Norwegian electric carmaker Think has received a $40 million cash injection from existing investors to support its product development, drivetrain projects and planned expansion into North America.
Those same investors helped Think raise $47 million in capital last summer to exit court protection in Norway.
"We are thrilled to have the extra cash and confidence from shareholders. Everything is coming together for the company," Think CEO Richard Canny said in an interview.
The company that has been rescued from collapse three times in its 19-year history says it is now fully funded and expects to be “cash flow positive in 2011.”
Canny told Automotive News Europe in late March that Think will produce 6,000 units of the City full-electric minicar this year and 12,000 in 2011. When asked at that time whether 12,000 units was the number needed make a profit, Canny said, "It is between 6,000 and 12,000 units."
He declined to be more specific.
The latest round of funding came from current Think supporters such as its U.S.-based lithium-ion battery maker, Ener1 Inc., which continues to hold 31 percent of the automaker, and venture capital firm RockPort Capital, which is now Think's second-largest investor with an undisclosed holding.
"Our additional investment reflects our confidence in Think as exceptionally well-positioned for success with a proven product and leading technology in electric drive systems," Wilber James, co-managing general partner of RockPort Capital, said in a statement.
Investinor, a Norwegian venture fund backed by the country's Ministry of Trade and Industry, has dropped from Think's No. 2 investor to No. 3.
Faster entry into the UK
Canny said that the new funding will speed up the launch of right-hand-drive products in markets such as the UK, where government subsidies that take effect in 2011 will reduce the starting price for an electric car by 5,000 pounds (about $7,436). Think had planned to debut in the UK in early to mid-2011 but now aims to start sales there before the end of this year.
The Think City already is available in markets such as Norway, Austria, Spain and the Netherlands.
Canny added that a "significant" portion of the new funding would go toward Think's growing electric powertrain business.
Think has announced projects to supply electric drivetrain systems to consortiums in Japan with Mazda Motor Corp., Japan Post and Itochu Corp.
Think believes the side business could prove to be lucrative as automakers and suppliers look to avoid the huge r&d costs to develop their own systems.
The cash injection also will be applied toward Think's efforts to start production at its U.S. plant in Indiana, where it plans to begin assembling the City in the first quarter of 2011. The company will start sales of the City this year. Those units will be built in Finland by another Think investor, contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive, which started producing the City at its plant in Uusikaupunki in December 2009.
Think has been trying to establish itself in the electric car sector since the 1990s. It was formerly part of U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co., which played a key role in developing the City when it control Think from mid-1999 until January 2003.
Think also announced today that Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer has been named chairman of the automaker's board, effective immediately. He succeeds Reidar Langmo, who becomes vice chairman.