(Dow Jones) Think, the Scandinavian electric-vehicle maker, will build its first car for the U.S. market in Indiana starting in 2011, the company's chief executive said Monday.
The Oslo-based company plans to sell its City subcompact car in the U.S. starting late next year, with imported vehicles assembled in Finland. Those import sales will be followed by U.S.-produced cars starting in early 2011, said Think CEO Richard Canny.
Think plans to invest $43.5 million in building improvements and equipment in an Elkhart County, Ind., auto assembly plant. The auto company has secured government support, including local and state incentives.
The Think City, which has two front seats for adults and two child seats in back, will have a range of in excess of 100 miles on a single charge and will cost about $30,000 in the U.S. after a $7,500 federal tax credit, Canny said. "It's larger than a Smart car but slightly smaller than the Mini," Canny said of the Think City car. "It's an urban car that can get you on and off the highway."
Top speed for the U.S. model is expected to exceed 70 miles an hour, according to Canny.
Eventually, Think will have enough capacity to assemble more than 20,000 vehicles a year in the Indiana plant. In the first year, Canny said production is expected to be only "in the low thousands." The company started delivering its Finnish-made Think City cars to customers in Europe last month. In Finland, the car is built with the company's manufacturing partner, Valmet Automotive.
Think's Indiana plant will be near to its Indianapolis-based lithium-ion battery maker, EnerDel. Ener1 (HEV), the parent company of EnerDel, which is a 31% equity stakeholder in Think. Earlier this year, Think underwent an operational and financial restructuring followed by a reorganization with a $47 million capital injection, Canny said.
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