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Th!nk City - Click above for high-res image gallery

With its first all-electric cars on the way to the U.S. later this year, Think is trying to get the market fired up about electric cars. Talk of 15-minute charge times and which cities are best suited for electric vehicle (EV) introduction, Think is setting the table as best it can. Today, Think is releasing the results of a customer survey that found people looking to buy EVs "would be willing to accept less than 100 miles range-if the price is right."

A team of MBA students from University of Michigan Ross School of Business asked a total of 367 "potential electric vehicle customers" if a range of 70 to 80 miles would be acceptable if the price of the car dropped by $5,000. About half of the respondents said that was fine. Only nine percent said they'd be willing to pay even less for an EV that can only go 50 miles. On the other end of the spectrum, 55 percent said they'd pay an extra five grand to be able to go 150-160 miles per charge. Other automakers are aware of this, too. Tesla Motors, for example, has said it will offer a range of batteries in the Model S.

When we talked to Think CEO Richard Canny in late March at the Valmet Automotive plant where the Think City is made, he said, "We don't intend to give people a choice between battery A, B or C, for example." He may have been talking about different battery chemistries instead of range capabilities, but Think's idea for the City is to make it simple for the consumer. Paying more (or less) for a longer (or shorter) range isn't too complicated, but it does introduce a variable where the there was none before. In a statement to the press, Canny said this new survey shows that, " Offering different sizes of batteries for different customers is an intriguing idea."

Now, let's conduct our own little survey: would you like an EV with a really short range? How short is too short?

What is the shortest-range electric car that would work for you?
200 miles 413 (20.6%)
150 miles 327 (16.3%)
100 miles 558 (27.8%)
75 miles 333 (16.6%)
50 miles 263 (13.1%)
25 miles 68 (3.4%)
I like my EV to just sit in the yard, thank you. 44 (2.2%)


[Source: Think]

PRESS RELEASE

THINK SURVEY SHOWS EV CUSTOMERS WILLING TO TRADE RANGE FOR PRICE

LAS VEGAS, May 10, 2010 – Today, electric car maker THINK released results of a customer survey that suggests potential electric vehicle customers would be willing to accept less than 100 miles range-if the price is right.

One hundred miles range has long been considered a customer requirement for full-functioning, highway-capable electric vehicles. In a survey of potential electric vehicle customers, THINK found that 50 percent of the respondents would be willing to accept 70-80 miles range, if it reduced the cost of the vehicle by $5,000. The online survey was conducted by a team of MBA students from University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

The survey also indicated that potential electric vehicle customers would be willing to pay more for extended range. Fifty-five percent of the respondents indicated that they would pay a $5,000 premium for an electric vehicle with 150-160 mile range. Only nine percent of potential customers said they were interested in reducing their range below 50 miles for a greater discount.

"Offering different sizes of batteries for different customers is an intriguing idea," said Richard Canny. "Customer support for it will likely grow as fast charging technology becomes more widespread."

The THINK City electric car, being sold in Europe today and coming to the United States later this year, has a range of 100 miles on a single charge. The company announced in January that it was working with AeroVironment, a leading developer and supplier of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to promote fast changing project using AV's level III fast-charge system and the THINK City electric vehicle.

A total of 367 consumers completed the survey. Survey invitations were sent to readers of relevant online blogs and forums; THINK's Twitter followers; visitors to the EV Pavilion at the 2010 New York Auto Show; U-M alumni in select cities; and Ross School of Business MBA candidates. Respondents were filtered through a series of screening criteria to include only those who are likely to consider an electric vehicle within THINK's segment. Ninety-four respondents met the criteria and were included in the analysis.

About THINK:
THINK is a pioneer in electric vehicles and a leader in electric vehicle technology, developed and proven over 19 years. It is one of the few companies that are currently producing highway-ready, fully electric vehicles for sale – the THINK City. THINK is also a leader in electric drive-system technology, and was the first to offer a modular and flexible EV drive-train solution in the business-to-business sector. With its Scandinavian origins and sustainability mindset, THINK is one of the most carbon efficient car companies in the world.

