Thursday, August 09, 2012

They see me patrollin'...

IMPD apparently has itself at least one fully-liveried Th!nk City electric car. While I suppose the little podmobile was intended as a Cushman replacement for meter-maiding your way around downtown, I think the department is missing out by not considering broader applications within the fleet.

I mean, given the driving record of the local po-po, this thing has obvious advantages in the liability department; even if you get loaded and blow through a crowded intersection with your foot to the floor, the little electric kart is going to bounce off the first Harley dresser it hits.

(The American market Th!nks were made in Elkhart, IN, starting in 2010, no doubt with heavy injections of stimulus, before things apparently went all Solyndra-shaped. They had three recalls in the first year. Leftovers are apparently still available at the moribund dealership up near 96th and Keystone.)

(Via email.)


DanH said...

So, this thing (or is it th1ng?) is just as expensive as a Chevy Volt, but even smaller.
You know, if it wasn't for the fact they keep telling us different, I might just start to think that ecohippies don't have a clue about how to sell anything. Of course, given their whole aversion to capitalism it's hardly surprising.

Tam said...

Part of the problem for any low-production vehicle like this is going to be an economy-of-scale one.

Modern automobiles, expensive as they are, tend to benefit from massive economies of scale. Everything from cylinder head bolts to headlight switches is cheaper when you buy them in lots of 200,000 or more.

Pile the cost of a novel driveline and power supply on top of that, and you've really got an uphill fight in the pricing department.

Woodman said...

You'd think someone would buy an old Volkswagon Bug plan in Brazil and fire that puppy back up.

With a few tweaks here and there you could easily get 40 mpg out of one. It's possible they could even go multifuel, or try to cram a 100 mile battery in there.

And then the whole thing would collapse under collision safety requirements. Never mind. After putting multiple airbags, crumple zones for the crumple zones, doors made of real metal instead of tin foil I suppose the whole point gets missed.

I'd still buy one for $10k and import it without the safety stuff. None of that stuff in my wife's new beetle convertible is going to save me when Bob in his Ford Earth Fucker GT slams into me at 80 mph.

Drang said...

Woodman: Last I heard, they still make classic bugs in Mexico. Can't sell 'em in the US of A, Uncle Sam says they're dangerous and dirty. Same as Toyota Hi-Luxes (Hi-Luxi?), which Jeremy Clarkson and James May have convinced me could be the best vehicle ever.

I know that a Toyota Hi-Lux can outrun a HMMWV, I was a passenger in a HMMWV that was pulled over for speeding by an MP in a HiLux, the captain driving said she never saw him coming. (I had just arrived in the ROK, hadn't received my license yet.)

Speaking of anemic police vehicles, in the early 80s the Army bought a lot of Aspens or something similar, when the MPs hit the siren or the lights, they lost half their horsepower and about 20 MPH...

Bro. Brandon B. said...

Not sure why but I read IMPD as *IMDB* and spent a few very confused seconds wondering
1.) why the internet movie database is on patrol? and
2.) why is Tam blogging about this?

I get it now.

Tam said...


They sold the Hilux in the US for decades, up through '06, although they cleverly disguised it by calling it the "Toyota Pickup Truck".

The current Tacoma sold in the US has moved over to the 4Runner's unibody platform though, so if you want a midsize body-on-frame Toyota pickup, you'll have to gray-market one in from Europe or South America.

It's not that it's been deemed too dangerous by the government, it's just that Toyota's realized that most folks use small-to-midsize pickups more like cars here in the 'States, hence the move to the 4Runner platform instead of the more agricultural design of its predecessor.

perlhaqr said...

Woodman: yeah, there are lots of vehicles they made 10 - 20 years ago that they'd probably sell the hell out of if they were allowed to sell them, especially with a modernised power plant. The Honda CRX, the Geo Metro, a coupld other cars like that get 45 - 50 mpg, on cars with 20 year old fuel control systems.

20 years of improvement in sensors, cam design, valvetrain management, fuel injectors, etc, I bet you could boost that to 60 or 70 mpg... assuming you didn't have to bolt on 1000 lbs of safety crap, too.

Noah D said...

a modernised power plant. The Honda CRX

Look up 'CRX Acura engine swap'

Oh, want, do want...

Woodman said...

I had a Ford Festiva for about 10 years. That thing could not be killed and reliably got 40 mpg rain or shine, even when the cruise control and aircon still worked.

I put 80k on it in less than two years, and then it sat in a garage for 4 years and then my oldest bought it for the price of a new clutch and tires. Fun little car. Seen lots of videos of people trying to kill them and that damn car just won't quit.

Anyway, I always wanted to win the lottery and make it a Shogun. Taurus SHO engine in the back hatch.

It would crumple like tinfoil in a collision, but damn getting there would be fun.

Has anyone ever looked at upgrading an old design and selling it at rock bottom? Is there any money in that? The Civics in the early 90's were almost perfect.

NotClauswitz said...

Palo Alto cops in the 70's had several Ford Pintos with a roof gummdrop and siren to chase bicycle scofflaws who rode through stop-signs without stopping - who were mainly dastardly Junior High kids leaving school at 3:00PM.

There's a paint-faded blue one down the street around-the-corner from here, the guy collects weird auto-junk but I admired his taste when he had the Dino Ferrari.
Corbin was building the electric Sparrow for a while, saw those pop out of molds down in Hollister when I had my two-up seat made for the Big One.

IMO - They could never have re-introduced the Fiat 500 if it weren't for the bailout and some "flexibility" with the standards since Fiat is a part of the partnership?

Library-Gryffon said...

At least the thing looks a bit more like a car than a Smart Car does. I occasionally see them buzzing along I-95 or I-395, and I can't imagine having the nerve to take one of them out on the road with semis.

My view of Fiat was colored by being driven around Dublin in the early 80s by an Italian in a Fiat 127 (at least it wasn't a 126...). If you weren't religious before the ride, you were by the time you got out of the car. The Italian in question was actually quite a good driver, but he was used to driving in Italy, and about half the the Irish drivers on the road back then had never had a lesson nor had to past a road test to get their licenses. I leave the rest to your imagination.

Will said...


The original Bug is no longer made.
Most produced vehicle in history.

The whole car was a crumple zone, basically. I suspect that the addition of the mandated door rails would bring it up to current specs for crash safety. The only fatality my father could recall from a Bug crash was when a Harley punched through the passenger door and killed the passenger. (he was in the autobody/towing business)

Unfortunately, the air-cooled engine would never pass smog rules, but a new design would have to be used to get better mileage anyway, as that cylinder head design could not be used. Plus, eliminating that valve-dropping design would be required to improve longevity.