Think, the Norwegian maker of cute, recyclable electric cars, suspended production last December after running out of money. But the company has emerged from court-protected bankruptcy with its debt restructured and $47M in new funding led by U.S. firm Ener1, Finnish Valmet Automotive and Norway’s Investinor.
“This means we can re-start production of the TH!NK City as soon as possible,” CEO Richard Canny said in a prepared statement. Besides its creative use of uppercase and punctuation, the TH!NK City has a range of around 100 miles between charges, and a small size that makes it easy to maneuver and park on crowded city streets.
Ener1, the parent company of Indiana-based battery maker EnerDel, will hold a 31% stake in the company. (Guess whose lithium-ion batteries will be in the new models?)
All-electric cars, rather than gasoline-electric hybrids like Toyota’s Prius, have hit lots of hurdles on their way to market. Toyota, the world’s largest car maker, has abandoned the race for a a fully electric vehicle. Toyota execs told the New York Times last week that they don’t expect an EV — a fully electric vehicle rather than a gasoline/electric hybrid like the Prius — to be practically manufacturable for years. “To commercialize pure E.V.’s, we need a battery that far exceeds the current technology,” Toyota executive vice president Masatami Takimoto said.
Silicon Valley, as you might expect, is hell-bent on stealing the auto business from Detroit and reinventing it to be more like the cellphone business. Other backers who have returned to invest in Think in this latest round include Rockport Capital Partners and Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins (which previously held a stake in a US subsidiary which has now been folded into the Norwegien parent). Kleiner and other Silicon Valley investors are still betting on other vehicle startups like Fisker and Tesla Motors. Tesla designs electric cars and then contracts out the manufacture and assembly of the parts involved. Tesla, despite the high-profile slapfest over financial problems that resulted in the ejection of founding inventor Martin Eberhard, may actually build and sell its Model S, a four-door sedan with a hypothetical 300-mile range between charges.
Toyota may be right that an EV revolution that pushes gasoline engines off the streets is years away. But there’s one technology we definitely understand in Silicon Valley: Batteries.
Think previously raised $85 million.
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