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One hundred unfinished Think City cars wait to be completed, but there is no sign of that happening

Alternative energy efforts just can't catch a break these days. In the past six months alone, three major renewable energy companies filed for bankruptcy after receiving grant money from the federal government. Now, it looks like an electric vehicle (EV) plant in Indiana has taken a dive.

Two years ago, Think City cars, which are tiny two-seater EVs that are manufactured by Think Global, were expected to create over 400 environmentally friendly jobs in Elkhart County, Indiana with a production plant. In January 2010, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels boasted the idea of bringing Think to Indiana in an effort to make the state a top electric supporter.

While the intentions were good, things just didn't turn out that way. Today, the Think City plant has 100 vehicles waiting to be completed, but there is no sign of that happening anytime soon. The quiet plant only has two employees right now who keep an eye on the place, and no one seems to know if this situation will ever change.

The Think City plant, as well as its electric battery supplier Ener1, was given incentives and tax breaks galore from the federal government back in 2010 in order to promote alternative energy ideas. It was also an effort to help bring down the price of the Think City cars. However, no one considered the fact that consumers may not want a tiny two-seater car that has a top speed of 65 mph and a hefty $42,000 price tag. Also, Ener1, whose EnerDel subsidiary won an $118.5 million grant in 2009 from the Department of Energy, filed for bankruptcy last week, which undoubtedly affected the Think City plant. EnerDel spent $55 million of the grant before filing.

"By giving money to the battery company and electric car company, they are saying, 'We want you to buy their products even though we know you don't want them,'" said Gregg Fore, an Elkhart recreational vehicle industry executive.

The Think City plant now sits practically vacant. It seems as if the Think City idea was a failure, and not even Boris Zingarevich, the Russian investor who bought Think Global after its bankruptcy, could provide any clarity on the matter. It's also unclear what the total losses are for the state, and how much both Ener1 and Think received in credits and incentives.

The Think City failure resembles a few other recent alternative energy troubles as of late. In September 2011, Silicon Valley-based solar panel company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy after receiving $535 million from the Department of Energy in 2009. Government officials reportedly warned the administration of the viability of Solyndra, saying that it wouldn't last more than a few years, but the warnings were put aside to meet political deadlines.

In November 2011, Beacon Power, a company that creates flywheels to store power and increase grid efficiency by preventing blackouts, filed for bankruptcy after receiving a $43 million loan guarantee from the DOE in August 2010. Then, just last week, Ener1 filed for bankruptcy protection.

Source: The Detroit News

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RE: Who Killed the Electric Car?
By drycrust3 on 2/3/2012 10:08:25 AM , Rating: 4
relatively low "$20K' price

I suspect one major problem with the Think Car, according to the article, is the price isn't actually even close to "a low $20K" mark.
However, no one considered the fact that consumers may not want a tiny two-seater car that has a top speed of 65 mph and a hefty $42,000 price tag.

RE: Who Killed the Electric Car?
By michael67 on 2/3/2012 1:12:43 PM , Rating: 3
They went for about $30k, not great but not real bad eider.
Problem is most people have not considered how to utilize a car like this the best way.

Me and my wife's family live close to the city of Bergen in Norway, what use to be farm country but is now the suburbs, we live there with lets say 4 family's on family owned land.

And we got our self a couple of years ago, actually 2 of these car's second hand for about $10k each.
And everyone in the whole family is using them, for all those small trips like going to the gym, go shopping, and go to school, so on and so on, and now we actually considering buying 1 or 2 more.

Not saying that i love the car, actually i really don't, but one aspect of the car you got to love, its about 85% (about 70% for USA) cheaper to drive per km/mile then a normal petrol car.

6Kr = $1 +/-

But agree, the new price is a bit to high for a small cheap plastic car. (it dose hardly rust do ;-)
They should let you pick battery size your self as it count for a large chunk of the prize, as we could properly do with half the size.

No they are not a replacement for a real car, but hey, they do make for a hell of a cheap in use second car.

RE: Who Killed the Electric Car?
By StanO360 on 2/3/2012 3:00:22 PM , Rating: 3
But it's very relevant that you purchased it used and therefore the real value is revealed. If it was 10k used it should have been 16k-18k new (maybe?). Not 30k. A lot of Americans would buy one under those terms too.

The Smart cars are a flop because they cost as much as compacts and get the same MPG, they're hideous and tiny (and like many Finn's we are tall as well).

RE: Who Killed the Electric Car?
By Alexvrb on 2/4/2012 12:52:12 AM , Rating: 2
I've talked to a couple of Smart car owners who admitted that the mileage is not as good as they were anticipating, not in real world driving conditions. Plus, as you said, they are ugly, tiny, and overpriced. Even a typical compact car towers over them.

RE: Who Killed the Electric Car?
By Alvord on 2/5/2012 12:46:00 PM , Rating: 1
I own a Think City and it is very dependable and cheap to operate. I pay only $20 to drive 1000 miles. It's 10 times cheaper to fuel than my gasoline car. However, the purchase price is too high. Same for the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMiev. Price should be less than $15K not $35K. EVs are so much simpler than conventional cars. No reason to cost so much.

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