The creators of Norway's plastic-bodied Th!nk electric car nearly had to give up on it in 1999 when they ran out of development cash.
Ford Motor Co. stepped in, bought the business and brought the little car to life. Less than three years later, though, Ford abandoned the project, leaving a second-generation Th!nk just months from production.
But Th!nk has outlived its latest death notice. Think Nordic AS of Aurskog, Norway, which makes the Th!nk, is preparing to introduce a plastic-bodied car by the end of next year. Think Nordic now is part of Swiss company Kamkorp Microelectronics Inc., which bought it from Ford in 2003.
"We're still very much alive," said Michael Eimstad, Think Nordic marketing coordinator, in a telephone interview this month.
The Th!nk Public, set to debut in the fourth quarter of 2005, will differ from both the original Th!nk City and the second-generation City that never made it onto the streets. Think Nordic is creating a four-passenger, low-speed electric vehicle intended for car-share programs at train stations and airports in Europe.
The Th!nk City was a two-seat car capable of reaching minimum highway speeds and recharged from a household plug.
"The next-generation Th!nk City would have been too expensive, by our thinking, to make a sustainable business case. But we had an opportunity present itself for the shared car," Eimstad said. "We made changes."