“Ideal” is not a word often associated with the U.S. auto industry these days. But the chief executive of Norway-based electric car maker Think sees potential for it to move in that direction with electric vehicles. “The U.S. is quickly overtaking Europe as an attractive market for EVs and is an ideal location to engineer and build EVs,” Think CEO Richard Canny said today in a release from the company. Canny is in Ann Arbor, Mich., this week, meeting with representatives from eight states to discuss U.S. manufacturing plans for the all-electric Think City two-seater.
Think revealed a few details on its manufacturing plans today, dangling job-creation promises that could help entice tax credits or other incentives from states amid rising unemployment. California, for one, has made a big push to lure next-generation vehicle manufacturing into its economy, hoping to serve as a kind of “launch pad” for the emerging EV industry.
Think announced today that it plans to open a factory and “technical center” in one of the eight states involved with the talks in Michigan today. Think said the factory — slated to start with a run of 16,000 cars per year — will initially employ about 300 workers, while a technical center could provide jobs for another 70 engineers and electric drive specialists. Long term, the company hopes to churn out 60,000 electric vehicles per year and employ 900 people in the U.S. operations.
To those who might be wary of a foreign-based company leading a charge to transform the auto industry, thinking that it could compromise jobs, Think says, well, think again: It may be headquartered abroad, but Canny said today that his company aims to drive stateside job growth: “We see ourselves playing a small but potentially growing role in re-inventing the U.S. auto industry by bringing back new manufacturing jobs to the U.S. to replace internal combustion engine vehicles that are expensive to operate and maintain with clean, efficient electric vehicles.”
Reinvention, however, doesn’t come cheap. Think North America, a joint venture launched with Kleiner Perkins and Rockport Capital last spring, plans to join the long line of applicants for low-interest loans under the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.
Photos courtesy TH!NK