EV Maker Think Files for Bankruptcy

The maker of one of the electric vehicles anticipated for launch in North America later this year filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday in its home market of Norway.

This is the fourth time in its 20-year history Think Global AS has run out of sufficient operating capital.

“We needed some additional funding and although we had interested investors they were not able to come to the table quickly enough,” Think spokesman James Andrew told Automotive News Europe.

The bad financial news follows the announcement early May by Ener1, the supplier of Think’s prismatic battery cells, that it was severing relations with Think.

Yesterday Edmunds reported Manhattan-based Ener1 declared in a government filing that Think owes it $35.4 million, and suggested Think would be liquidating its assets.

Ener1 also told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it was not holding out hope for recovering the full debt, and “this amount is subject to change to the extent that we receive any recovery as a result of the liquidation of Think Global,” Ener1 said, “we presently believe that any such recovery, to the extent it occurs at all, is not likely to be significant.”

Think’s spokesman declined to tell Automotive News Europe how much cash the company needed to stay afloat.

One car

Think’s single electric vehicle, the City minicar, sold just 1,043 units in 2010 in Europe, and production has been stopped since March this year.

At the time the reason given for stopping assembly at its factory run by a contract manufacturer and Think investor Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki, Finland, was to re-balance its inventory.

Former U.S. plans

Think’s minimalist, plastic-skinned EV was due in North America sometime later this year.

I had opportunity to drive one around a few blocks in Washington, D.C. a couple months ago, and it was a neat little city car, with decent acceleration, and interior space utilization, if not pricey.

The company had edged up its expected MSRP to $36,495, which was $4,000 over the larger, better appointed Nissan LEAF. Like the LEAF, it would have been eligible for subsidies, which would have reduced consumers’ total net outlay.

Sinking ship

The first contract agreement in October 2007 between Ener1 and Think called for its EnerDel battery subsidiary to deliver production prototypes in March 2008 and pre-production parts in July 2008.

The goal then was that Think would sell enough cars for two years ending 2010, allowing Ener1 to sell $70 million worth of its batteries.

Ener1 reportedly invested $90 million based on this promise and hope for sales of as much as $200 million in the longer term.

The trail of unfulfilled plans ended yesterday as a court-appointed trustee from Oslo-based commercial law firm Thommessen took control of Think.

The trustee will manage Think’s assets including those of Think North America, a wholly owned subsidiary with an EV production plant in Elkhart, Ind.

Because the North American division is supported by the Norwegian company, its future is in doubt.

Think almost went down in 2008 with the global financial crisis, but restarted production late 2009 with help from new investors. The company has had a hard time keeping its head above water ever since it was sold by Ford Motor Co., which had owned it from mid-1999-January 2003.

Reports are this is a case of four strikes and they’re out. We shall see whether the company can be rescued again, or not.

Sources: Automotive News, Edmunds


  • Dick Goesinya

    THink Again….nobody wants this car. Its probably junk and overpriced!!

  • cld

    “THink Again….nobody wants this car. Its probably junk and overpriced!!”

    Dick,

    Simply not true. People did want and buy this car. Where it has been sold in the U.S. thus far, state and federal incentives brought the price down into the low $20K’s. People who have driven the car have raved about it. If I had lived somewhere where Think had offered it for sale, I would have strongly considered it.

    I thought Think was going to make it this time. They seemed to be lining up government contracts right and left. Obviously the Ener1 pull-out was a huge blow. I hope they don’t liquidate, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

  • James Davis

    Do you Think placing that $36,000.00 price tag on a $2,000.00 piece of plastic had anything to do with them pricing themselves right out of the market? They got stupid and greedy in an American and HR Fed created collapsing world economy and now they have to pay the price for their greed and stupidity. Let Think (which they never did) slide down that disappearing plastic tube they created for themselves and maybe a whole new and better Thinking electric car will emerge.

  • ANONYMOUS

    I AGREE 100 PERCENT WITH JAMES

  • Nelson Lu

    Would there be any reason to buy this car over a Leaf? I can’t think of a single one.

  • schanie

    As a side note on the pricing – Think did a day-long test driving event on the Purdue University campus a few months ago. They told potential buyers that they could get them in the car for under $17k. That probably includes the Fed incentive but Indiana has no other incentives, so retail offered had to be around $24k. There are now several of these cars driving around town.

    I think they could have sold a ton of these at $17k to the general public.

  • Remedios

    They badly needed to get the additional funds just to survive the shortage.

  • anne Perretta

    I own a ThInk. It is absolutely divine! I also own a Leaf and a plug-in hybrid toyota. Electric is the future, 100% gas cars are totally obsolete. Before buying Electric, I owned a car that ran on bio-fuel and vegetable oil (gee, what a novel idea, Mr. Von Diesel). It’s the 21st Century. I suggest some of you commenters should join it.

  • staralex76

    great! salon looking awesome, so stilysh and comfortable. hi-class car, absolutely superb

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