Thursday, January 29, 2009

Doing some analytical TH!NKing

Let's take a close look at TH!NK and think about what they could do now to turn the ship around. (these puns are getting too much for even me :))

(images courtesy of TH!NK Global)

For those that don't know, TH!NK is a Norwegian car manufacturer that is on their 3rd reorganization through bankruptcy. They make small, thermoplastic-covered electric cars that are battery agnostic (i.e. they use several types) and which utilize a battery lease method (i.e. you buy the car and lease the battery).

(images courtesy of TH!NK Global)

About a month ago, they filed for protection under bankruptcy, and now they are trying to reorganize. What did they do wrong if anything, and what could they do better if they can reorg?

Here are a few thoughts:

They say that they "Sell Mobility"? But perhaps that is not such an important thing to do that when there are so many options for that very same thing at a lesser price with more style. Perhaps they would be better off to "Sell Experience?" If people buy mobility, then they probably buy it for less money than $30K+, but an experience PLUS a product can go for a lot more. And being from Norway they have a lot of cool experieince to sell.

In short, the price is too much for the value. Decrease the price or increase the value. Since the cost is what it is, you may only have one choice. Increase the value.

Nonetheless, there is still a little that you can do with cost. Get rid of the netted car. TH!NK boasts a WiFi enabled partner in this little car? Why? I question how important this is and more importantly how much it costs in pursuing this distraction. Cars are for driving mostly, WiFi is great, but unnecessary in your car especially since you are often alone in your car and when you're in the car your driving.

Create a community, but do it locally. TH!NK has a great idea to produce at the HQ and to assemble locally. They should have gone IKEA on our American folk and we would have eaten it up.

Local, cool, and IKEA like, with a dedicated community following….and a little more affordable because no electronic crap inside. That is worth paying for.

Role these units out in Israel and Denmark and Hawaii and SF, with Project Better Place. Get Facility Ops downpat with that launch and then move out into other areas with or without Better Place. Better Place extends your range. Also starting in Israel and Denmark offers EV tax benefits not available in the States. This externality is seriously good. Get on the ground and make cars. Forget Renault and its plodding megane.

Question will certainly come in homologation and crash safety. With this kind of product, they will certainly need to have volume, with volume they will need federalization, with federalization they need tooling, with tooling they loose flexibility. Hmmm, this is a toughy.

All in all however, I like TH!NK and I wish them well in their endeavour


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