GE Invests In EV Producer Th!nk and Battery Manufacturer A123Systems To Commercialize Electric Car

March 04, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

General Electric Corp. (GE) announced that it is ramping up its efforts to enable global electrification of transportation by investing in Norwegian electric car manufacturer Th!nk, which unveiled a five-seat crossover concept. To power its vehicles, Th!nk has signed a commercial supply agreement with lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123Systems Inc.. GE states that it is in a unique position to help both companies commercialize technology to make electric transportation practical and affordable.

Th!nk has unveiled a new platform concept for larger electric vehicles: the crossover TH!NK Ox is an electric five-seat car close to the size of a sport utility vehicle but lighter and more aerodynamic. The company has also launched to the market the TH!NK City, a plug-in electric car with over 100 miles range.

The commercial supply agreement with A123Systems provides Th!nk with patented Nanophosphate™ lithium-ion batteries for the TH!NK City, now in production at the company’s factory in Norway. Th!nk is delivering its first cars in Norway, with international sales to follow later in the year.

A123 is now drawing on the research and technology development expertise of GE Global Research in Niskayuna, New York. The joint research will support A123’s battery development, including batteries for Th!nk’s vehicles.

GE Energy Financial Services announced that it has invested in A123Systems to help the company roll out batteries for Th!nk. GE is now A123’s largest cash investor, having put more than US $20 million into the company. In addition, GE disclosed it has invested US $4 million in Th!nk Global, the Norwegian holding company that makes the electric cars.

"Our work with A123 and Think taps GE’s unique combination of venture capital, engineering, process and commercial expertise to help burgeoning, next generation technology companies bring their innovative products to market," said Kevin Walsh, Managing Director and Leader of Renewable Energy Investing at GE Energy Financial Services.

GE’s research includes a US $5.6 million US Energy Department contract to develop smaller, lower cost, higher performing hybrid drivetrain motors for hybrid electric vehicles. In addition, GE is working on a US $1.2 million project to develop advanced high temperature, high energy density capacitors. GE researchers are also engaged in a US $13 million project with the US Federal Transit Administration and other industrial partners to build a prototype lightweight, battery-dominant zero emissions hybrid fuel cell bus.