March 7, 2008 It's a trend that's been underway for some time, but if you need evidence of the snowballing progress of the alternative powered vehicle market look no further than the array of electric and hybrid cars on show at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. Among them are two offerings from Norwegian auto designer and manufacturer TH!NK - the fully electric five seater crossover concept known as the TH!NK Ox and the new TH!NK city concept, a plug-in electric urban commuter that boasts advanced telematics, a range of over 100 miles and is 95% recyclable.

The TH!NK Ox is a modular platform concept approaching the size of an SUV that's been designed for the European, North American and Asian markets. The Ox can accommodate a variety of different body styles. The MPV version is built for moving people and their luggage with easy entry and exit and optimal storage space while the coupé and sports versions have a larger battery capacity for higher performance. The batteries are positioned centrally placed in two compartments in the lower frame and different configurations are possible using either low cost, high range sodium batteries or flat Li Ion packs. Charging is via a normal power point and takes around 12 hours with the Li Iion battery option enabling charging to 80% capacity in less than an hour using a high power off-board fast charger.

The base model will have a 60kW electrical powertrain achieving 0-100kmh in less than 8.5 seconds and reaching a top speed of 130km/hr. Range for the TH!NK Ox is expected to be around the 200km mark for combined highway and city driving, gaining an extra 250km for city driving only. The planned sports version will go faster and further with an expected range of up to 450km.

The concept also boasts always-on Internet connectivity and GPS capabilities with a personalized key-less entry system that recognizes the user and displays your personal desktop, music and adjusts seating position, mirrors and steering wheel to your preset preferences.

The diminutive two-door TH!NK city also enables a choice of sodium or lithium batteries depending on your driving style. It can silently reach speeds of up to 100kmh and meets both US and EU safety regulations with features such as ABS brakes, airbags and an impact absorbing frame design (including side impact bars in the doors and energy absorbing dashboard and knee padding).

Among the tech highlights of the TH!NK City is the inclusion of "Mind Box" - a small computer containing both GPS and GPRS functionalities which enables some tricky connectivity such as the ability to automatically call for assistance when an airbag is deployed and the transmission of charge status information direct to your mobile phone.

The car itself is also designed to be recycled with plastic bodywork and other plastic panels left unpainted, to reduce toxins and make the panels easier to recycle.

TH!NK and its commercial partner, lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123Systems, have also attracted investment from GE that is aimed at accelerating the commercialization of the technology and bringing vehicles with zero local emissions within the reach of a greater number of consumers.

The company is already delivering its first cars in Norway and the TH!NK City is expected to be launched in other European markets later this year at an estimated price of around EUR 20,000. TH!NK expects to roll-out 10,000 cars per year from its assembly plant outside Oslo from 2009.

Further information os available at the TH!NK site.

View gallery - 8 images