Think Quietly Sets Price of City Electric Car at $41,695 (Update)

By · March 25, 2011

Think City in Berkeley

Think City in my driveway. The cost to put one in your driveway is now set at $41,695, before incentives.

(Update 3/25/11): Think informed PluginCars.com this morning that the $41,695 price is for the first 100 units sold, based on low-volume production. The actual price at retail launch has not yet been set, but $34,000 is the “target.” For buyers in Indianapolis, the current transaction price for the vehicle is $30,050.65, which includes state sales tax and available state rebates, but not the federal tax credit.

In November, I received word from Think’s top marketing executive that the price of the Think City two-seat electric car was “just below $34,000 before incentives.” That’s why my jaw dropped yesterday when I learned from Greg Artisan—a three-year Think veteran with responsibilities for sales, service and execution—that the official price was quietly announced late last year at $41,695.

How did I miss that?

I spoke with Greg when he dropped off a Think City loaner for a road review. I’ve only had a few minutes with the car, but so far it’s been an absolute blast to drive. Expect a full report soon. But the jump from what already appeared to be a hefty price for the fun and funky small two-seater raises questions about the market potential for Think City.

The bump in price is almost identical to the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars. Is that a coincidence? The tax credit would have lowered the price to a more reasonable range in the mid-$20,000—maybe a palatable figure for an urban solo-driving commuter wanting a fun ride and trying to avoid unpredictable gas prices. At $34,000 after the incentive, it’s another matter.

Nonetheless, Greg informed me that Think has already sold about 100 of the models produced at the company’s Elkhart, Ind. facility. In fact, the first delivery in late 2010 beat out the Nissan LEAF as the first EV sale in this era, according to Greg. The vast majority of the sales have been to fleets and corporate accounts—matching European sales, 80 percent of which have been to fleets.

If the price doesn’t put you off, the Think City is on sale now to individuals at Tom Wood Auto group, a large dealership firm based in Indianapolis.

The new higher price for the Think City is not out-of-line with the lofty price tag of the similarly-sized Smart ED (Electric Drive) which is currently only available for lease at $599 per month, with a $2,500 down payment. Final pricing has not been announced for the Mitsubishi i—another all-electric city car, although a four-seater. How will these models compete with more spacious and practical electric cars from Nissan and Ford? Of course, Daimler will only make about 500 units of the 2011 Smart ED, and Think is aiming to sell fewer than 3,000 units in its first year.

By the way, Greg also told me that Michael Lock—the Think chief marketing officer who shared pricing info with me in November—is “no longer with the company.”

Comments

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

When they start selling EV's in the $20K range then I'll start looking for one.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

With the 2008-2009 US median household imcome at $50K, the average household can afford about $7500 for transportation, about $625 per month.
Just to buy this car the purchaser would have to have saved for 4.5 years, not counting for current transportatoin costs or loan payments,maintenance, etc. Not realistic for most people, but great if you have that much cash sitting around.

· · 3 years ago

The LEAF really is a bargain by comparison. This makes me wonder if the Focus EV is also going to end up priced significantly higher than the LEAF...

· · 3 years ago

I was contacted by a Th!nk representative today, because I had met them and expressed interest previously. Remember, these are assembled in Indiana with Indiana made batteries. Anyway, there is a local program called "Project Plug In" that is offering the first 100 Th!nk vehicles at a discounted price (only in IN.) I was offered a new Th!nk for ~$30k before the federal tax credit. My bottom line would be ~$23k. Honestly, if I could live with a two seater vehicle, I'd jump on it. As it is, I take two girls to school every morning, so this isn't even a possibility for me.

We talked a lot about the cost of production, availability, MSRP, etc, and we were pretty much in agreement that they are going to have a very tough sell at their MSRP. Again, he and I pretty much agreed that they could sell (and would be worth) ~$20-25k. He also stated that they have lowered their MSRP to $36k. Either way, 41 or 36, I think they are WAY over priced and I just can't see them being successful unless they can get their costs down considerably. Which is a shame, because I would love to see ALL the EVs be successful!

· · 3 years ago

"Think is aiming to sell fewer than 3,000 units in its first year"

At the same price of a new volt, I would expect he might want to take a zero off that estimate. Looks like it could be a nice city car, but at that price, it's just not competitive. Why would anyone(even fleets & corp accts) want to buy one when they could buy a LEAF for $7,000 less?

· · 3 years ago

Well, in the short term, they CAN'T buy a Leaf. But once (if?) Nissan and Ford actually start having Leafs and Focusi available, then forget it.

