Think rethought: Maker of Think City electric car bought, will restart production

Think City race car

The Think City, as modified as the EV Cup electric car competition in 2010.

A Russian timber tycoon and self-described serial entrepreneur takes full control of the Norwegian electric car company that has built the Think City battery electric car. Boris G. Zingarevich, whose investment operations are based in St. Petersburg, Russia, was the winning bidder following a bankruptcy proceeding initiated by the Norwegian carmaker THINK Global AS last month.

THINK Global was an early electric car company whose history dates back to 1991, when it was founded in Oslo, Norway, and includes ownership by Ford Motor Company.  Under Ford,  production of the TH!NK City car totaled 1005 units between 1999 and 2002, when Ford sold the company.

Since then, Think proceeded through a number of owners and investors and relationships including Tesla Motors and General Electric, seemingly always teetering on the edge of insolvency while producing a trickle of Think cars produced in Finland and Elkhart, Indiana. Some of were bought by the state of Indiana for government use.

In a statement today, the automaker, renamed Electric Mobility Solutions, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with American lithium-ion battery maker Ener1, Inc. and Finnish automobile engineering and manufacturing company Valmet Automotive, Inc. to cooperate in relaunching THINK.

Valmet’s resume includes building the Saab 9-3 Convertible in Uusikaupunki, Finland, as well as being a minor stakeholder in Think. Ener1 notably entered partnership with Volvo to jumpstart the Swedish manufacturer’s electric car development program, including the Volvo C30 Electric concept car. According to Forbes.com, Zingarevich is a director of Ener1 and the company’s principal shareholder.

“Having achieved the position of one of the world’s most highly regarded electric vehicle products, the THINK brand is a valuable asset that deserves to continue its key role in the global shift to electrification,” said Zingarevich in a prepared statement. “With the potential of working with the leading American automotive lithium-ion battery maker and Europe’s top automobile engineering and manufacturing company, I believe we could have exactly the right combination and value chain to ensure that the brand will be increasingly competitive in the worldwide electric vehicle market.”

The THINK City is one of the most real-world tested electric cars, with a claimed 28 million miles of road experience in the several countries where it has been marketed, as of September 2010, including sales in Norway, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland and Finland. Think claims the current model has a range of 160 km (about 100 miles) on a single charge.

Under the new ownership and operation under Electric Mobility Solutions, the Think City is scheduled to restart production in the first quarter of 2012.

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