We've always had a soft spot for Think, the Norwegian electric-car company. From its start in 1991, it set out to build not just battery-powered vehicles, but electric cars that could be used on highways and pass all safety tests in any country.
That sets it apart from the scores of EV companies building low-speed "neighborhood electric vehicles," many of them little more than golf carts with doors, lights, and wipers.
But Think has been through more twists and turns than many companies twice its age. And now, like GM and Chrysler, it has emerged from bankruptcy with new funding (from private investors, not governments) and will resume its plans to sell cars in the US.
Certified in Europe
Its Think City two-seater hatchback, first launched in 2000, has been granted full regulatory approval throughout Europe, and passes all highway safety tests. It provides a range of 100 miles or more, at a top speed of 60 miles per hour.
Think City production in Norway has been halted, and instead it will be built by Valmet in Finland, alongside some distinguished company: not only the 2010 Porsche Boxster and Cayman, but also (soon) the 2010 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid luxury sedan.
US sales by 2011, even a US factory?
Production should resume by the end of 2009, according to Think CEO Richard Canny, and the company will restart its efforts to plan for US sales of the car by 2011. Think hopes to launch pilot and fleet tests of the car next year.
Think is also considering building the City in the US, based partly on a $25 billion US Department of Energy grant program to retool existing plants for production of energy-efficient vehicles. A staff of 12 in Dearborn, Michigan, is now assessing potential factory sites.
Long history, latest investors
Owned from 1999 to 2003 by Ford, Think got caught up in last year's economic collapse, and filed for bankruptcy. Now, it has been recapitalized with $47 million of investment from three new investors.
They include Ener1, Inc. from the USA; Valmet Automotive, from Finland; and Investinor, an investment fund backed by the Norwegian Government. Ener1's subsidiary, EnerDel, will supply lithium-ion cells for the Think's battery pack.
Charmingly, the company actually spells its name with an exclamation point--Th!nk--although in deference to journalists and typographers everywhere, it is usually referred to simply as Think.
The Th!nkCity takes about four hours to charge and offers a driving range of up to 120 miles
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