Been following the story of Norwegian electric carmaker Th!nk? In the past week, the company has gone from EV poster child to potentially bankrupt. The Norwegian government did not step in to help, and then the one of Th!nk's largest investors, Stein Erik Hagen, tried a sort of double or nothing plan. To keep current on this news, we've had the help of AutoblogGreen reader Leif E., who has been translating Norwegian news items for us. He now has another update on the evolving tale. The short version is that a well-known eco-friendly Th!nk investor, Peter Stordalen, didn't bite on the double down idea and the government is being a bit misleading in its reasons for denying Th!nk any help right now. Instead, the Minister of Trade is urging Th!nk to ask the non-political group Innovation Norway for money once the calendar rolls over to 2009. As Leif wrote in to AutoblogGreen, "out of fear of some political ramifications down the road, [the politicians] choose to delay action so the non-political branches could do the heavy lifting for them." Read all of Leif's email after the jump.
Thanks again to Leif E. for the help!
Email from Leif (edited):
Since last night there have been two interesting developments. Peter Stordalen, the other high-profile investor in Th!nk, has stated that "Hagen does not need my help" and that he will "not invest further." From a personal point of view, I think the development is rather strange since Stordalen is the most high-profile environmentalist/rich guy we have, with countless environmental adventures on his record. Like this one, where he chained himself (or linked as the translation goes :P) to the Sellafield Nuclear plant in protest, or this one, where he funded a protest campaign in the last elections against politians who favored dumping toxins accumulated over the years in the shipping bay area on Oslo, just a few miles down the Oslo fjord. The flyer reads on the top: These people will dump toxins in the Oslo fjord. And the bottom: Vote them out! In short, if there are any environmental concerns out there getting a lot of attention - and Stordalen has the time - he has always been likely to pop up at the scene.
Stordalens reply to Hagens "double or nothing plan" as you called it can be found here.
And then we have the government. I was kind of puzzled when the government stated that it would be unfair for them to support Think when there are two other companies in Norway producing electric cars. That is a statement with non-facts since the two other companies do not make cars, but rather 4-wheel motorcycles. For example, the Buddy is worlds apart from the Think City in terms of range, security and practical use and is not classified as a car by the car/road authorities, but as a motorcycle. So either is our leaders are poorly informed, or they are misleading the public with the notion of that the Buddy can be looked upon as a car even if it isn't. The result being that they don't have to make any tough decisions.
Today, the Minister of Trade said that the government has beefed up Innovation Norway for the next year with an extra 150 million dollars, making their operating budget for their next year 410 million dollars. Innovation Norway is a nonpolitical arm of the state whose main focus is to give loans and funding for innovative start ups, preferably in small districts. I would argue that Think is pretty innovative and they are also located in a small district. The minister is urging Think to apply for a loan after New Year's.
So, out of the 410 million Innovation Norway can spend the next year, Think will probably ask for 30. A lot of the media is already treating this as a sure thing. If this where to go through, I will have a laugh at the expense of our elected officials. Basically, you then have the story of the government wanting to help, but, out of fear of some political ramifications down the road, they choose to delay action so the non-political branches could do the heavy lifting for them =)
An article about the possible rescue from Innovation Norway from NRK (Norwegian "State" Broadcasting), the biggest television network is here (the article makes a mistake in translating our currency, the Crown (Krone) into Dollars).