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 3 years ago

Tom, youre falling into the standard trap.

Why buy a lexus when you can buy a kia for 20,000 less?

No a valid comparison.

A large volt is NOT comparable with this small car. Compare the apples, a Smart, an iQ and this. Mind you, all of them are too expensive for the mass market, but someone looking for a small city ev has that to chose from. The volt doesnt fit that description.

· · 3 years ago

The question for me is if the entire segment of small EVs stands a chance--when they have less functionality, features and quality than slightly bigger cars offered at a better price. I think that's Tom's point. I can love this car for what it is, but at a certain point, price does matter--especially vis a vis the price of cars in similar segments.

· · 3 years ago

I've a feeling when Ford announces Focus EV prices, a lot of people will be disappointed. But those who want to lease, can have it for $349.

BTW, I won't be surprised if Nissan raises the price for MY2012 - given the state of $.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 3 years ago

Nissan Leaf gives you 4 doors and a back seat.
That's my pick.
The City might be good for parking control cops.

· · 3 years ago

JJJJJJ: Why would anyone buy this over a LEAF? Maybe you don't need or even want decent back seats and extra cargo space, but it's $7,000 less and backed by a company that you know will still be in business when it breaks down.
If it were the other way around and it was $7,000 less then there's the carrot. The US isn't Europe where tiny micro-cars are needed for inner city driving (and parking). A car the size of a LEAF will do just as fine in any congested city as the Think will. I have a MINI-E which isn't much bigger than the Think and it really isn't any easier to drive around the streets on NYC than some of the small cars that are the size of a LEAF are.

As for "Why buy a lexus when you can buy a kia for 20,000 less?" that really makes no sense in a comparison here. The better, more complete car is actually cheaper in this case, and it's a lot cheaper.

As Brad pointed out, If Think has any chance of succeeding they have to cost less if they offer less. This car is DOA if it's going to sell for $41,700.

· · 3 years ago

JJJJJJ: Why would anyone buy this over a LEAF? Maybe you don't need or even want decent back seats and extra cargo space, but it's $7,000 less and backed by a company that you know will still be in business when it breaks down.
If it were the other way around and it was $7,000 less then there's the carrot. The US isn't Europe where tiny micro-cars are needed for inner city driving (and parking). A car the size of a LEAF will do just as fine in any congested city as the Think will. I have a MINI-E which isn't much bigger than the Think and it really isn't any easier to drive around the streets on NYC than some of the small cars that are the size of a LEAF are.

As for "Why buy a lexus when you can buy a kia for 20,000 less?" that really makes no sense in a comparison here. The better, more complete car is actually cheaper in this case, and it's a lot cheaper.

As Brad pointed out, If Think has any chance of succeeding they have to cost less if they offer less. This car is DOA if it's going to sell for $41,700.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 3 years ago

They can sell it to the government; they love paying the highest price :-)

· Dave K. (not verified) · 3 years ago

Here's my 2 cents, a good commuter EV is worth about $35K even without the tax credits. The lower operating costs should save you the difference over the life of the car. This is not including the environmental and Nat. security benefits which average Joe may or may not give a hoot about. With the tax credits this makes the Think a break even proposition but like you said who would pay more for it than a Leaf? The Volt should command a small premium since it can be your only car but I think it's still a little overpriced, I drive a PHEV Prius and of course I would rather drive a Volt but it costs twice as much! (since I started with a car I already had)

· · 3 years ago

My biggest issue with the price of the Th!nk, and what I discussed with them, is WHY does it cost so much? I understand economies of scale quite well, but this car truly is a glorified golf cart. There is nothing special or interesting about the technology or instrumentation. It has an off the shelf stereo thrown in the dash. You can't even get the cool sliding ragtop in the US as of now. So for a plastic car a bit bigger than a golf cart, how can it possibly cost as much as it apparently does to manufacture?

· · 3 years ago

So how is this green? This little car isn't going to be purchased by the wealthy or the poor but predominantly by the commuting middle class. When someone is strapped for cash, they cut back on expenses by buying cheaper products. In these days cheaper products mean cheaper manufacturing practices which usually means less environmental and health concerns. Sure, early adopters won't be spending money at the pump. It will be going to the bank that owns their title instead.

Here's a chance for an automotive company to really shine as the honorable EV hero by setting a trend forbidding price gauging and being truly globally green.

· · 3 years ago

It competes with the 2011 Wheego Whip LiFe which is priced at $33K. But neither vehicle can compete with the Nissan LEAF. Nissan is a superior brand, LEAF has a back seat, LEAF has NAV and all the goodies, prices at $34K, dealership infrastructure for service, etc.

