Norwegian carmaker Think has had a rough year, having hit a big financial pothole at the end of 2008 that forced it to halt production just about two months after it started. Since then, the company, which has long aimed to bring its electric Think City two-seater to the U.S., has been mired in negotiations with investors to get going again. This week, the company reached a major milestone, raising NOK 250 million (nearly $39 million) in fresh capital from previous and new investors, Norway Post reports this morning, and moving closer to a deal with suppliers. Think said in an announcement yesterday, “Much talked-about capital increase negotiations have reached a first conditional approval from investors, and the company is now moving into formal debt settlement negotiations with its creditors.”
What needs to happen for Think to get back on track and meet its goal of delivering vehicles by year’s end? This morning, Think spokeswoman and chief designer Katinka von der Lippe tells us the company has to strike a deal with suppliers, likely within the next two months. She said, “Think has a very supportive supplier base, and we hope to see good results from the negotiations within the next eight weeks.” She did not comment directly on when production needs to resume for the company to stick with its delivery timeline, but said Think is on track to produce vehicles by the end of the third quarter “when new parts are ordered and received at the factory,” and to deliver Think City cars to Spain “towards the end of this year.”
According to reports in Norwegian media, Think may relocate its manufacturing outside of Aurskog, Norway, where it had previously been assembling vehicles with components from suppliers based in the U.S., Europe and Asia. While the Norwegian government rebuffed Think’s pleas for a bailout last year when the company was in “urgent financial distress” (the words of CEO Richard Canny), and Think has already announced plans to open at least one factory and technical center in the U.S., the company said earlier this year that it planned to continue producing cars in Europe.
As with so many of its potential competitors in the EV market, the relative appeal of setting up shop in different locations for Think depends largely on government incentives at this point. In March, Canny said the company’s stateside subsidiary, Think North America, would join the long line of applicants for low-interest loans under the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.
City car photo courtesy Think