THINK Announces New Factory in Indiana
By Brendan Moore
THINK, an electric vehicle manufacturer from Norway, has announced plans to build a production facility in Indiana, USA, using a previously-shuttered RV plant as its new US production site.
The state of Indiana is providing some $3 million USD in performance-based tax incentives for the company to produce their cars there. The deal was announced yesterday, with Indiana governor Mitch Daniels participating in the press conference.
The $43.5 million production site will have eventual capacity of 20,000 vehicles annually. Production is scheduled to launch in 2011 and the plant will employ up to 400 people by 2013, according to THINK executives.
THINK has had a rocky existence so far; with its original owner, Pivco Industries, going broke in the late 90’s, and then selling the small company to Ford Motor Company. Under Jac Nasser, Ford had big plans for THINK, but those all came to naught, when gasoline became cheap again in the 00’s, gargantuan SUVs and pickup trucks reigned supreme in the US, and, Nasser was ousted at Ford.
Still, one of my neighbors in San Francisco had a THINK city car that he leased through Ford in a trial program, and occasionally I would see another THINK being piloted through San Francisco during the early part of that decade, so an effort was made; it just didn’t go anywhere.
Ford sold the company, and then it cycled through a few different owners until filing for bankruptcy in 2008, where it functioned, in fits and starts, through 2009.
Although it is a Norwegian company, the cars are made in Finland. The company currently retails cars in Norway, Austria, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
THINK says that the car that will be sold in the US will have more creature comforts then the current car, better crash-test worthiness, a top speed of 70 mph, will travel 100 miles on a single charge, can be charged on household current and will sell for approximately $30,000.
THINK’s official press release:
THINK continues global expansion with announcement of new U.S. assembly facility
THINK announces today plans to start production in Elkhart County, Indiana and the launch of the THINK City into the North American market.
OSLO, Norway, 5 January 2010
The pioneering global manufacturer of electric vehicles plans to begin selling the THINK City, one of the world’s first highway-capable urban EVs, in the U.S. later this year. The company plans to invest $43.5 million in building improvements and equipment in Elkhart County, and the plant could begin assembling vehicles in early 2011.
THINK’s investments in Elkhart County will support manufacturing capacity for more than 20,000 vehicles a year. The company started delivering the latest generation of its THINK City model to customers in Europe last month.
The THINK City is a purpose-built, all-electric car designed for urban environments. It can travel at highway speeds for more than 100 miles on a single charge with zero local emissions. It is the world’s first EV to be granted certification with the European CE conformity mark and EU homologation requirements (M1 certificate). To achieve these exacting standards, the THINK City has been through extensive testing and validation and several hundred computer simulations and correlations.
European production of the THINK City is already underway in Finland with manufacturing partner Valmet Automotive, which also assembles the Porsche Boxster and Cayman models for Porsche AG. Production will continue at Valmet Automotive to support European market demand, where sales have begun in selected key EV markets such as Austria, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.
THINK CEO Richard Canny, said: “We are extremely pleased to announce plans for a second THINK production location today. Things are moving very swiftly for the company in Europe following the start of production in Finland and the subsequent start of sales at the end of last year. Now its time for us to do the same in the North American market – and there’s no better place to start than Indiana.”
He continued: “Indiana is quickly becoming an international leader in advanced, clean technology manufacturing. It’s an industry with a future, and EV’s are right in the center of the convergence of where the auto and energy sectors are heading. We’re proud to be part of this effort to reinvent and reinvest in U.S. auto manufacturing.”
THINK is joining Indianapolis-based lithium-ion battery maker, EnerDel in choosing Indiana for a North American manufacturing location. Ener1, the parent company of Enerdel, is a 31% equity stakeholder in THINK. In addition to incentives provided by the State of Indiana and Elkhart County, THINK plans to utilize funding from the U.S. Department of Energy ATVM loan program to establish its new production facility.
THINK is a pioneer in electric vehicles and a leader in electric vehicle technology, developed and proven over 19 years. It is one of the few companies that has a ‘ready-to-market’ fully electric vehicle – the THINK City. With its market-leading range, driveability and recyclability, the THINK City is the first vehicle of its type to be granted pan-European regulatory safety approval and CE certification.
THINK is also a leader in electric drive-system technology, and was the first to offer a modular and flexible EV drive-train solution in the business-to-business sector. With its Scandinavian origins and sustainability mindset, THINK is one of the most carbon efficient car companies in the world.