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Norwegian electric-car maker Think revs up funding

May 10, 2010 |  5:14 pm

The Think City is an emission-free, 100% electric vehicle. Credit: Dan Neil / Los Angeles Times
Think, the Norwegian electric carmaker, said Monday that it had raised an additional $40 million in funding to finance its expansion in Europe and the United States.

Venture capital firm Rockport Capital Partners and Ener1, a lithium-ion battery manufacturer, led the funding.

Ener1 remains Think’s largest shareholder, with a 31% stake in the company, while Rockport Capital is now the second-largest owner. Each company put up $12.5 million in the latest round. Past investors have included Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and General Electric.

Earlier this year, Think announced that it would build its first U.S. factory in Elkhart, Ind., with its City urban runabout expected to start rolling off the assembly line in early 2011.

In an interview Monday, Richard Canny, Think’s chief executive, said the company planned to ship an initial 500 cars to the U.S. market from a Finland assembly plant in this year's fourth quarter.

“We’re focusing on a list of five or six cities,” Canny said. “The Bay Area would be one and Los Angeles is also a strong possibility.”

“In Los Angeles and San Diego there’s some very innovative programs up and running where the only thing missing are the electric cars,” he added.

The City, a snub-nosed coupe with a floor-to-ceiling glass hatch, can travel about 112 miles on a charge.

The U.S. version of the car will have a top speed of 70 to 75 miles per hour, according to Think.

Canny said most of the first shipments of cars would be sold to corporate fleets and car-sharing services.

He noted that the new funding would allow the company, which expects to become profitable next year, to introduce a right-hand-drive version of the City to the British market in early 2011 and to expand its electric drive train manufacturing business.

Think has raised $87 million since August.

-- Todd Woody