OSLO, NORWAY --- Electric vehicle manufacturer Think Global announced plans to start production of its Think City electric car in Elkhart County, Indiana, for sale in the North American market.
The Scandinavian EV maker said Jan. 5 that it plans to invest $43.5 million in building improvements and equipment in Elkhart County, and the plant could begin assembling vehicles in early 2011. These investments will support manufacturing capacity for more than 20,000 vehicles a year.
Think has drawn government support, including local and Indiana state tax incentives and job training funds totaling $17 million, the company told the Wall Street Journal.
The Think City is an all-electric car that can travel at highway speeds for more than 100 miles on a single charge with zero local emissions. The car has two front seats for adults and two child seats in the back. The car is expected to be priced at about $30,000 in the U.S. after a $7,500 federal tax credit, the company told the Wall Street Journal. The Think City is larger than a Smart Car but slightly smaller than the Mini.
Think started delivering the latest generation of its Think City model to European customers last month. 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 key EV markets such as Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.
"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," said Think CEO Richard Canny. "Now it's 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 EVs 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-percent equity stakeholder in Think.
In addition to incentives provided by the state of Indiana and Elkhart County, Think plans to use funding from the U.S. Department of Energy ATVM loan program to establish its new production facility.