Recent reports that Think would move the manufacturing location of its City electric cars from Norway to Finland were true. The Norwegian EV company has some even better news, though: it has received approval for its debt settlement plan and will now be able to exit court protection. Think CEO Richard Canny said the ruling means "we can re-start production of the TH!NK City as soon as possible."
Re-starting production will be helped along thanks to a capital increase of $47 million from Ener1, Valmet Automotive and Investinor, the Norwegian Government-backed investment fund. After this latest round of financing, Ener1 will own about 31 percent of Think. Valmet's new investment in Think makes sense because the contract automaker (Valmet also makes cars for Porsche and will soon begin making the Fisker Karma) should start building Think City EVs before 2009 is finished. Norwegian production will be "suspended indefinitely." What does this mean for people who want to buy a City? Canny is hopeful that first customer sales will be made "this side of 2010." Thanks to everyone who sent this in!
THINK EXITS COURT PROTECTION AND PLANS TO RESUME NORMAL OPERATIONS WITH PRODUCTION OF THE READY-TO-MARKET TH!NK CITY
* DEBT SETTLEMENT PLAN APPROVED
* CAPITAL INCREASE OF $47m
* NEW INVESTORS NAMED
* NEW EUROPEAN PRODUCTION LOCATION IDENTIFIED
OSLO, Norway, 27 August 2009 – Think, the Norwegian electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer announces today that the Norwegian courts have approved its debt settlement plan, enabling the company to exit court protection.
Effectively, this puts Think back in business and in a position to resume normal operations in terms of the manufacture and sale of new electric vehicles (EVs), namely, its latest TH!NK City model.
Think CEO Richard Canny said: "This court ruling completes the final step in our return to normal operations. It is an important day for Think, and we would like to thank our creditors and suppliers for their continued support, and to show our appreciation to Think's very patient and loyal customers – this means we can re-start production of the TH!NK City as soon as possible."
The TH!NK City is the company's latest generation EV, and is one of the few ready-to-market fully electric vehicles available in the world today. With its market-leading 180km range, class-leading 100km/h performance and safety attributes, the TH!NK City is the first vehicle of its type to be granted pan-European regulatory safety approval and CE certification.
A significant capital increase has also been arranged to enable the company to immediately get back to the business of producing and selling EVs. The company continues to be backed by a very loyal group of investors, made up of some individual Norwegian investors as well as leading venture capital and clean-tech investment firms from the USA and the UK.
In addition, some new investors have joined the shareholder group as part of the capital increase, which is worth some $47 million in total capital introduced and conversion of interim financing to equity. The equity transaction is scheduled to close next week.
Named investors are: Ener1, Inc. from the USA, Valmet Automotive from Finland and Investinor, the Norwegian Government-backed investment fund.
Ener1, Inc. is the largest of the investors in Think, and once the transaction is complete, will hold an equity stake in the company of approximately 31%. Ener1, Inc. is the parent company of EnerDel, a leading manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion automotive battery systems based in Indianapolis and an existing supplier to Think.
EnerDel and Think have agreed to enter into a long-term battery supply agreement as part of the transaction. They also intend to combine the companies' complementary competitive advantages in the fast-growing electric drive-train business to co-manufacture and market electric drive systems.
Valmet Automotive is a leading provider of engineering and manufacturing services to the automotive industry and is joining Think as a new industrial partner with a small share in the company. Future production of the TH!NK City EV will commence at Valmet's high-technology manufacturing base in Uusikaupunki, Finland, alongside its assembly facilities for the Porsche Boxster and Cayman models for Porsche AG.
These state-of-the-art production facilities, coupled with Valmet Automotive's vast engineering and logistics experience make for a highly effective and complementary relationship between the two companies, with production in Finland scheduled to start sometime during the fourth quarter of this year.
Production at Think's existing assembly facility in Aurskog, Norway, will be suspended indefinitely in light of the agreement with Valmet Automotive, resulting in approximately 85 employee positions being affected across the company.
Think however remains a truly Norwegian company, with its senior management, sales, marketing, design and engineering staff still located at the company's Oslo headquarters.
Investinor is a Norwegian venture fund backed by the Government's Ministry of Trade and Industry. The fund invests in Norwegian companies on strict commercial terms in return for share capital, and is investing NOK30million ($5million) in Think's capital increase.
Richard Canny added: "With this group of shareholders offering the financial backing and support needed to get Think back into production, we are very excited about what the future holds for this company. We'd like to thank our existing investors for their continued support, and also to welcome the new investors on board.
He concluded: "Establishing production in Finland and expanding our sales organisation around Europe is going to keep us extremely busy in the coming months – but we are very confident, the TH!NK City is literally ready for sale and we look forward to delivering the first of our customers' new cars this side of 2010."