After a long process of on-again, off-again pseudo confirmations of potential sites, Norwegian EV company Th!nk has officially chosen Elkhart, Indiana, as the location of its U.S. electric car manufacturing facility. For a company that, as recently as a year ago, was swirling in the flushed toilet bowl of failed EV startups, this marks a major turning point.
As a brand, Th!nk has a surprisingly long and complex history. Started as a Norwegian company called Pivco in 1991, the company spent all its money designing a small electric car platform and nearly went bust then. When California originally made its zero emissions vehicle mandate in the 90s, Ford saw the platforms developed by Pivco as the path of least resistance to meet the California mandate and bought the company. As part of Ford, the TH!NK City was born and further developed, but when the California EV mandate was struck down, Th!nk was spun off and became a small independent EV developer in Norway once again. This part of the City EV’s history will be familiar to those of you who’ve seen “Who Killed the Electric Car?”.
In the economic downturn of the last 2 years, Th!nk hit some very rough patches, eventually declaring bankruptcy and then, as part of a restructuring deal, was financed and bought by several investors, including the Indiana based battery supplier, Ener1. So, really, siting the manufacturing facility in Indiana only makes sense for a company that is largely financed by another Indiana-based company.
According to the Elkhart Truth, the Elkhart site was chosen after negotiations with a property owner in Middlebury, Indiana, broke down. The Elkhart city council voted to give Th!nk a phased in tax credit that should provide about $3 million dollars in savings to the company.