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US to Think for itself

Electric avenue: The Think City electric car will go into production in the US, in Indiana.

Scandinavian electric car-maker to produce Think vehicles in the US too

Th!nk logo19 Jan 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

A MONTH after it recommenced production of its pioneering electric micro-car in Finland, Scandinavian EV maker Think has continued its global expansion by announcing it will also produce the City in the US from early 2011.

Indiana’s Elkhart Country was named as the location of Think’s North American production facility in a joint announcement by Indiana governor Mitch Daniels and the Olso, Norway-based company on January 5.

Think says its $US43.5 million ($A46.9m) investment in building improvements and equipment in the US will create up to 400 jobs by 2013, with stateside production expected to start early next year.

Before then, however, the Think City – which made its US debut at last week’s Detroit motor show and is claimed to be one of the world’s first highway-capable urban EVs – will be launched in the US later this year.

Think says its all-electric City can travel at highway speeds for more than 160km on a single charge, giving it market-leading range, driveability and recyclability.

The City hatchback employs technology developed by Think over 19 years, becoming the world’s first EV to meet European CE certification and EU homologation requirements.

85 center imageWhile the Think City initially will be imported to the US, the Elkhart County assembly plant will have a production capacity of more than 20,000 vehicles a year.

Think joins Indianapolis-based lithium-ion battery maker EnerDel in choosing Indiana for a North American manufacturing location. EnerDel’s parent company Ener1 is a 31 per cent equity stakeholder in Think.

According to Think, in addition to incentives provided by the state of Indiana and Elkhart County, it plans to use funding from the US energy department ATVM loan program to establish its new production facility.

Think CEO Richard Canny said the company’s development was moving swiftly after start of production in Finland and subsequent start of sales at the end of last year.

“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 said.

“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 centre 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 US auto manufacturing.”

As we reported in mid-December, Think last month resumed production of the City at the Finnish assembly plant owned by Valmet Automotive, which also produces the Boxster and Cayman sportscars for Porsche and is Think’s newest shareholder and industrial partner.

Production ceased at the Aurskog plant in Norway in December 2008 after the company hit financial strife.

European production of the City at Uusikaupunki continues after its release in selected markets such as Austria, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden last month, when a backlog of more than 2300 orders began being cleared.

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