41 minutes ago
14 May 2011
Back in the EV saddle
For those of you who are on long waiting lists to get an EV from a competitor with less experience in EVs, hear this: It took about 3 days from the time I wired the money to Think in Indiana until the time it arrived at our driveway in NC. Depending on how far you are from Indiana, it might vary. Ours arrived in a covered straight truck and was off-loaded locally to a flat bed.
We have only put about 30 miles on it so far, but it seems a little better than the model I test drove outside of Indianapolis a few weeks ago. I suspect the demo I drove had the software set for a slightly lower top speed according to Euro standards, but ours has a top speed slightly over 70 mph on flat roads.
It is too soon to tell for sure, but my first impression is that the Think is a bit more comfortable than the Mini E which had rather stiff seats. I once drove Grandma from Long Island NY down to central New Jersey in the Mini E and she refused to ride in it again because of the hard seats. (Funny, she is 100% German but all this time in the US must have made her soft.)
Another first impression is that it has better handling, which surprises me. Not that the Mini E was not fun to drive, but it took me weeks of driving over 600 miles per week to feel comfortable with the "twitchy" Mini E steering. I am not a car geek, so I cannot talk about over-steer or whatever. But the Think feels completely comfortable to drive from the get go.
Visibility out the back window is amazing if the car is empty. They say in defensive driving classes that backing up is one of the most dangerous things you can do. I believe it is much less so in the Think. No need at all for a backup camera when unloaded.
Of course the Think has a lot less power than the Mini E, which is fine with me. The Think has adequate power, and I always felt the Mini E had too much. And the built-in Think charger is wimpy, as are the built-in chargers in most of this generation of EVs such as the Leaf and the Volt. But since my commute is down from 600 miles per week to 80 miles, that is not a problem for me.
At low speeds the Think is not as quiet as the Mini E. I believe I hear the vacuum pump and the power steering, which I was told is electrically driven hydraulic. So there is no need for some type of audible warning for pedestrians. (Which I feel is ridiculous anyway, and just an oblique attempt to undermine EVs.)
On the highway, the road noise might be even less than the Mini E while the motor whir is noticeable at 70 mph. But I do not take the freeway much anymore. Years ago I found I preferred to drive back roads instead of the freeway. This happened long before I had a chance to drive on biodiesel, which I did for several years before the Mini E, and very long before I had a chance to get into an EV.
So my first impression is that the Think is pretty close to perfect for my needs. It costs about $4000 less than it would to lease the Smart EV for 4 years, and the Think should easily last 6 times longer than the Smart EV lease.
The rear storage is huge, I will post photos later.
I see a lot of misinformation in the major EV blogs about Ener1 writing off their investment in Think. And a lot of misinformation generally about Think. I may comment on that in detail later, but suffice it to say for now that it makes me wonder if the main stream EV blogs are not really just shills for the major car companies who are trying to get into the EV business and distract from their inexperience and even downright recent animosity towards EVs.
My main attraction to the Think over competitors is domestic content (the battery in made in the US by a US company, which is still supplying Think regardless of changes in the mutual investments), domestic assembly and no rust plastic body panels.
But the overwhelming consideration was immediate availability. I was not willing to wait up to another year for an EV from a less experienced EV maker while paying nearly $4 a gallon for gasoline. What is that new movie called, "Gashole"? That about sums it up.
To be fair, my wife is more skeptical about the Think, due to the motor whir at speed. Well, she also really misses Mini E 458. So do I. But no more pouting when we see Minis on the road. We are back in the EV saddle again!