Indiana Think City EV Plant Fails to Produce, Sits Stagnant
February 3, 2012 9:14 AM
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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,
, 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.
The Detroit News
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2/3/2012 5:07:17 PM
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