Valmet Automotive to start production of Think electric car

Valmet Automotive and the Norwegian company Think Global AS have signed a letter of intent under which Valmet Automotive will be a production and engineering partner for the Think City electric vehicle.

According to the letter of intent the manufacturing of Think electric vehicle will be transferred from Norway to Valmet Automotive’s factory in Uusikaupunki, Finland, this year. Valmet Automotive will also become a minor shareholder in Think to indicate its commitment to Think’s future development and long-standing cooperation.

Think City is an electric urban car that is suitable also for highway driving and can travel 140 km on a single charge. The car already has a sales network in Europe and is ready for mass production. Its current order backlog will be transferred to Valmet Automotive’s factory for production.

Valmet Automotive will be responsible for production transfer, manufacturing engineering and logistics, and it will be involved also in the product development of the car. The investments in commencing the production are about EUR 3 million. The planned production volumes are several thousands of cars per year. The launching of cooperation employs about 50 people in autumn and more than 100 people in 2010.

"The partnership with Think supports our know-how in the manufacturing and development of electric cars," says Valmet Automotive President Ilpo Korhonen. "We will soon be manufacturing three different electric vehicles: the Think electric car, the Fisker Karma luxury hybrid and the Garia golf car. The expertise gained from these projects furthers the development of our electric vehicle business alongside conventional vehicles."

For further information, please contact :

Ilpo Korhonen, President, Valmet Automotive, tel. +358 204 84 8001

U.S. lithium-ion battery maker Ener1 Inc will take a 31 percent stake in Think Global, a move that would give the cash-strapped Norwegian electric carmaker another lease on life. Ener1, which currently supplies Think with batteries for its electric vehicles, will invest about $18 million in three tranches, and convert $3 million in debt for preferred shares of the automaker. The funds will help the Norwegian company resume production plans for its Think City all-electric vehicle, which can travel up to 112 miles on a single charge.

Think City’s launch, originally planned for last year, was delayed after the company had to stop production and lay off workers due to severe capital constraints in late 2008.

Think is a pioneer in electric vehicles and a leader in electric vehicle technology, developed and proven over 19 years. It is one of the few companies that has a "ready-to-market" fully electric vehicle, the Think City. Think is also a leader in electric drive-system technology. The largest investor in Think is Ener1, Inc, which is the parent company of EnerDel, a leading manufacturer of automotive battery systems.

The first units should be to European customers by the end of 2009. According to company spokesperson James Andrews, 2,500 people have ordered cars. The TH!NK City is a two-seater hatchback, but the company is also working on a four-seater big enough for two adults and two children, the representative said.

Looking to the West, the company is publicly considering a handful of states in the U.S. where it would produce the TH!NK City. Fundamental to its near-term plans, TH!NK expects to secure a fresh round of funding and emerge from bankruptcy before the Fall. Settling its debts and boosting its capital will allow it to start production.

As with so many other would-be electric car manufacturers, TH!NK’s current corporate condition and history reinforce the reality about how difficult it is to become a successful manufacturer of electric vehicles.

The next effort was another prototype, the PIV3, also known as the City Bee or Citi. Approximately 120 PIV3s were produced, and 40 participated in an electric-car demonstration conducted from 1995-98 in San Francisco. Using learnings gathered from the PIV3, Pivco embarked on what would be its first true production vehicle, the TH!NK.

Valmet Automotive is a provider of automotive engineering and manufacturing services of premium cars. In 40 years the company has produced over 1,100,000 high-quality vehicles in Finland. The cars have been delivered worldwide. Today Valmet Automotive manufactures Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman for Porsche AG. The manufacturing of Fisker Karma hybrid vehicle and Garia golf car starts in 2009. The company is a part of Metso.