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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Norwegian company Th!nk is hoping to kick start the market for electric cars with its upcoming five-seater, the Ox.

Although an Ox is not what I’d call a particularly stylish or intelligent animal, don’t let the name confuse you — the Th!nk Ox could be about the most attractive and functional electric car ever designed. Before the debate starts over that claim, note the all-important “and” between the words attractive and functional.

Due out in 2010/2011, the Ox is about the size of a Toyota Prius. It can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds, travel between 125 and 155 miles on a single charge, and its lithium-ion batteries can be charged to 80% capacity in less than an hour.

Solar panels on its roof power equipment such as the radio, navigation system, instrument panel, and air conditioning — even while parked with the car switched off.

The Ox is fully connected: GPS, mobile internet, a customizable digital dashboard, as well as a whole host of other modern features, all link the driver to his or her surroundings.

In April we wrote about Th!nk’s new North American partnership with venture firms RockPort Capital and Kleiner Perkins. This partnership gave rise to ThInk North America.

It may not seem like a big deal, but Rockport Capital and Kleiner Perkins have an excellent track record when it comes to choosing and investing in winners. Indeed, both firms provided much needed funding to companies such as Amazon and Google when they were mere start-ups.

These days, with the number of start-up electric vehicle companies nearing the ridiculous stage, it’s hard to know who among them will actually stand the test of time.

Yet Th!nk has positioned itself to be a promising competitor in the race, and, from the get-go, looks as if it has endurance.

Not only does Think have the backing of the above venture powerhouses, its first vehicle, the City, is already being sold in Europe for around US $25,000. Think is on track to sell about 10,000 of them there this year.

With the establishment of Think North America, the City will be available to US customers by early 2009. What does this mean for the rest of us? Given that Th!nk already has a working product and has the backing of some prestigious financiers, it looks like the Ox is for real. It’s exciting to think it might be my next car.

Original here

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