Think has lost an important investor: Ener1

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 24, 2011

Norway-based Think, a manufacturer of electric cars, has lost a major investor - the battery manufacturer Ener1 Inc. Ener1 is not the first investor that Think has lost though. In 2002, Ford Motor Co. pulled out its $123 million investment from Think that includes battery-development costs and initial investment.

During the early parts of this month, Ener1 Inc. disclosed that it would return its 31 percent share on the company and take a write-down of $73.3 million on the investment. CEO Charles Gassenheimer at Ener1 disclosed in an earnings call that the company has decided not to invest further.

He also stated that Think needs to recapitalize its business plan for the future. The situation that Think is experiencing reflects the difficulty that small electric car companies are facing in what is foreseen to be a niche market.

Think has not provided a comment on the matter. On the other hand, an Ener1 spokesperson stated that the company does not think that the market for light-duty electric vehicle transportation will ramp up as fast as the medium-to-heavy duty markets, thus, Ener1 decided to refocus its efforts in that direction.

In addition, Gassenheimer shared that the slow growth of the market for electric cars was basically due to the vehicle costs as well as the slower-than-expected build-out of charging infrastructure. Think contracted with Ener1 in 2007 to supply lithium ion batteries.

By 2009, Ener1 invested in Think. However, the market for the Think City, a compact electric vehicle with a maximum speed of 70 mph, a range of 100 miles, and an initial price of $41,695 for the first 100 vehicles and $36,495 thereafter has not developed in the United States. The Think City is still trailing rival Nissan Leaf, which has a similar range but boasts of a 90 mph top speed and price of $32,780.

Topics: electric car

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