EV Firm Th!nk Picks Indiana Site For US Factory

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Lynn Ellsworth Lynn Ellsworth on Jan 05, 2010

    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".

    • Mtymsi Mtymsi on Jan 05, 2010

      In addition to motorhomes Elkhart was the home of many conversion van manufacturers before they all went belly up.

  • Tparkit Tparkit on Jan 05, 2010

    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.

  • Jpcavanaugh Jpcavanaugh on Jan 06, 2010

    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.

  • WildBill WildBill on Jan 06, 2010

    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!