A week after we reported on the THINK City the Norwegians announce that the top US cities in which they are going to roll out the THINK City are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. To top things off they are working with AeroVironment, Inc. to develop a fast charging system which loads the car in 15 minutes, and these fifteen minutes give you a 80% charge. That makes long distance travel with the THINK City possible, given that the charging stations are many and placed at the right locations.
In other news, Better Place, the company which is working on creating the infrastructure for your EV with switchable batteries, announced that they secured USD 350m in a series B round, and have now HSBC, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Lazard Asset Management among their investors. That gives Better Place a value of USD 1,25 billion, which should give them the funds to develop and roll out their technology. They aim to have their solution ready for 2011 in Denmark, so we can be sure to see some of that money flow to the country on the Jutland peninsula.
THINK is not a start-up anymore, though it was one in the beginning of the 1990s when the world experienced a similar recession. Their history is fascinating, with USD 150m invested by US car giant Ford during the companies ownership of the Norwegians, struggling after Ford sold them out in 2003, until in 2006 Norwegian Investinor and other investors bought the company. Under new management and with new strategic goals the company is ready to become a major player in the growing electric vehicle market.
Their vision is to provide a better way of moving, which is carbon and carefree. The result of their vision is an electric city car with a Scandinavian design and modern technology under the hood. The THINK City is manufactured in Finland by Valmet Automotive, who is also a shareholder and strategic partner. It seems the Finns are establishing themselves slowly but surely as a major player in the EV manufacturing segment, a very smart decision. But back to THINK.
Cleantech venture investment continued its recovery in Q3 of 2009 according to preliminary results from the Cleantech Group. Following a rebound in Q209, the Q309 total is up a further 10 percent compared to the previous quarter but down 42 percent compared to Q3 of 2008 (press release).
The global stimulus money flowing into cleantech also boosted private investment in the sector. The cleantech investments in North America, Europe, China and India totalled $1.59b in Q309. Cleantech is now the largest category for venture capital investment, eclipsing biotech and IT. According to the Cleantech Group, the sector already accounted for 27 percent of venture capital in the second quarter this year (see the graph above). Here is a link to the release.
The revolution on transportation industry starts speeding up also in Finland and other Nordic countries. Electricity, if produced by renewable energy (like wind, solar, hydro or nuclear power), could provide the needed low emission power source for transportation industry.
Earlier this summer, Swedish Volvo and state-owned Vattenfall launched a joint venture for plug-in hybrids to market by 2012: the target is to develop a hybrid car for households which could be charged from a common household electric outlet in about five hours ( a press release). On May, City of Copenhagen and Better Place launched a plan to build up an electric vehicle pilot project with electric-car reharging infrastructure (with battery-switching stations) in Copenhagen Region (a press release). US based Better Place has been partnered globally with Renault-Nissan and will create a battery-switching station network allowing drivers to charge with five minutes.