Th!nk hopes to crack US market

Th!nk has been around for about 17 years now, producing small electric vehicles from its Norwegian plant, and now the company wants to manufacturer its EVs in the United States.
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Before it gets too carried away, Th!nk must first emerge from the Norwegian version of Chapter 11 bankruptcy it is under, then restart local production.

Ford owned Th!nk from 1999-2003 and poured about $100 million into the operation. Slow sales (400 cars) and Ford's mounting financial problems prompted it to sell the company.

Now Th!nk has a revamped electric car, a coupe slightly bigger than a smart car that uses lithium ion batteries and runs about 190km on a single charge. Best of all it could be sold in the US for roughly US$20,000 after tax incentives and rebates, making it appealing to consumers.

Unfortunately the timing of a decent, saleable product in to the US market could not have been worse with Th!nk CEO Richard Canny admitting the company now needs to secure additional funding.

Since 2003, Th!nk has spent about US$120 million upgrading its car, the Th!nk City, which uses trim and electrical parts from Ford and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, and although a rough;y $6 million investment from General Electric has assisted the venture, the company needs to secure further financing before it can successfully launch in to the US.

"We would consider a partner. We would be looking for retail distribution partnerships with some of the more established players here (in the US)," Mr Canny said. "Consumers won't accept too many compromises in an electric car."

In the current depressed US car manufacturing sector a new player could mean a very welcome 900 jobs.

We'll keep you posted on Th!nk's progress.