Th!nk Electric Carmaker Coming to U.S.

By · April 21, 2008

Th!nk, the Norwegian electric carmaker, secured funding from two U.S. venture capital firms to bring its business to North America. The financial backing—from Silicon Valley-based Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Boston-based Rockport Capital Partners—will allow Th!nk to set up shop in Menlo Park, California under the banner Th!nk North America. The company's first production car will be the Th!nk City, a small all-electric vehicle capable of reaching 65 miles per hour and traveling up to 110 miles on a single charge.

Richard Blundell, vice president of International Business Development, told, "Th!nk established this joint venture in the U.S. for the assembly, distribution, retailing, and service of Think EVs." Blundell added, "It will be entirely up to this new entity to establish pricing, market launch timing, and retailing strategy.”

The Th!nk City is designed to meet all U.S. federal motor vehicle safety requirements, including being equipped with ABS and dual front airbags. The company intends to launch the vehicle sometime in 2009, with a price below $25,000. “The transportation industry is undergoing its largest transformation since Henry Ford built the model T," Ray Lane, a Kleiner Perkins Managing Partner and Chairman of TH!NK North America. "Today we are witnessing a seminal event—the first highway-capable electric vehicle intended for mass production, representing a big step towards a zero emission transportation industry.”

Th!nk also may use a battery leasing program similar to one it uses in Europe. Under the program, the automaker owns and maintains the battery, and the customer pays a monthly fee for the battery along with electricity and insurance.

The funding comes at a time when venture capitalists are eager to invest in green car technologies—despite the significant risks and problems encountered by new companies trying to offer an affordable and practical all-electric vehicle. So far, hype about new vehicles, technologies, and fuels have produced negligible results in the marketplace.

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