Norway's Think to produce electric cars in US

Norway's Think Global electric car company is to manufacture and sell a small, battery-powered vehicle in the US by next year, backed by a Silicon Valley venture-capital, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Think, which was formed when Ford sold its electric vehicle unit to a Norwegian company in 2003, believes it can sell 30,000 to 50,000 vehicles a year in the US, after production is ramped up and a sales network is established, the report said, citing the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers, which has invested in Think. ( dpa )

In Norway, Think is rushing to boost annual production to 10,000 vehicles to meet demand this year in Europe.

The company's first product will be the Think City, a four-seat electric vehicle that can travel some 175 kilometers between charges. The vehicle's range could make it attractive to city commuters who would easily have enough distance to drive to work and home, where they could recharge the vehicle overnight. By 2010, a larger vehicle, the Think Ox will be launched, the report said.

News of the debut of the Think comes as several other US start-ups race to offer US drivers petrol-free vehicles, as the soaring cost of fuel is driving consumers to ditch their fuel-guzzling vehicles and search for other alternatives.

Hybrid cars from Toyota and Honda are enjoying record sales thanks to their combination of internal combustion engines and electric motors, which achieve much greater fuel efficiency than most conventional cars on the road.

But there are many smaller companies like Aptera Motors, Phoenix Motorcars and Tesla Motors Inc hoping to woo drivers with plug-in electric vehicles that will draw all their juice from the electric grid.

The Think City, will be priced at less than 25,000 dollars and will be marketed mostly in densely populated cities because of the car's limited range.

"What we have is a city car, so we would focus on big cities," Jan-Olaf Willums, Think Global's chief executive said, noting that Think may focus on markets on the West Coast such as San Francisco and Seattle.

"But 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."

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