Song of Norway

SONG OF NORWAY….I don’t drive very much, and when I do it’s mostly quick trips around town. With rare exceptions, a round trip to LA — about a hundred miles — is the longest distance I travel.

So I’m sort of smitten by the idea of an electric car, and in the LA Times this morning auto reviewer Dan Neil sings the praises of the City, an electric car from a Norwegian company called Think. It gets 112 miles on a charge, meets all relevant safety standards, drives nicely, and might be on sale in Southern California in 2009. As usual with these things, though, he saves the bad news for last:

In any electric car program, the crucial component is the battery. Think has settled on three suppliers: MES-DEA, which produces a molten sodium battery, and A123Systems and EnerDel, which produce varieties of lithium-ion batteries. The MES-DEA battery yields 28 kilowatt-hours, while the EnerDel and the A123Systems batteries produce 26 and 19 kWh, respectively. Any of the three are expensive. At current market prices, Think’s City could cost up to $35,000, more than half of that tied up in the battery.

For that reason, Willums proposes to sell the cars for $20,000-$25,000 and lease the batteries to owners, for a $150 to $200 monthly “mobility fee.” All battery maintenance and replacement costs would be covered, and there could be ways to compensate owners for the costs of the electricity to charge the cars.

It could be worse, but 35 grand for a two-seater with a 112-mile range is definitely an early adopter kind of car. On the bright side, at least Dan Neil got a trip to Oslo out of the deal.

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