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Battery Maker Think Gets New Start

Bankrupt brand finds new owner.

by on Jul.25, 2011

Think will be reborn as Electric Mobility Solutions.

Bankrupt battery car maker Think Global could get a second – make that fourth – chance, a Russian investor getting court approval to re-launch the brand, which went belly-up last month.

The new owners plan to rename the long-troubled company Electric Mobility Solutions AS but will continue to operate it out of Norway – with subsidiaries in both the U.S. and United Kingdom.  Those operations continued even while the Norwegian parent faced the possibility of a court-ordered break-up.

“Having achieved the position of one of the world’s most highly regarded electric vehicle products, the THINK brand is a valuable asset that deserves to continue its key role in the global shift to electrification,” Russian investor Boris Zingarevich said in a statement.

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“With the potential of working with the leading American automotive lithium-ion battery maker and Europe’s top automobile engineering and manufacturing company, I believe we could have exactly the right combination and value chain to ensure that the brand will be increasingly competitive in the worldwide electric vehicle market,” he added.

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Think Files for Bankruptcy – Again

Maker hoping to survive latest setback.

by on Jun.23, 2011

The Think City has fallen short of sales goals.

This is an updated version of the story that first appeared on TheDetroitBureau.com on 6/22/11

Long-struggling electric vehicle maker Think Global has filed for bankruptcy – again – following the breakdown of its relationship with U.S. battery maker Ener1.

The Norwegian-based automaker had been hoping to turn its fortunes around with the launch of a new version of its little Think City battery car.  It is unclear whether the latest setback will end the company’s quixotic quest to be a major player in the global electric vehicle industry — but initial indications suggest it will be difficult to pull through the current crisis, which marks its third time in receivership in just a decade.

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The latest setback resulted from Ener1’s decision to sever its four-year relationship with Think, for whom it served as both supplier of lithium-ion batteries and a key investor following the automaker’s emergence from its previous bankruptcy.  But Ener1 management determined their investment was “impaired,” and sought to find a way to recover as much as possible, it appears.

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THINK to Open EV Assembly Plant in Indiana

First battery cars to roll out in early 2011.

by on Jan.05, 2010

Think will launch production of the U.S. version of its City commuter car in early 2011.

Think will launch production of its City commuter car at a new U.S. plant in early 2011.

The small battery car maker, THINK, is heading back to the U.S., and this time, it plans to produce its electric vehicles at an all-new plant going up in Elkhart, Indiana.

THINK, which emerged from bankruptcy protection last year, plans to invest $43 million in the Midwest facility, and hopes to start production of its urban commuter car, the THINK City, during the first quarter of 2011.  When the facility reaches full capacity, in 2013, the maker hopes to be turning out as many as 20,000 battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, annually.

The schedule is “pretty aggressive,” acknowledged THINK CEO Richard Canny, during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, “but the modular construction of the vehicle lets us get production up and running pretty quickly.  We’ll hit 70% local content by 2013,” he added, suggesting, “it will be local content equal to or higher than many of the Big Three models.”

Founded in Norway, THINK has ridden the proverbial roller-coaster during its two-decade existence.  It was purchased by Ford Motor Company, a decade ago, then sold off as part of the U.S. maker’s back-to-basics strategy.  That led it to abandon the U.S. market, in 2002.  Financial woes forced it into Chapter 11, but with rising industry interest in battery power, new investors came to the rescue last year.  That includes Ener1, Inc., which now owns a 31% stake in the BEV maker.

Ener1’s Indianapolis-based subsidiary, EnerDel, will now provide the new lithium-ion, or LIon, batteries for the THINK City.  That will allow the maker to boost range for the U.S. model to 100 miles, and increase the BEV’s top speed to at least 70 mph.  An imported version of the City will go on sale this year, before the Indiana plant gets up-and-running.

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Initially, Canny said the U.S. version of the THINK City will go for around $30,000, after factoring in a $7,500 federal tax credit.  But he told TheDetroitBureau that his battery costs are expected to drop by at least 7% annually, while other efficiencies will help reduce the cost of the City by 3 to 4%.  The goal, by mid-decade, would be to bring the price of the THINK City down, he said, to “the low-$20,000 range.”

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