September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
O N T O U R: ”THE FASTEST MILKMAN IN THE WEST (END)”.
With Respects To Benny Hill
There is an alternative to Ken Livingstone”s London congestion charges which start today (Monday 17 February) An electric car. You don”t have to pay the ”5 per day fee, and as a special incentive Westminster City Council, controlling much of the zone, have lifted the meter parking charges, currently running at ”4 per hour. Hertz will hire you one from ”35 per day (including VAT and fully comprehensive insurance ” the lack of a petrol fill-up fooled the car hire company”s invoicing system) from their Marble Arch facility. It literally costs (you) nothing to run and there is no argument on its return regarding topping it up. Hertz have them in Edinburgh also. It is an interesting alternative to expensive taxis for the business visitor to London and if you are coming in on the Heathrow Express tell Hertz when you make the booking, call them from the airport as you board the train and they will meet you at nearby Paddington Station. For people who perhaps live and have to use a car in central London it is an interesting alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles.
The Hertz two-seater is called TH!NK and is part of an enterprise by Ford Motor Company to develop, market and deliver a range of environmentally sensitive mobility solutions. Or rather was. With Ford going through difficult times in Europe the whole project has been acquired by Kamkorp Microelectronics Inc, a Swiss-owned company specialising in the development and manufacture of sophisticated electric and hybrid electric drive trains. TH!NK power is provided by a water cooled three phase alternating current induction motor with electricity coming from 19 nickel cadmium batteries placed beneath the floor under a large storage area behind the two occupants. There is room for a suitcase and other bulky items. It is a two pedal automatic with thermoplastic bodywork across an aluminium frame with the latest super mini headlight setup but in a practical sense it is not that much more advanced than Benny Hill”s legendary milk float (the fastest in the west!) or the old London trolley buses. TH!NK has a top speed of 56 mph and a range of 55 miles. You can plug it in just about anywhere and leave it overnight to charge. Westminster provides a list of points where you can ”fill up” your TH!NK.
TH!NK is just under 10 ft long and 5.25 ft wide. No problem with parking this little cutie. The doors are wide and there is a big lift up tail gate. Ford quote an acceleration of 0-30 in seven seconds, which does not sound really cracking, but is good enough to win most traffic light grand prix and cruising along the 40 mph dual carriageways in the suburbs is fine. In any event the car has bags of torque and feels fast and nimble with a reasonable turning circle.
On the negative side all the London hire car TH!NK”s are left hand drive. No problem at all if you are used to the hustle and bustle of city traffic. For the newcomer it is small enough not to worry that you are on the wrong side of the car. The handbook is in Norwegian. The range is OK for daily use in the busy centre of town but watching the power gauge reduce from 100% to not much over 20% can be worrying, particularly if your base is out towards the M25. One has to be prudent with the use of headlights and any other major consumer of electricity such as the windscreen wiper. There are no electric windows and central locking. We would not recommend using the heated front or rear screen either. Power steering is foregone in a bid to keep electricity requirements to a minimum. After all a flat battery could be very embarrassing!
The plus points are that with just brake and throttle pedals it is great fun, a sort of oversized go-kart, lively and yet amazingly quiet compared with a modern car. There is no exhaust to worry about and so the humps and potholes of everyday driving give little cause for concern. The car sits up high on 13 inch wheels.
Whilst unlikely to go into series production in its present form TH!NK represents the motor industry”s latest ideas on environmentally friendly motor transport. Hertz have put 15 out to companies in London for use both as executive cars and delivery vehicles. The real problem is battery life. Once that is overcome the electric car has a future.
POST SCRIPT: In his dim and distant past ABTN”s editor, who then worked for Lotus Cars Ltd, came up with the idea of ”total mobility”, a car (Lotus Elan), aircraft (Piper Warrior) and bicycle (Raleigh collapsible ” which fitted into both). As a marketing ploy it worked very well, the late Colin Chapman at the launch trying his skills on a cycle. Sad to say that in this modern age ”total mobility” with an electric car just does not have the same ring about it. http://www.hertz-europe.com