THINK has established a U.S. subsidiary – THINK North America, a stand-alone business that will include manufacturing, product development, sales and distribution. The company has an active application before the U.S. Energy Department under the $25-billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program designed to spur development of more fuel efficient vehicles, including pure electric and hybrid electric vehicles. More information about THINK is available at www.thinkev.com
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  • 40 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Think is releasing the results of a customer survey that found people looking to buy EVs "would be willing to accept less than 100 miles range-if the price is right."

      367 "potential electric vehicle customers"

      I love surveys, but really who did they ask? Did they ask folks who are foaming at mouth over getting an EV? (some ABG posters come to mind) Or did they ask folks who said they would consider an EV? My suggestion, give the car the longest range possible and price it accordingly. Variable pricing based on range, may work for early adopters but for the mainstream buyer I'm not sure that is an effective strategy. If I can afford a model S when it comes out I will only be interested in the 300 mile model.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Yes, it is possible, but that is going to take a lot of infrastructure changing. The 4 hour charging system is a 70Amp system . . . most homes really cannot handle that and will need to be upgraded.
        http://www.teslamotors.com/electric/charging.php

        200 to 250 is doable. Going above 300 is also do-able but it is not something that is going to happen until many years down the road. The combined costs of a battery pack that big, the changes to home wiring that need to be done to handle such a big charger, and the cost of the big charger itself make it prohibitively expensive for any but the wealthy. And those people an afford the gasoline.
        • 2 Months Ago
        "200 to 250 is doable. Going above 300 is also do-able but it is not something that is going to happen until many years down the road. The combined costs of a battery pack that big, the changes to home wiring that need to be done to handle such a big charger, and the cost of the big charger itself make it prohibitively expensive for any but the wealthy. And those people an afford the gasoline."

        This is where FCVs begin to fit into the picture. They will travel that 200-400 mile range, and have half the fuel costs of gasoline.

        BEVs are ideal for short range commuters. Battery limitations begin to be obvious as range and cargo requirements are increased.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Spec wrote: "The problem with 300 miles is that you cannot charge up such a large battery in 8 hours even with 220V"

        That's NOT a problem at all, unless you want to drive 300 miles on consecutive days.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Spec,

        "The problem with 300 miles is that you cannot charge up such a large battery in 8 hours even with 220V"

        The tesla Roadster has a 240 mile range and can be recharged at 240VAC in four hours. Even assuming it takes double the battery capacity to move the larger Model S 300 miles, it could still be recharged in 8 eight hours with the same charging infrastructure.
        • 2 Months Ago
        LTAW trolling again... NO FCVs will not "fit". PHEVs (EREVs) fit in nicely. The only thing worse than looking for a plug, is looking for a hydrogen station.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Could you elaborate on the down-side of that strategy? I really don't see one (provided the sales team explains exactly what battery range means to the especially thick who may not understand).
        [I'm not trolling, I'm curious.]
        • 2 Months Ago
        The problem with 300 miles is that you cannot charge up such a large battery in 8 hours even with 220V (unless the vehicle is super-efficient like that Aptera).

        If you want 300 miles, you really need a battery swapping system.

        100 miles probably is the sweet spot. It meets most needs, it can be charged overnight, it doesn't make the vehicle ridiculously expensive, etc.

        If you want to go further, get series hybrid or a gas vehicle.
        • 2 Months Ago
        "NO FCVs will not "fit". PHEVs (EREVs) fit in nicely."

        It's not trolling, it's just pointing out how the automakers are planning on fitting FCVs into their production schedules. BEVs are the NEVs for short distances, FCVs are the NEVs for longer distances. The automakers *are required* to produce a certain number of NEVs to offset the ICE fleet, and the only way to do it is to make both BEVS *and* FCVs.

