Think Thunk: Electric Car Maker Goes Bankrupt (Again)

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Assembly of Think City electric cars, Elkhart, Indiana, Jan 2011

Assembly of Think City electric cars, Elkhart, Indiana, Jan 2011

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Making an electric car is a particularly tough business, fraught with financial risk, engineering challenges and tough competition from small-scale and mainstream automakers alike. 

And in that world, some automakers will succeed in bringing electric cars to market, while others flounder at the sidelines. 

The latest victim in the Darwinian fight for survival? Norwegian-based Think Global, makers of the Think City electric car. 

The disclosure that the firm had filed for bankruptcy production in its home country of Norway came from Think’s former shareholder and battery supplier Ener1 Inc. 

Ener1 had previously written off a $73 million stake in Think, but told Investors earlier today that it was taking charge of $32.6 million of unpaid loans and accounts receivable from Think Global. 

With a range of just 100 miles, a top speed of 68 miles per hour and a fairly minimalist interior, the Think City EV hasn’t been selling well against stiff competition from other electric cars. 

That’s not a surprise. Our own John Voelcker voiced his concerns earlier this year that Think was always facing an uphill struggle to sell its plastic-bodied Think City EVs in the U.S., especially when Think’s sticker price before incentives was as much as $41,000. 

Over the past few months we’ve seen Think get pretty creative with its advertising, anthropomorphizing its surplus stock with names and personalities. But even with a name, Think City EVs have been slow to sell, even in states where electric vehicle incentives dramatically lowered the purchase cost.

So is Think dead? The initial prognosis isn’t good, but then Think has survived previous bankruptcies, owners (including Ford) and company restructuring. 

Despite trying, we were unable to reach anyone at Think Global or Think USA for for an official comment on Think Global’s Norwegian bankruptcy filing.

[Indianapolis Business Journal]
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Comments (5)
  1. In the words of the great Wilie Nelson, "Turn out the lights, the party's over" DOA, IMHO.

  2. I am glad I got my fifth generation Think in time. It is great car.

    The US built car sold for $36,500 before incentives. Why confuse that with the early price for the few that were built in Finland? Nobody harps on the early high price of the iMev.

  3. We can assume that Norway will not attempt another
    car company anytime soon. Too much baby-buggy styling and tiny spaces but not tiny price. No reason to grieve over this guy.

  4. This is not unexpected. Starting a car business requireds a lot of experience with the auto industry. Most start-ups fail because all they have is an idea. It takes a strong management team with core competancies in OEM automotive product design and manufacturing. 3 types of knowledge - the things you know you know (90%), the things you know you do not know and will learn (10%), and the things you do not know, you do not know (almost zero.) These last items are the killers. Think never had these core competancies and they failed. Tesla does not have these core competancies and they will fail. Fisker has hired a lot of good experts, but top management does not have these core competacies and I predict they will fail. There are others.

  5. Even in the wildly government subsidized country of Norway (and the US) this company couldn't make it on the backs of the taxpayers. No subsidies for any product or service. No entity is too big to fail. No bailouts. Products/services should stand/fall on their merits(s). No subsidies for anything; oil; pharma, green (including anything that encroaches on the food chain such as grain-based ethanol; which is an atrocious waste of energy (no pun intended) to develop and/or use. Way ta go Aptera!!! Go Volt!!! (When the owners take the Volt back, will they repay the $7,500 'incentive'?) Tesla is next.

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