· · 3 years ago

Update on Think Price:

Think informed PluginCars.com this morning that the $41,695 price is for the first 100 units sold, based on low-volume production. The actual price at retail launch has not yet been set, but $34,000 is the “target.” For buyers in Indianapolis, the current transaction price for the vehicle is $30,050.65, which includes state sales tax and available state rebates, but not the federal tax credit.

In an email, Brenda Prebo from Think said: "We are doing everything we can to bring the cost of the vehicle down for consumers, because we realize that in order to succeed, EVs still have to be competitive in the marketplace."

· · 3 years ago

That's more like it. Making it cheaper than the LEAF would of course be better!

· · 3 years ago

I love the Think. But... yeah. You won't see one in my driveway for $40k. Or even $30k. All the power to them if they can get those prices though! A $40k think will sure make the Tesla S seem like a screamin' deal, eh?

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 3 years ago

"The US isn't Europe where tiny micro-cars are needed for inner city driving (and parking)"

It's clear that you don't live in the dozens of US cities that resemble Milan more than Phoenix.

When your only parking option is the street, and it's first come first serve, then yes, having a car thats 1 foot shorter can mean the difference between parking on your block or 4 blocks away.

Obviously this car isnt for you. But for those who live in Boston, Philly, New York, Providence, Baltimore, Chicago, DC, San Francisco, etc etc size matters.

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 3 years ago

Also, Im talking about residential streets, not metered parking where the spaces are predefined.

· Jim McL (not verified) · 3 years ago

So the MSRP is $34,000 which is slightly over the Leaf. Think has built 10,000 electric cars over the last 20 years and knows how to accurately display range remaining, which Nissan has not figured out yet. Big bullet for me, Think has a 6 kW charge rate, no? I strongly prefer plastic body panels, I would never buy another steel panel car if I can avoid it. And oh yeah, no thermal management of the Leaf battery pack. Plus I have never seen a Japanese car that I thought was well engineered. Maybe well manufactured, but never well engineered.

Yep, I would buy a Think over a Leaf. Actually I would never buy any electric car that only had a 3 kW charge rate. (What is the word, impotent?)

I don't see anything on Tom Wood's web site, I will have to call them.

I still remember the first time I saw Think in the news 20 years ago. Saw my first Think on the pavement 10 years ago. It is time to drive one.

Oh, one last thing. Engineered in Norway. How do you think the Think will do in the cold?

· jim McL (not verified) · 3 years ago

I take it back, the Think charger is 3.6 kw. Lame

· · 3 years ago

JJJJJJ: Actually I do drive and park in one, New York. I have also driven and had to park in Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, Belfast, Seville and Lisbon. There is no comparison to driving and parking on the tiny cobblestone streets in Europe. I park in New York all the time and the difference between parking my MINI (which is only a bit longer than the Think) and my old civic sedan(which is comparable to the LEAF) is really negligible. Very rarely do I encounter an space that the MINI fits in that the Leaf wouldn't. Remember on the side streets your pulling into a parking space that someone recently pulled out of so most spaces are big enough to fit the average size car.

You can choose to drive a micro car and there's certainly nothing wrong with it, but here in the states, even in the biggest cities, it's really not an advantage over a car the size of the LEAF.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 3 years ago

In my city they got rid of parking meters and lines.
You can park anywhere the signs say it's ok,
then you have to go to a box, drop money in it and go get a ticket
to display in the windshield.

· JRP3 (not verified) · 3 years ago

Obviously this can't succeed when in the same price range of the LEAF. However I like to point out that the average purchase price of a car in the US for 2009 was over $28K. Anyone expecting a decent EV to cost $20K is going to have a looooong wait.

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 3 years ago

Tom, sometimes someone in an SUV is an idiot and tries to park so that no one can bump them.

A smart would fit in a spot like this, a volt would not.
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=02215&aq=&sl...

· · 3 years ago

I need to grab dimensions for these cars, but I'll tell you that based on my experience in the Think the past few days, parking spots magically appear out of nowhere. It's so much easier to park than my Civic Hybrid, which is a compact. No comparison. I'm squeezing in all over the place. I love it.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 3 years ago

You can park it in your shed and convert the garage to a big living room :-)

· · 3 years ago

Where can I find info on how the Think and the other small cars like the Smart and the Wheego compare with the Leaf on efficiency? If driving a small 2-seater saved a significant amount of electricity over the Leaf, then I would choose the smaller car. But I haven't seen much discussion of efficiency or mileage comparisons.