        Anyway, FCVs are much cleaner than hybrids - not really surprising since they are also cleaner than BEVs powered by the average US household socket. Since we already know the EPA plans to regulate and label NEVs based on carbon generation at the source, and since we know they plan on using the average US grid mix to calculate CO2 emissions, it follows that FCVs will be widely depended on by the automakers to bring down their fleet carbon footprint.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Let me see if can explain it. If i am a mainstream buyer (limited EV knowledge) I am used to buying without worrying about refueling. My main concern with an EV will be can I make the rounds in my day and any "emergency" situations that may come up. For example, half way to school this morning my son tells me he forgot his math book, back home we go, added an additional 20 miles to my day. No big deal did not even think about it. Now I am in the Think store and I have to determine how many miles do I do? I start thinking about all the possible times I may add miles (no matter how unlikely) and I can see being turned off right away. If however like the Leaf, I know I have 100 miles (more like 70 real world) I only have to focus on 1 standard. I think most Americans inclination is to go for the cheaper price (hey we LOVE Walmart) and I worry that folks will buy the shorter range due to price (that's usually how we buy cars) and be disappointed. I want EVs to succeed and I think the focus should be on the mainstream buyer. The early adopters are in no matter what, it's the vast majority of other folks that have to be convinced. make it simple.
        • 2 Months Ago
        ""The automakers *are required* to produce a certain number of NEVs to offset the ICE fleet,"" -LTAW

        Yeah... PHEVs won't coun't toward those numbers. But BEVs will... and BEVs will be for sale... FCVs will only be for lease until at least 5 years from now. How does that count toward the requirement?

        Automakers will satisfy any minimum requirement for NEVs with BEVs. Please post the actual law. I am sure there is nothing in there that says automakers must produce Zero Emission Vehicles (PHEVs excluded) that exceed a certain mile range.

        PHEVs will not be built to satisfy that requirement.... but will count toward CAFE numbers. PHEVs will be built and sold because they fulfill the demand for an EV without range limitations... and for a reasonable cost. People aren't going to pay more for a fuel cell vehicle that gets the same functionality as a PHEV but requires hydrogen stations that haven't been built. Just to be cleaner during the trips over 40 miles.

        When range extended vehicles (or BEVs with towable range extenders) with 100 mile pure EV range hit the market... the EREV will be virtually as clean*** as a FCV when running in EV mode. WHICH IS 90% OF ALL DRIVING.

        *** a little cleaner when running on a NG dominate grid mix, a little dirtier running on a coal dominated grid mix.

        When in charge sustainment mode... it will be as clean as todays parallel hybrids.

        PHEVs are more cost effective. Fuel Cells that require a massive production volume to come down in price, and require a multi-billion dollar fueling infrastructure... will not fill that niche before PHEVs do!

        Fuel Cell cars are economic folly. The market will not accept them.

        The automakers and politicians are just blowing smoke because that brings in good money.
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Throwback . . . I understand your concerns. But if gasoline starts costing $10/gallon, you'll learn to adjust to having less range.

        Most people that get EVs adjust to it pretty quickly and don't view the range limitations as much of a problem. Most early EV buyers will probably have an alternate gas car for when they need to drive long distances. Those who buy an EV as their only car will need to live within the limitations and rent a gas car when needed.

        I'm in the camp that realizes that most people are not going to move to EVs readily. They are going to be dragged kicking & screaming from their gas cars when they just can't afford the gas anymore. But those days will eventually come whether you like it or not.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like to drive to the beach which is 150 miles away, so 200 for me. For everyday commuting 100 is enough.
      • 2 Months Ago
      My theory is that when most people talk about "range", what they really mean is "distance before going to filling station." They don't actually go 300 miles in a single trip. They just don't want to have to find the gas station every day. They don't realize that an EV *never* has to go to the filling station and starts every new morning full. Imagine if you had to take your cell phone to a gas station any time you wanted to recharge. How much battery life would you demand then? I bet it would be waaaay more than you do now. As EV buyers realize it is more like a cell phone, and that less battery means less cost, lower weight, better mileage and performance, that mythical insistence on 300 mile range will fade.

      The only way consumers will figure out what they -actually- need is if they have to pay accordingly. If it is all-you-can-eat they will always insist on a full plate and throw away the extra.

      Scaled prices will allow short range people to get into the game sooner and people to discover they don't really need the range they initially assumed.


