Norway's electric car maker Think to resume production

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some good news for Norwegian's electric car maker Think in Norwegian, which apparently has found the capital needed to continue production after the summer. I wrote a few days ago about how they obtained an order for 500 cars from Spain making a total of 2000 cars to be produced, but were lacking capital to do so. That article noted that Think wasn't able to get financing from the US government for their planned plant (probably in Oregon) due to not having any capital in the first place, so does this mean that they'll now be able to apply?

Here's a summary of part of the article:

Think's president Richard Canny went to EVS24 in Stavanger with good news: "We are now in the process of finalizing negotiations with creditors and investors, so the finances are once again in place. We are now planning to restart production after the summer, so the second half of the year."

It's still uncertain whether this will be in Norway though.

Think has long considered moving production of Think City to either Sweden or England and also has concrete plans for a new factory in the US.

"We are going to remain in Norway anyway in one form or another. It is important to stress that Think is going to survive, the question is just where. But still the main aim is to develop production in Aurskog."

(note: Aurskog is where it is now)

According to Canny Think has an order portfolio of over 2,000 cars. Most of them come from state-sponsored demo programs to give impetus to electric vehicles. Think has agreements with Sweden, Netherlands, Austria and Spain.

Canny doesn't hide the fact that it's not satisfactory to let customers wait forever for cars that have been ordered, but again used the opportunity to point out how patient Think's customers are.

On a related note, there's an interesting video of a battery switcher in Yokohama. Because electric vehicles can only go a few hundred km before they need to be recharged the idea is that you should be able to take your car in to one of these places and get the battery exchanged with a new one, a process that takes under two minutes, so less than the time it takes to fill up a tank of gas. It's the equivalent of switching the battery in a cellphone.

I'm not sure if this will take off though, for two reasons:

1) Since batteries can be charged at home the only time you'll need to switch a battery would be when taking a long trip, but the average person only uses their car for up to 50 km a day. With gas that means a trip to the gas station every few days, but electric vehicles don't have this problem, and that means that the only customers that would need this are those that take long trips all the time, and these people are less likely to buy electric vehicles anyway.
2) Battery technology continues to develop and with that will come ever increasing range. Eventually there will be no need for these stations even for those making a long trip.


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