THINK has delivered its first US-built EV in Indiana

THINK has started production of its THINK City vehicle in the US, the Norwegian electric-vehicle maker said in a press statement.

THINK’s Elkhart, Indiana, plant is receiving partially assembled vehicles from contract manufacturer Valmet in Finland, where the European version of the THINK City is built.

To prepare the cars for the US market, workers in Elkhart are installing electric drive trains with lithium-ion batteries.

“We are now manufaturing and selling both in Europe and the US and have produced more than 2,500 THINK City vehicles,” said THINK CEO Barry Engle.

The batteries for the US version of the THINK City come from Enerl Inc in Indianapolis. THINK this month delivered 15 cars to the State of Indiana government fleet, noting that these were the first passenger vehicles with American-made lithium-ion batteries to be used in a US fleet operation.

“Our delivery today is part of a larger effort to help transform the US light-duty vehicle fleet from one that is mostly dependent on imported oil, to one that is fueled entirely by domestically produced electric energy,” Engle said.

THINK is specifically targeting US fleet operations, which it hopes will boost sales and jumpstart vehicle electrification across the country. “Fleet sales will drive up vehicle and battery production volumes and drive down costs, which will benefit retail consumers,” Engle said.

THINK plans to roll out retail distribution in select US cities in the second half of 2011. It hopes to build 2,500 cars in the US in 2011. To achieve that goal, THINK will replicate the Valmet production line, tooling facilities and processes in Elkhart. By the end of 2011, it hopes to have increased its workforce there to 100 from 25 at present. By 2013, THINK intends to employ 415 people in Indiana.

THINK is also developing operations in Asia.

The THINK City model is an all-electric, zero-emission car designed in Scandinavia for fleet applications and urban commuters. It can travel 160km on a single charge and has accumulated more than 55 million kilometers  in customer experience since it was first safety-certified in Europe in 1999.