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Elkhart mayor worried about car plant's future

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The bankruptcy filing of an electric car manufacturer has clouded the future of a northern Indiana factory that was touted as an economic boost for an area hit hard by job losses in the recreational vehicle industry.

Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore said a company official told the city's economic development director that the factory there wouldn't be affected by Norway-based Think Global's bankruptcy filing, but he remains concerned.

IBJ reported Wednesday that the company was set to file for bankruptcy.

"We don't want them to be a failure," Moore told The Elkhart Truth. "We want them to be successful."

A spokesman for Think North America didn't immediately respond Thursday to phone and email messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

“A court-appointed trustee is taking over the short-term operation of the company and will decide what happens next,” Think Global spokesman James Andrew told Bloomberg News on Thursday.

The company started production in Elkhart in December with a few dozen workers at the factory that once produced parts for recreational vehicles. The company planned for the factory to have some 400 workers by 2013 and eventually build more than 20,000 cars a year.

But the newspaper reported Thursday that production at the Elkhart factory was shut down recently as it waited on the delivery of parts.

A major creditor said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Think Global could face liquidation in Norwegian courts.

New York-based Ener1, which makes lithium-ion batteries in the Indianapolis area at its EnerDel subsidiary, said it expected a possible $35 million loss on unpaid loans and accounts receivable from Think Global.

The Elkhart factory was the first North American production site for the Think City, a compact, two-door car that the company had been making at a plant in Finland.

Think North America issued three recalls on the first cars produced at the Elkhart factory for defects to its gear shift levers, seat belts and defrosting systems.Established 20 years ago, Think said it has put 2,500 of its Think City vehicles on the road in Europe and the U.S. since the model was introduced in 1999. In May, it won a contract to supply electric cars to the U.S. government, it said on its website.

Metso Oyj’s Valmet Automotive unit is ceasing production of Think City electric cars after the Think Global bankruptcy filing, state-owned broadcaster YLE reported on its website.

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  • Think
    I hope to get a second one in a few months.
  • The comments
    A year later, June 2012, I purchased a used Think, with whats left of a full factory warranty. All the state owned vehicles are being serviced under warranty as well. There's always a bunch of negativity from people, rather then positive, trashing any possibility of Think making it. I like mine a bunch, and it was allot less money then most electrics. A great mini car for everyday driving.
    • Details
      The company just delivered a batch of 15 vehicles to the state of Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources in December. Unclear if this is part of a much larger order.
    • The Rest Of The Story
      The Wall Street Journal says the State of Indiana just bought a bunch of these vehicles.

      Now they have worthless warranties after three recalls and appears to be a giant waste of taxpayer money.

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