Norwegian Firm Plans US Launch for All-Electric Auto in 2009

02 June 2008

OSLO: A concept dumped five years ago by the Ford Motor Company - a 100% electrically powered small car – has been resurrected, revitalized and is ready to roll in the USA next year.  Administering the kiss of life to this now-hot project is Oslo-headquartered firm Think Global.

The Norwegian company, based stateside in Menlo Park, California, is currently indentifying the geographic and demographic sectors most likely to be receptive to an all-electric auto concept. 

Think Global ceo Jan-Olaf Willums says that the car will be branded Think City and priced below $25,000 (€16,066; £12,630). Marketing will focus on densely-populated city areas, essential says Willums because of the model's limited range between battery top-ups – carried out in owners' garages. 

Marketing first-gear will be engaged in the West coast's larger cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle are likely choices.

"But," adds Willums, "we think there's an opportunity for us also on the East Coast, or any city in the US that wants to encourage use of pollution-free electric cars. We don't care if it is in Texas, we will be there."

He clammed-up when asked to forecast likely stateside sales. However, Ray Lane, managing partner of Think Global investor, the venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers, was more forthcoming. 

Once production is in full swing and a sales network is established, Lane predicts that Think City will sell somewhere between 30,000-50,000 City cars anually in the US.

In Norway, the firm has recently stepped-up production to 10,000 a year this year to meet rising European demand. 

Meantime, its North American executives are seeking a production site either in the US or Mexico. The plum is likely to be awarded to whichever location offers the "best deal," a reference to investment incentives such as tax breaks.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff