Ener1 Inc. is buying 31 percent of Think Global, thereby locking in the Norwegian electric-vehicle maker as a long-term customer for lithium ion batteries from its EnerDel unit.
Its a reversal of the usual arrangement whereby automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler AG have bought stakes in battery makers, in part to ensure a supply of batteries for their planned electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
As part of the deal, EnerDel, an Indianapolis maker of lithium ion batteries, will receive certain long-term exclusivity rights to supply batteries for Thinks current and upcoming new-vehicle models. EnerDel already supplies batteries to Think.
Until now, both EnerDel and A123 Systems Inc. of Watertown, Mass. supplied batteries to Think.
Ener1, a New York technology company that makes lithium ion batteries and fuel cell products, said yesterday that it will lead a group of investors that plans to inject $47 million into Think. Ener1 will invest about $18 million in three portions and convert an additional $3.0 million in debt into convertible preferred shares of Think.
Other stakeholders in the deal include Investinor, the Norwegian sovereign investment company.
Ford Motor Co. owned Think, of Oslo, from mid-1999 until January 2003.
In early 2008, GE Energy Financial Services, an arm of General Electric Co., invested $4 million in Think and $20 million in A123 Systems.