By on January 5, 2010

Who'd have thunk it?

Good news for Elkhart, Indiana today, as The Detroit News reports that the Norwegian EV firm Th!nk has chosen the city for its $43.5m US production facility. The plant will have a production capacity of 20k units, once production ramps up from its 2011 start. By 2013, Th!nk says it will employ 415 workers who will build the firm’s City model, a two-seater which will initially cost nearly $40k before government tax breaks. The factory will receive some $17m in state and local tax breaks and incentives. Th!nk hopes to eventually reduce the cost of the City, which has a stated range of 112 miles and a top speed of 70 mph, to about $20k.

Models will be imported from Norway during initial sales, scheduled to begin this year. Th!nk, which emerged from bankruptcy last fall, had originally planned for production of up to 60k units in the US, but has reduced that goal in light of the financial downturn. Indiana battery firm EnerDel is a 30 percent owner of Th!nk, making the Indiana plant placement a relatively unsurprising decision. Whether US consumers are willing to spend amounts approaching the list price for a Chevy Volt (let alone the Nissan Leaf), remains a huge open question underlying the whole project. After all, Th!nk even had to shut down its European manufacturing (under contract to Finland’s Valmet) for three quarters of 2009.

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14 Comments on “EV Firm Th!nk Picks Indiana Site For US Factory...”


  • avatar
    Steven02

    Maybe when it costs around 20k, but I am not sure why people would want this car when it costs as much as a Volt.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    $40,000 for this??? I Th!nk not…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    If they are struggling to sell an EV in Europe, they’ll die in the US very quickly.  With a 70 mph top speed and 0-50 mph in 16 seconds, I Th!nk this car is a non-starter:
    http://www.gizmag.com/ukp14000-thnk-city-electric-car-ready-for-showrooms/9032/
     
    Just imagine a car with the performance of a ’62 Beetle selling for $4300 back then, instead of $1600.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Size wise I’d rather have a ’62 Beetle with an EV drivetrain. Looks better too. I want the ’69 and later IRS/balljoint suspension though please. And a ragtop sunroof… GRIN!
     
    Seriously – why can’t I buy a normal looking car with an EV drivetrain? Why does it always have to look like it came out of a sci-fi movie like Back to the Future II or that Mars-Schwarzenegger movie.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    I like the Think. It’s actually just the right size and range for an urban-oriented EV, which makes the most sense given range limitations at extended higher speeds. The key is the price; if/when they can get these down to their goal of $20k, it will be attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      Yet all BEV manufacturers are hoping to reduce costs to $20K or so.  At $40K there may be few takers when there are so many coming alternatives at the same price point.   I’ve driven a Th!nk–it’s so tiny I kept thinking I was in carnival bumper car ride looking to crash into a Smart Car.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Did anyone see the real news here? Elkhart Indiana. Imports are popping factories all over the U.S. and for  a few years I’ve been screaming why virgin land when Detroit is already there and vacant? I’ve just recently learned this week from a long time Detroit resident, that the city has in fact tried attracting these new comers only to meet great opposition from  the residents who hate anything to do with imports. Imagine the city is ruins, new local jobs would be created, and the city would revitalize itself. No one likes change, but it’s time to let it go.

    • 0 avatar
      dmrdano

      Elkhart is a great place for this plant.  They have a strong, available workforce used to building “niche” vehicles.  I wish them well. If I were looking for a place to build anything, Detroit would be at the very bottom of my list of potential locations. No, under the bottom.

      I like the car, but cannot imagine paying $40K for it. Perhaps this is why Th!nk has had financial trouble?

      By the way, am I the only one who thinks this picture looks like a race between the car and the girl – with the girl winning?

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Isn’t Elkhart the home of several motor home manufacturers? Probably a lot of good workers there.
     
    Seeing all these new energy ideas, new materials, and real efforts at aerodynamics is fun.

    Great to see the end of of the era where “a bigger engine will solve all our problems”.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    One potential problem for pocket-sized foreign carmakers is that they’ll be competing against the US government and its friends. Ask the Brazilian ethanol producers about how that works out.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Elkhart is indeed the RV manufacturing capital of the US.  Few places in Indiana were hit as hard by this recession as Elkhart, which has until recently had the highest unemployment rate in the state.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    Best wishes to Elkhart, but I think (no pun intended) this thing is a non starter. Once you get past the urban greenie market it’s dead, especially at that price point.

    I notice a bit of irony given all the critics of the Volt…. saying now that they’d rather have the Volt than this!


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