      The batteries should be swappable for resale if possible though or buyers will have to make the choice for themselves *and* for whoever they sell it to next.

      @Jason, good point about weight. I wonder too.

      • 4 Years Ago
      The average U.S. household owns 2.28 cars, and 66% of car-owning households own 2+ cars. http://www.autospies.com/news/Study-Finds-Americans-Own-2-28-Vehicles-Per-Household-26437/

      Therefore, many households will have a another car (ICE, EREV, etc) capable of longer range trips. The BEV only has to handle one family-member's commute, and perhaps a share of the local shopping.

      In my household, the combination of a 50-mile BEV and an ICE-vehicle would be fine. But if we had to make do with only BEVs, one would need at least 200-miles range!
        • 2 Months Ago
        Bingo!

        You are exactly the demographic I was just commenting in this thread about - apparently.
        I think, for just the reasons you stated, that the EV is going to go over huge in more suburban-ish or smaller city-ish areas of the country.
        These families often have more than one vehicle and garage or drive-way parking for easy home charging.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Same situation. As both here have a car, she works 5km away I work 10km so really to give us an option of 25miles and be able to recharge in less then an hr at home no problem here i'd be all for it. And how's this my Wal-Mart, Galaxy Cinema, Zehrs & Dollar Store already have PHEV outlit (it's only 110 probably) but it's still something i can go do all my shopping see a movie and recharge my car for free (no coin slots) yet... I asked and we have no EVs in town unfortunitly...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Who came up with that survey, and what's the point of the last option? Additionally, what were the 22 goofballs thinking that selected it?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I know I'm on the high end for commuters, but I drive 90 miles a day and 100 miles is just cutting it too close. Besides, it's not if, but WHEN the battery will no longer store 100% of its charge, so 150 miles or more for me, thanks!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I vote 150 miles and I think until they reach that with battery power to spare that unfortunaly ev's will stay city bound, I would love to see more Tesla distance available though.
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Mike - agreed
        • 2 Months Ago
        I don't think they are going to stay city bound at all.
        I think they are going to go over big in the wealthier suburbs.

        A lot of these families are single income (good income) with soccer moms.
        They have two vehicles anyway - and the one used to shuttle kids around are often limited and known mileage vehicles.
        It wouldn't be such a big deal that over-the-road driving was precluded because it is a second vehicle anyway.
        So for weekend trips or what-not, the primary vehicle could be used.
        Or... as the other side of the coin.. a lot of people are driving set distances to the train station to commute into the city for work.
        Again - most driving is of relatively short and known distances and again - many of these families are multi-vehicle.
        • 2 Months Ago
        I picked 150 too. There is a place I need to travel quite regularly (maybe a couple times a month) that is roughly 100 miles away, and I would like to make it there without charging (and then charge when I get there).

        Given the current results, it is what I expected. 100 miles is the barrier for most people. I think for the most part, 100 is a psychological barrier, there is just something about that number (the 100% connotation, maybe something similar to the $1 vs $0.99 difference).

        However, I think 150 is the minimum that works for lots of people (probably 100 is barely enough, but they want some extra buffer).

        But given battery tech is progressing, I think we will see relatively affordable 200 mile BEVs come out in less than 5 years.
        • 2 Months Ago
        That will be when I truly start looking the way of an EV (when 200 miles is reached between charges at an affordable price )until then I will continue to try and downsize my fuel usage well still providing more then enough room for my family (I'm trading our van for a more fuel efficent car).
      • 2 Months Ago
      I'm glad to see a few Ecar companies and stories touting shorter range EVs finally. That is what they are ideal for, A SECOND CAR! No one is going to go coast to coast in any EV for the forseable future. But, they are ideal retirement communities (some now "offer" an electric car for residents to share), local errands, to school and back, etc. Thus, I am disappointed that only 3.7% voted for 25 miles, but I have renewed optimism seeing that 60% voted for 50 to 100 miles as enough. For the immediate future, KEEP YOUR Four Runner or big Volvo, take the family on summer vacation or to kids events, but just for one person to go get a pack of cigs or meet someone, a 30mile per day range is exactly what the average American drives in a big full size gas hog. Those batteries are expensive, require bigger motors, and retard handling. I don't want that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like Nissan hit it pretty well with the 100 mile Leaf.
        • 2 Months Ago
        And Think.

