Lithium-ion battery manufacturer Ener1, Inc. is taking the lead among a group of investors that plans to inject $47 million of equity funding into Think Global AS, the Norwegian electric vehicle producer. Ener1, Inc. is the parent company of EnerDel, a leading manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion automotive battery systems based in Indianapolis and an existing supplier to Think. (Earlier post.)
Ener1, Inc. has agreed to invest approximately $18 million in three tranches, and convert an additional $3.0 million in debt for convertible preferred shares of Think, effectively transferring the 10% equity stake held by Ener1 Group to Ener1, Inc. Once all stages are complete, Ener1, Inc. will hold approximately a 31% stake in the company.
Other stakeholders in the deal include Investinor, the Norwegian sovereign investment company. Finland-based Valmet Automotive, which signed a letter of intent under which Valmet Automotive will be a production and engineering partner for the Think City electric vehicle, will also become a minor shareholder in Think.
Automakers need made-to-order performance combined with the pricing and availability of an off-the-shelf system. Ener1 and Think have collaborated for years on systems development, and today possess a unique ability to bring together category-leading technologies in a fully integrated platform, to suit a wide variety of vehicle applications.—Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer
EnerDel and Think have also agreed to enter into a new long-term battery supply agreement as part of the transaction. EnerDel will receive certain exclusivity rights for the supply of batteries for Think’s current and upcoming new vehicle models.
In July, EnerDel and Think announced they supplying a fully integrated electric drivetrain powered by a lithium-ion battery system to Japan Post for the conversion of delivery vehicles as part of a comprehensive road-testing program. (Earlier post.)
Initially developed for the Think City electric car, the complete system is the first of its kind to provide off-the-shelf availability combined with made-to-order performance in a wide variety of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicle (EV) applications, according to the partners.
Valmet Automotive. According to the letter of intent signed by Valmet and Think, the manufacturing of Think electric vehicle will be transferred from Norway to Valmet Automotive’s factory in Uusikaupunki, Finland, this year.
Think City is an electric urban car that is suitable also for highway driving and can travel 140 km on a single charge. The car already has a sales network in Europe and is ready for mass production. Its current order backlog will be transferred to Valmet Automotive’s factory for production.
Valmet Automotive will be responsible for production transfer, manufacturing engineering and logistics, and it will be involved also in the product development of the car. The investments in commencing the production are about €3 million (US$4.2 million). The planned production volumes are several thousands of cars per year. The launching of cooperation employs about 50 people in autumn and more than 100 people in 2010.
The partnership with Think supports our know-how in the manufacturing and development of electric cars. We will soon be manufacturing three different electric vehicles: the Think electric car, the Fisker Karma luxury hybrid and the Garia golf car. The expertise gained from these projects furthers the development of our electric vehicle business alongside conventional vehicles.—Valmet Automotive President Ilpo Korhonen