Turkish Auto Group Wants to Revive THINK
A few weeks ago we reported Norwegian automaker, THINK, was in bankruptcy, and pundits were saying this was the end – well apparently they thought wrong.
According to Automotive News, the small city car maker is in the advanced stages of negotiations with Turkey-based BD Otomotive, an investment group, wishing to bring the brand into Turkish ownership.
“Our intentions are simple – to bring THINK out of bankruptcy and make it the affordable urban EV for Europe it was always designed to be,” said BD Otomotive Chairman Osman Boyner in a statement. “We have the manufacturing capabilities and sales network to do this, and combined with a core group of retained Think talent in Norway, we aim to launch new platforms and the next generation of vehicles if successful in our bid.”
While Turkey may not be commonly thought of as an auto industry stronghold, it reportedly exported over 754,000 cars and trucks built on license for major OEMs including Toyota, Renault, Ford, and FIAT.
As for BD Otomotive, it said it owns and operates production facilities in Turkey and Italy involved with converting fuel-powered light commercial vehicles into electric vehicles. It is also in the business of automotive battery pack assembly and has a recycling plant for lithium ion and other industrial batteries.
The group said it has also invested in EV charging infrastructure, owns and operates charging stations across Turkey and is a distributor of Fisker Automotive’s plug-in hybrids and BYD plug-in cars.
BD Otomotove said it has completed its due diligence, and its board of directors has approved the transaction’s approval through the Norwegian court-appointed law firm trustee Thommessen.
Thommessen has responsibility for managing all of the assets for THINK Global AS, including a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary THINK North America, which has an EV production plant in Elkhart, Ind.
Only 33 the U.S. version of THINK’s mini electric vehicle called the City were sold in 2010. Worldwide, the company recorded 1,043 units sold in 2010. Sales for 2011 have not been made public.
“THINK delivered 33 THINK City cars to customers in Indiana in December 2010,” said THINK North American spokesman, Brendan Prebo. “These were included in the total units sold that year. We have not released sales figures for 2011 yet.”
The big question is what is THINK thinking?
This is not the first time it has filed for bankruptcy and the company has never been very stable since sold by Ford in 2003.
The company’s one U.S. product was a tiny 100-mile range, 68-mph top speed EV that cost more than a nice Acura – or compared to its nearest competitor, it was priced $3,700 over the Nissan LEAF.
We have no idea what plans are for the U.S., and how this will play out overall should it come to fruition – nor did THINK North America have any comments to help shed light on the subject.
“THINK North America is not involved in the bankruptcy process nor negotiations with potential buyers or investors,” Prebo said, “therefore I can’t comment on what the result of these ongoing negotiations will be.”
Prebo did say the U.S. production plant is not completely sidelined at this juncture.
“We are currently not in production in Elkhart, however the plant has not closed,” he said.
BD Otomotive says it is a distributor for the pending and limited-production Fisker Karma and BYD plug-in cars. Would the company attempt to make the THINK into more of a volume seller?
Since THINK is accused of owing $35.4 million to its former battery supplier, will BD Otomotive use a new battery from its own production capabilities, and market it in Europe only? Its statement above said nothing about North America, but did say it wishes to fulfill its perception of the City’s original intent and make it an affordable car in Europe.
Would the Turkish buyers decide to liquidate THINK’s U.S. subsidiary to fortify its financial strength, perhaps offering the City as a lower priced Euro-only car? Or will the new investors continue to build on the U.S. foothold already established?
And regardless what plans are, will this company that has crashed and been revived so many times finally be enabled to fly under new ownership?
We shall see.