        I worry about Nissan's "100 mile" range though since it really is only 100 miles if you drive less than 30 mph.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Lets... One corrupt study does not make it fact. Their were so many prerequisites in that study you sight with the Mccarthy turned hydrogen nut. It was all done on peak demand and does not stand up at all in Oregon, Washington, Canada and countless other states and countries.

      BEV's are far more efficient that FCV's if both were using the same power source and not some mix that is gamed toward FCV's which is what Mccarthy's study does and it is based on CA grid during peak demand.

      Yes by all means lets take NEV's source of energy into account, how wonderfully fair as we do not take the source of oil into account. Count the cost getting the NG out of the ground for your FCV. Count the fact that it is a finite source and is unsustainable. Count all the compression energy and pump energy and other no see em's and you will find FCV's don't come close to BEV's.

      Run a FCV and a BEV off sunshine and your FCV will consume 2/3rd the energy of a BEV for the same amount of miles traveled. You FCV only does 321 miles, a Japanese EVclub car is superior to that at 343 miles traveled. Noticed I said traveled not construed or estimated or extrapolated, 343 physical miles traveled not hypothetical miles such as your mythical FCV Toyota's miles traveled. Imagine if a car corp realy wanted a BEV to travel far on one charge what they would come up with? Instead you have a private club making a EV go further than the auto corps can make a FCV go.
        • 2 Months Ago
        Given what has to happen to get H2 in your car vs. getting electricity in your car, I have to agree that BEVs are more efficient, per se. Until technology improves, however, some sort of range extension will be necessary for the "family vehicle" and the commercial market, whether the onboard energy is gas, diesel, NG, biofuels or H2.

        I will also agree with EVSH and not with LTAW regarding the CAFE ratings for EVs. There's no way that Congress, or the EPA, will actually rate EVs based upon the source of electricity. The automakers have no more control over whether someone uses gas or E85 in a flexfuel car than what mix of electricity someone charges their EV or PHEV into. Although there have been some crazy laws enacted over the decades, I sincerely doubt that one type of car will be rated based upon well-to-wheel efficiency while another type will be rated based upon pump-to-wheel efficiency.

        Cars have always been rated upon how far they can go with a given amount of energy input (fuel, electricity, combination thereof, etc.), not their well-to-wheel efficiencies. Cars also have always been rated upon how much pollution they cause directly per unit of energy input. It's only fair, and both sides of the non-ICE people will be happy: FCVs and BEVs will be tied for 1st place because both produce nothing toxic nor warming (nothing from BEVs, and pure H2O from FCVs).

        I, for one, would be shocked if the regulations work out any differently. Particularly since it certainly won't go the other way: where ICE cars are rated based upon their well-to-wheel efficiencies, not just the pump-to-wheel efficiency.
        • 2 Months Ago
        I did not follow some of that and am not sure exactly what it had to do with the article.
        But... to the problem of clubs getting better mileage than large corporations - there are other things to consider.
        Not to down-grade the achievements of any such club or person.
        But, mass producing a car which must carry a warranty and continue to operate within some prescribed condition for years is a different affair than aficionados tinkering with the technology and producing some great results to quote.
        It may be too that they have hit upon some functional thing that the large maker, with all its resources has not.
        An awful lot of modern car technology came originally out of relatively small shop racers experimenting with suspension setups, etc...
      • 2 Months Ago
      I'm of two minds. I have a good friend I visit occasionally who lives about 110 miles away; and closes hub airport is about 115 miles away. That would take a 150 mile battery and a place to recharge.

      But realistically, a 50 mile range would get me to and from the local shopping spots, family homes, and nearest (non-hub) airport easily. I'd just need to have a second car—as most American families have—for the longer trips.

      So a Volt and an electric-conversion replica Porsche Spyder would do very nicely for all my needs.
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