· · 3 years ago

@kcave - I'm working on this info now. It's too early to say for sure, but I don't think there will be big reductions in watts-per-mile for the two-seater EVs compared to slightly larger ones, like the LEAF. As I do the research, it would be good to know what matters to you. Is it the relative cost of the electricity or the CO2 cost? The efficiency gains of going from gas to electric are significant, which might make the differences between a Think and a LEAF seem a lot smaller.

· · 3 years ago

Thanks. I'm focused mainly on minimizing CO2, although of course I want to save as much as possible on electrical costs. Even if the electricity comes from solar panels or wind turbines, any electricity that doesn't go into the car battery can be used somewhere else, so I think it would be valuable to take a close look at watts-per-mile comparisons.

· ironranger (not verified) · 3 years ago

I bought a THINK City last month with the project plug in deal........the cost to me after all tax credits including the federal one is.....$15,450...........I am putting 200+ miles a week on the little car......love driving it, especially by gas stations! LOL

· · 3 years ago

@ironranger,
Its great to have you aboard here.
For full disclosure, I generally voice opinions against the THINK City and other minimal transportation vehicles but hopefully, if they are allowed on the street, I hope they really do fill a need and reduce our oil consumption if only a little bit.
Do you expect to get over 200 miles per week all the time or is this week an exception for you?
Is it replacing gasoline miles you were driving before?
How is its performance? Are you able to keep up with traffic or do people have to go out of their way to get around it.
These questions sort of bracket my concerns for these cars because they don't fit into a traditional gasoline car market so I'm concerned that they really don't solve a problem and could create bad conceptions.

· · 3 years ago

This EV seems to be much more than a golf cart but not quite a "regular car":

Top speed: 68 mph (110 kph)
Acceleration: 0-50 mph 16 seconds
Nominal range: 100 miles (160 km, ECE R101*)
Battery: 23 kWh Li-ion or 24 kWh Zebra sodium
Motor: 34 kW
Weight: 2284 lb (1038 kg) (not sure if that's for the four seater though)
http://www.thinkev.com/The-THINK-City/Specifications/Technical-data

Tough sell at $34K methinks.

* For info on the ECE R101 mileage test cycle see page six of this document:
http://www.ephc.gov.au/ltec/pdfs/ADR_81_01_Discussion_Paper.pdf
or look at the full regs:
http://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs101-120.html

· · 3 years ago

Every EV mile that displaces an ICE mile is only a win if that EV doesn't scare or otherwise dissuade other ICE drivers from switching.

· Larry, Richmond VA (not verified) · 3 years ago

If gas hits $6, which is not inconceivable, we could be talking 20-25 cents in fuel costs per mile even for a compact, vs. about 2-3 cents for the Think. So, taking the long view, you could save an astonishing $20,000 in fuel costs over a 100,000 mile lifespan of the car, making $34,000 quite a reasonable investment. Besides, people aren't necessarily rational about cars. Look at all the folks who pay $40,000 for a 3-ton monster SUV to commute to work in, plus maybe $2500 a year to fuel it. If you just want to make a statement, buying a Think is a much cheaper way to do it, even at $41k. But, what I'd really like to know is how much of that is for the battery.

· Jim McL (not verified) · 3 years ago

The new US web site for the Think EV just went on line this week:
http://www.thinkev-usa.com/
Very nice, all the manuals posted, 20+ cars available today by VIN and battery serial number.
All state incentives listed, $17,995 including delivery to Oregon, $19,995 to California and Indiana. Some 21 states listed.

ironranger, what is the breakdown on the incentives you got? Tim Hylen told me the Project Plug In incentives in Indiana bring the total price to $19,995, just like the web site says. You claim $15,450?

Long time Think drivers in Norway tell me this is the most reliable car they have ever had. Construction appeared very robust. I saw one that was crash tested, very impressive. Passenger cell untouched.

Performance is similar to the Smart ED, adequate. But over a cubic yard of storage and much more range. I would call the regen weak.

· Adam (not verified) · 3 years ago

We have been looking pretty closely at the Think. They sell it as $20K after rebates, etc, but the @7,500 tax credit seem to be limited by how much you owe in taxes. If you owe $2,500 at tax time, you can get $2,500 back. The sales person said that, but I still can't believe it. Add about 3 grand in taxes. Because tax rebates come later, our cost at purchase time is around $30,000. $30,000 feels a lot different than $20,000 for a limited use/capacity car.

