Think Global AS and Azure Dynamics Corp. are the latest companies to bring electric vehicles to U.S. roads, following hot on the heels of Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co.
This week marked the first customer sales of the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the electric plug-in Chevrolet Volt. But consumers who want to buy EVs from Think and Azure will have to wait. For these companies, fleet users are coming first.
Think delivered its first U.S.-manufactured cars – 15 City models - to the State of Indiana today for use as part of the government's fleet. The four-seat City can drive 100 miles on a single charge and reach a top speed of about 68 mph.
The delivery marks the start of Think's push toward reducing gasoline-powered fleet vehicles, CEO Barry Engle said in a statement.
“As part of that goal, we've made a strategic decision to target initially the many millions of fleet vehicles in operation in the U.S. market,” Engle said in a statement. “These fleets can jump-start vehicle electrification in America's cities and help push the industry past early adopters into mainstream consumer markets. Fleet sales will drive up vehicle and battery production volumes and drive down costs, which will benefit retail consumers.”
The EVs were produced in Think's Elkhart, Ind., plant and have Lithium-ion batteries assembled in the state by Ener1, Inc. Ener1, based in New York, holds a 34 percent stake in the automaker.
Most of the cars will be used in Indiana's state park system, according to a statement released today. Think says it will begin U.S. sales of City EVs in limited markets next year. The company is looking at EV-ready areas such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Washington D.C. and Indianapolis, because of its proximity to Think's manufacturing plant. The first Think vehicles will cost $34,000, including delivery fees.
Azure has filled the last two positions in its LEAD customer program for the electric version of Ford Motor Co.'s Transit Connect van. The program allowed 10 commercial and government fleet operators a chance to purchase the initial 2010 production units of the Connect Electric.
The company, which develops and produces hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles, has been focusing on commercial delivery fleets.
Azure did not identify its two latest customers, saying only that they are a Washington D.C. governmental organization and a logistics organization that purchased 30 vehicles. Azure says nearly 150 Connect Electric vehicles have been purchased by the10 fleet operators.
Azure says it now plans to accept orders for the Connect Electric to all North American fleet operators. It plans to begin targeting European markets in the next few months. Production there is not scheduled to begin until August 2011.