Going to Copenhagen, Denmark for the big climate talks this week? Me neither. But I wish I were going, because then I could swan around in the plastic-bodied Think electric car.
COP15 delegates will have access to a fleet of 15 Think City cars at the Bella Centeret conference center through Move About, a Norwegian car-sharing company.
On Dec. 13, as the conference ends, the Thinks will take part in Hopenhagen Live, a parade of alternative-fuel cars and trucks through the city. According to Think CEO Richard Canny in an e-mail to me, “We'll be using the cars to move the delegates around. Many of them have probably never ridden in or seen an electric vehicle. It’s obviously a nice opportunity for us to showcase the technology, but also to do it in a market where EVs are a reality today rather than something that is coming in the future.”
In case the delegates think this is just another international conference (instead of a life-and-death moment of truth), Hopenhagen Live (supported by the U.N.) is there to dissuade them. It’s a 12-day program of live music events, films, art shows and speeches. It will be hard to miss the giant illuminated globe hung over the city’s central square, Radhuspladsen.
Starting today, the rotating globe will light up green when “someone signs up for global climate campaigns.” Messages can be sent in via the Internet or mobile phones.
As a very appreciative visitor to Copenhagen (where I was writing a story about the country’s growing wind industry), I can personally vouch for two other arresting sights: The first is the platoons of bicycle riders, maybe 30 percent of commuters, who pedal to work in the city center. Sixty percent of Copenhageners use a bike on any given day, and 85 percent of residents own one. There’s even a Copenhagen Cycle Chic webpage.
The second sight is the row of 20 Middelgrunden wind towers on the edge of Copenhagen harbor. They’re kind of hard to see from downtown, which definitely runs counter to the idea that wind towers present “viewshed objections.” I had to climb to the top of one the city’s hotel towers to get any kind of clear look at them.
Back to the Think EVs. “With our 15 Think City cars we have the largest EV fleet here in Copenhagen,” said Think Chair Jarle Froshaug, “and we hope that many of the delegates, VIPs and media at COP15 will ‘walk the talk’ and choose to ride with us, emissions-free.”
Think has been through some fairly severe cash-flow problems, and production was shut down for some months. Sales are now underway in all the Scandinavian markets (except Finland and Iceland), as well as Holland, Switzerland and Spain. Chinese sales are definitely in the company’s sights, as are U.S. operations. Think has had discussions with eight states, including Michigan, and has applied for a Department of Energy low-interest loan to help it build a U.S. factory.
Having provided $18 million in equity, U.S. battery maker Ener1 is now a 31 percent stakeholder in the Norwegian company (other investors include Finland’s Valmet Automotive (which will be producing the car going forward, so why aren’t they selling it in Finland?), and Investinor, which is linked to the Norwegian government.