skepticism, but we'll believe it when we see it clear all the hurdles and successfully market itself to the tens of thousands of consumer they're planning to reach. Do we want cars like this to succeed? Yes. Electric cars, hybrid cars, biodiesel cars... whatever. Is it good, then, that firms are putting up the bank for these projects? Yes. We're just glad it isn't our money.
If you want an electric car for the city, full hybrids like the 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid can be driven in a way that they provide mostly electric power. While we're not huge fans of these hybrids in spirited driving, you can stretch a gallon of gas pretty far in slow city commuting. That's something.