Another big point on cost is that, even with rebates, etc, you are buying a $35,000 car, so costs for insurance, taxes, plates are based on that price, not your after incentives cost..

I see they are selling a 4 seater in Europe. Bring that one here and see how it sells.

The car drives like any other car. You forget you are in an electric car very quickly. The only thing that is different is all the looks you get from other drivers.

There seems be no question that it is a good car. Cost is really the only issue.

· · 3 years ago

@Adam, "...but the @7,500 tax credit seem to be limited by how much you owe in taxes. If you owe $2,500 at tax time, you can get $2,500 back. The sales person said that, but I still can't believe it."

Yes, that's how it works, so far as I can tell. There is a proposal before Congress to change the tax credit to a rebate received by the dealer at the time of purchase. It seems hard to imagine such a thing passing, given the frenzy over budget cutting, but it does have some bipartisan support. This issue has been discussed here:
http://www.plugincars.com/much-needed-electric-vehicle-tax-credit-reform...
http://www.plugincars.com/lahood-visits-nissan-battery-facility-says-tax...
You might want to write your congressional representatives and ask them to support the change.

To take full advantage of the current tax credit you would need to boost your income (to about $55K for a single person, more for couples). One way I've come up with to do that is to covert money from a regular IRA to a Roth IRA.

However, if you were to lease the car I believe that the dealer can take the tax credit and apply it to the lease price. The downside of leasing is that at the end of the lease period you've spent a lot of money and own nothing. An upside is that by the end of the leasing period the variety and capability of EVs on the market should be much greater than they are today.

· · 3 years ago

@Adam (not verified) · "If you owe $2,500 at tax time, you can get $2,500 back."

Just to be clear it is the total federal tax you owe that year ... including any prepayments, monthly tax payments etc.

· ironranger (not verified) · 3 years ago

sorry to take so long to respond. Yes I paid $15,410 after all rebates. Those that bought before the public could got an extra credit from THINK...not to mention a free 240kv charger installed in my garage. I took delivery towards the end of March, it is now July 2nd, I have 4000 miles on my THINK with ZERO problems. A/C works great! I normally drive a Toyota sequioa.....So I am saving enough gas to make the payment on the THINK.....I drive it 70 miles an hour about 20% of the time.......Don't care that they went bankrupt....Always wanted an electric car that I could afford....now I have one......almost forgot, the company I work for is putting in 240kv chargers for us....there are 11 THINK owners where I work......... If you see a red THINK city running around Indianapolis with a sharkfin for an antenna....its me....give a honk!

· Sandy (not verified) · 2 years ago

"The bump in price is almost identical to the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars." Will businesses who purchase this vehicle equally be eligible for corporate tax credits? Many companies are going to these especially those with a sales force out on the road 40+ hours a week. I personally love that it's made in Indiana (and the United States).

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

Brad how much horsepower (and how does that convert into watts) does it take for one of these cars or say a nissan leaf to travel at a steady 50 mph ? could you take along a small honda generator in the trunk and actually plug the generator into the car and drive the car in a slow limp home mode?thanks

· · 2 years ago

@anonymous,
A Leaf averages about 15 kW (21 hp) to travel at 65 mph. This means you'd only need about a 23 hp generator would enable nearly full normal performance. 50 mph could be done with a smaller generator.
The only problem is that the Leaf is not configured to charge while driving and would require quite a bit of hacking to make it do so.
Good idea though.

· · 2 years ago

@ Anonymous - If you're going to drag along the generator everywhere you go, you could do the same thing far more elegantly in a Volt!

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

ex thanks for the info. so ex if an electric vehicle says it has a 15kW battery pack does that mean it delivers 15 kW for 1 hour to a car traveling 65 mph would run down in one hour?

· · 2 years ago

@ anonymous - A battery pack will be rated in kW hours, not kW. The motor is rated in kW. A 15 kWh pack will, in a perfect world, be able to deliver 15 kW for an hour. or 7.5 kW for two hours, etc. So if you'll allow me to answer for Ex... sort of yes.

· · 2 years ago

Thanks darelldd,
Isn't that what is great about physics. The answer is right no matter who does the math! If you expend 1 kW (kiloWatt) of power for 1 hour, you'll have used 1 kWhr of energy. Its really pretty simple. If you are used to thinking in terms of engine power in Horsepower, 1 Hp is about 0.746 kW.
I, however, like the idea of being able to tow a generator on a trailer or hitch rack to enable longer miles from the Leaf on those rare occasions when it is needed.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

34k fot a Plastic Ford?I will keep buying my BMW's. No thanks!

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