Think has run out of money.
But this time it might be for good.
The Norwegian company, which has created a two-seater electric car, has filed for bankruptcy in Norway. Ener1, the battery maker that invested in Think, presaged the filing when it said in its own SEC filing earlier this week that Think was liquidating because it could not find adequate capital to continue operations. Ener1 will take a $35.4 million charge on its investment in Think and said it didn't expect much from the liquidation.
Think's bankruptcy highlights once again the challenges facing startups trying to break into the automotive market. The business requires massive amounts of capital, but companies also have to budget ample time for safety and reliability testing. Establishing a dealer channel can take years as well. Aptera, VentureOne (a three-wheeled vehicle) and Venture Vehicles have all stumbled in their efforts to bring a car to market, while Coda Automotive and Fisker Automotive, though on track to actually bring cars to market, have faced delays. Meanwhile, Nissan has come out with an all-electric for $32,000 and Mitsubishi will have one hitting the streets in a few months for $28,000.
Tesla Motors in many ways has been the exception instead of the rule. In the future, expect companies to concentrate on components and technology licensing for cars and trucks instead of full-fledged vehicles.
Think's City car dates back to an electric car project started by Ford in the '90s. Ford lost interest and ultimately sold the concept to the people behind Think. While the Ford heritage gave the company a technological foundation, Think still faced delays and high costs. Back in 2008, the Think City debuted in Europe after delays for around $40,000, a price that's quite high for a two-seater economy car. Only a few dealerships carried it.
The company soon after had to halt production because it ran out of money and almost went under. A group of investors, including Ener1, gave the company a new lease on life. A waiting list of potential customers began to form.
In late 2010, it formally announced its plans to come to the U.S. The new sales price was $34,000. Think also made the car zippier by taking the governor off of the pedal to give it better acceleration. It actually didn't drive badly. See video: