THINK to Ramp-up EV Production in Indiana and Create 400 Green Jobs

The Norwegian all-electric car manufacturer said it has delivered the first 15 Indiana-made THINK City cars to the fleet of the Indiana state government. It plans to produce 300 Think City cars by the end of this year at its Elkhart, Indiana, plant, and 2,500 by the end of 2011.

The 15 vehicles, which were shipped from THINK’s manufacturing facility in Elkhart, Ind., are the first electric passenger vehicles with American-made, Lithium-ion batteries used in a U.S. fleet operation.

“We’re proud to be the first manufacturer to deliver an all-electric car built in the U.S. with an advanced battery that suits the needs of government and commercial fleet operators,” said THINK CEO Barry Engle. “Our delivery today is part of a larger effort to help transform the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet from one that is mostly dependent on imported oil, to one that is fueled entirely by domestically produced electric energy.”

Indiana Department of Administration director Rob Wynkoop, whose agency maintains the state vehicle fleet, said: “We saw this specific green initiative as an opportunity to test alternative energy vehicles in real-life situations. We believe the state parks provide the best locations to test these vehicles.”

THINK currently employs more than 25 local workers in Elkhart. The company said it plans to have more than 100 by the end of 2011, and more than 415 employees by the end of 2013.

THINK’s plant in Elkhart is receiving partially assembled vehicles from contract manufacturer Valmet in Finland, which produces THINK vehicles for the European market. Workers at the Elkhart plant are completing production of the cars, including installing electric drive trains with advanced Lithium-ion batteries from manufacturer Ener1, Inc. also based in Indiana.

THINK will replicate the current production line, tooling facilities and processes used in Finland. This coincides with the company’s plans to scale up production to build 2,500 vehicles for the American market in 2011.

“This plant will be a model for efficiency and quality, as we’re going to be sharing best practices among Elkhart, Oslo and Finland,” said THINK Manufacturing Director Karl Turner. “Our process eliminates the need for paint or welding shops, so it is environmentally very clean, is low capital intensive and is readily replicable for other locations to support future growth.”