MUNICH -- Norwegian electric car maker Think Global will start production of the Think City minicar in the United States in 2011.
The company plans to invest $43.5 million to retool a former supply plant for the recreation vehicle industry in the Elkhart, Indiana. The factory will make up to 20,000 units of the battery-powered City annually. Think will start U.S. sales of the City later this year.
The company has been busy. It started European production of the City last month at Finnish contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive's plant in Uusikaupunki.
Think stopped output at its factory in Aurskog, near Oslo, Norway, in the second quarter of 2009 as a result of the financial crisis.
Valmet is one of the investors that helped Think raise $47 million in capital this summer to exit court protection in Norway.
Think hopes to have 4,600 units of the two-seat City built in Finland in 2010, sales director Richard Waitz told Automotive News Europe in October.
In November, Charles Gassenheimer, chairman and CEO of lithium-ion Indiana-based battery maker Ener1 Inc., which has a 31 percent stake in Think, told Reuters that Think had picked a site in Indiana for its U.S. manufacturing. A Europe-based Think spokesman responded to the report by saying that Indiana was one of four states in the running for the investment.
Ener1 Inc. is Think's largest investor. Its subsidiary, EnerDel, which is based just hours away from Elkhart in Indianapolis, will supply Think with lithium-ion batteries. Swiss company MES DEA supplies the City's alternative nickel-sodium batteries.
In addition to incentives provided by the state of Indiana and Elkhart County, Think plans to utilize funding from the U.S. Department of Energy ATVM loan program to establish its new production facility, the company said in a statement.
According to the Indianapolis Star newspaper, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Think North America up to $3.04 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $65,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. The city of Elkhart has approved an additional tax phase-in at the request of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County.