Norwegian electric car maker Think, ending weeks of speculation about its U.S. expansion, said today it would build a green car assembly plant near Elkhart, Ind.
The company already produces its plastic-bodied, battery-powered Think City in Uusikaupunki, Finland, at investor Valmet Automotive's assembly plant. The $43.5 million plant in Indiana will have capacity of 20,000 vehicles per year, with production starting in 2011, the company said in a statement today.
The plant will employ up to 400 people by 2013. The Oslo-based carmaker did not mention the exact site in Elkhart County, but officials there are discussing a tax abatement for a Think plant in Goshen, Ind.
Think's biggest investor, Ener1 Inc. of New York, makes lithium-ion battery packs for Think at its Indianapolis-based subsidiary EnerDel.
Ener1, Valmet and other investors brought the company out of insolvency in 2008, giving Think another lease on life. Its original owner, Pivco Industries AS, ran out of funding in the late 1990s and sold it to Ford Motor Co. It passed from Ford to a series of private investment groups.
Think boasts that its two-passenger City can travel for up to 100 miles at highway speeds on a single charge. It is currently sold in Norway, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain.
“Things are moving very swiftly for the company in Europe,” CEO Richard Canny said in the statement. “Now it's time for us to do the same in the North American market.”