Norwegian carmaker Think Nordic hopes that linking its plastic-bodied, low-speed electric vehicle to car-share programmes at train stations and airports in Europe will help make the car a winner.

Think Nordic of Aurskog, Norway, aims to sell about 5,000 units annually of its Th!nk Public, which is set to debut during the fourth quarter of 2005.

According to Automotive News Europe, the Th!nk Public is the third attempt by Think Nordic to successfully launch a plastic-bodied electric car. The company nearly had to give up on its original electric model in 1999 when it ran out of development cash. Ford Motor Co. stepped in, bought the business and introduced its Th!nk City as part of its overall electric-vehicle strategy at the Detroit auto show in January 2000.

Ford sold about 1,000 units in the US and Europe before halting the project in 2002 when interest in electric-powered vehicles fell in the US. Ford's decision left a second-generation Th!nk City just months from production.

After the Swiss company Kamkorp Microelectronics bought Think Nordic from Ford in 2003, Frazer-Nash Research in Mytchett, England, a unit of Kamkorp, came forward with the concept of a shared car - a car used jointly by drivers who pay for the amount of time they use it.

"This is a unique possibility to show the market and other major players in the field of sustainable transportation our new products and concepts," said Think Nordic managing director Bernd Winkler.

The new car will differ from both the original Th!nk City and the second-generation City that never made it onto the streets.

The two-seat Th!nk City is capable of reaching 84km/h (about 52mph) and can be recharged from a household plug.

The Th!nk Public will be a boxy, four-seat vehicle with a top speed of 50km/h (30mph) and a range of 100km (60 miles).