Four Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL) employees are among the first customers in the U.S. to own and drive pure electric cars from THINK™.
Their cars were among 17 THINK City electric cars delivered to utility fleet customers and employees in Indiana. Duke Energy in Plainfield, Ind. received 10 electric THINK City cars, and the remainder were delivered to Indianapolis Power & Light for company fleet use.
“I wanted to be among the first to buy an electric car, because I think it’s the right thing to do,” said IPL employee Brenda Owens. “I don’t like the fact that we are so dependent on imported oil. We need to find a better alternative.” Owens also sees electric cars as a way to help her employer find new markets for electricity.
“I’m spending a lot of time talking to people about electric cars,” she continued. “Usually they want to know how many miles it goes on a gallon [of gas]. They are surprised to find out it does not use any gas and that this technology is here and available today.”
“Electric utilities and their employees are a natural extension of our fleet strategy,” said THINK spokesperson Brendan Prebo. “By targeting electric utilities in the early deployment of EVs, we can help address several important challenges to the successful commercialization of these cars, such as establishing residual values for batteries, the cost of installing infrastructure and understanding the local impact of charging networks on the grid. Electric utilities are impacted by all of these issues, not only as customers, but also as fuel and service providers.”
Establishing residual values for batteries is an important industry issue, because batteries contribute significantly to the overall cost of electric vehicles. When advanced Lithium-ion batteries are no longer fit for automotive use, they still may be able to store 70 - 80 percent of their original energy capacity making them useful for grid applications such as back-up energy storage.
THINK is working with Duke, IPL and the Energy Systems Network (ESN) to collect data on the deployment and use of electric cars as part of Project Plug-IN.
THINK has contracted with Tom Wood Automotive in Indianapolis to support the sale and service of THINK City electric cars in the metropolitan area.
“We are excited to be a part of the future of the auto industry, which represents green, sustainable cutting-edge technology,” said Jeff Wood, CEO of Tom Wood Automotive. “The fact that the cars are built in Indiana and are being sold as part of Project Plug-IN, makes it part of a community effort that we want to support.”
By early 2011, Project Plug-IN will place 100 or more electric vehicles and supporting charging infrastructure with government and corporate fleets, as well as selected individual commuters, across the Indianapolis metropolitan area.
The THINK City model is an all-electric, zero-emission car designed in Scandinavia for fleet applications and urban commuters. Durable, highly maneuverable and with low maintenance, the THINK City can travel 100 miles on a single charge, using advanced Lithium-ion batteries manufactured in Indiana by Ener1, Inc. The vehicle has accumulated more than 35 million road miles in customer experience since it was first safety certified in Europe in 1999. THINK plans to roll out retail distribution in select U.S. cities in the second half of 2011.