Electric Car Company Files For Bankruptcy...Again

Posted: Jun 27, 2011 4:07 PM

The third bankruptcy of Norwegian electric carmaker "Think" should be an indication that electric cars aren't exactly the best products on the market.

“Think filed for bankruptcy after failing to attract adequate capital to continue funding operations,” Salem said in an email. “The bankruptcy process does not include Think North America, which is a separate legal entity.  The trustee will determine the future disposition of Think North America’s assets.

This is the third – and likely the last – trip to bankruptcy court for Think since its founding in the early 1990s. (Battery maker Ener1, Think’s largest shareholder, stated in a regulatory filing that it expected to take a $35.4 million charge.)

Going green didn't exactly pan out:

Think was a company ahead of its time in the late ‘90s when it made a plastic-bodied, battery-powered urban runabout called the City that it sold in Europe and leased in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Among its customers was a Stanford graduate student named Sergey Brin.) Ford had acquired a majority stake in Think and pumped $100 million into the development of the City to help it meet California’s zero-emission regulations. But anyone who has seen “Who Killed the Electric Car?” knows what came next when California abandoned its electric vehicle mandate.

Ford wrote off its investment and Think filed for bankruptcy. Then in late 2006 an affable white-haired Oslo entrepreneur and professor named Jan-Olaf Willums put together a group of investors and brought Think out of bankruptcy.

In early 2007, long before the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, I heard Willums speak at a green tech conference in San Francisco where he laid out a plan to upend a century-old automotive paradigm, changing the way cars are made, marketed, sold, owned and driven.

In America, sales of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf have been sluggish due to slow consumer demand and inefficiency:

Despite the incessant hype over the sale of the Chevrolet Volt and, to a lesser extent, the Nissan Leaf, sales of the electric and/or electric range extended vehicles have been underwhelming.

Tech blog Engadget notes that both the Volt and Leaf have been honored with “Car of the Year” awards, but that the accolades from the press have done little to spur buyers into action.

According to that blog, both cars “have stunningly low sales in their first couple of months on sale. January’s numbers have just come out and the Volt leads the way with 321 vehicles sold or leased, while Nissan scores an even weaker 87 purchases.”