After having managed to weather financial storms for a good deal of its two decades in existence, Think Global AS, parent company of the diminutive Think City EV, formally declared bankruptcy last week in its home country of Norway. The move raises major questions about its potential viability, both in Europe and in the U.S., where it has a production facility located in Elkhart, Indiana.
Owned by Ford Motor Company from 1999-2003, Think Global’s most recent near-death experience came in 2009 as much of the world economy imploded. Last year, production of Think City EVs restarted in Norway at a plant operated by automotive contract constructor, Valmet. However, fewer than 1,100 Think City EVs were sold in 2010 and none had even been produced at all since March of this year. Think Global also had projected turning out some 2,500 cars this year at its U.S. subsidiary, Think North America. While no final decision has been made regarding the future status of that operation, things are not looking very promising.
The fate of Think Global took a profoundly ominous and potentially fatal turn in May when Ener1, its primary investor and exclusive supplier of EnerDel lithium-ion battery packs for the Think City EV, walked away and completely wrote off its 31-percent ownership position in Think Holdings. Ener1 claimed the investment it originally made in late 2007 was “impaired” based on the automaker’s failure to produce and sell cars on the levels it had forecast. Think Global AS is currently under the control of a court-appointed trustee in Oslo, but barring a new major investor stepping forward in fairly short order, liquidation procedures are expected to begin.