Russian investor saves TH!NK
Investor Boris G. Zingarevich, based in St Petersburg, was selected as the winning bidder, signing agreements with TH!NK’s investors including American lithium ion battery maker Ener1 and Finnish engineering and manufacturing company Valmet Automotive to help bring it back to life.
TH!NK filed for bankruptcy in June, for the fourth time in its 20 year history, after halting European production in March. Ener1, which had invested £7.8m ($12.5m) in establishing an American subsidiary last year, severed its ties in May claiming it was owed £22.1m ($35.4m) and adding that it wasn’t expecting a significant return from the company’s liquidation.
TH!NK North America and TH!NK UK were both acquired as part of the transaction, and both Ener1 and Valmet will acquire stakes in the new company as part of a debt restructuring programme. The new company will be named Electric Mobility Solutions AS, remaining registered in Norway, with a new sales and servicing structure to be announced shortly.
Production of the TH!NK City, a plastic-bodied electric vehicle, is due to restart in the first quarter of 2012.
‘Having achieved the position of one of the world’s most highly regarded electric vehicle products, the THINK brand is a valuable asset that deserves to continue its key role in the global shift to electrification,’ said Mr Zingarevich.
‘With the potential of working with the leading American automotive lithium-ion battery maker and Europe’s top automobile engineering and manufacturing company, I believe we could have exactly the right combination and value chain to ensure that the brand will be increasingly competitive in the worldwide electric vehicle market.’
After experiencing financial problems, TH!NK was acquired by Ford in 1999, starting a four-year relationship which helped raise awareness globally. But it had struggled since Ford's departure in 2003, with production shutting down in 2004, then again in 2008 at the start of the recession.
Despite extensive marketing in the US last year, a light commercial vehicle announced in January and orders from the Obama Administration, the City’s high price of £21,244 (£34,000) was rumoured to be curbing enthusiasm among consumers.