Geneva & Washington — (BUSINESS WIRE) — GE (NYSE: GE) announced it is ramping up its efforts to enable global electrification of transportation by investing in Norwegian electric car manufacturer Think, which unveiled a five-seat crossover concept car in Geneva today. To power its vehicles, Think has signed a commercial supply agreement with lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123Systems. GE is in a unique position to help both companies commercialize technology to make electric transportation practical and affordable.
Think presented its investment relationship with GE in Geneva at the 78th International Motor Show, where it 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. Also in Geneva, the company launched to the market the TH!NK City, a plug-in electric car with over 100 miles range.
GE announced its electric transportation investments at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference. The commercial supply agreement with A123Systems provides Think with patented Nanophosphate™ lithium-ion batteries for the TH!NK City, now in production at the company's factory in Norway. Think 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 Think's vehicles.
GE Energy Financial Services announced it has invested in A123Systems to help the company roll out batteries for Think. 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 Think Global, the Norwegian holding company that makes the electric cars. The investments were made by GE Energy Financial Services' recently expanded seven-member venture capital group — with offices in Stamford, CT, San Francisco, and Munich, Germany. That group has invested nearly US $100 million in 12 companies during the last 18 months.
GE Energy Financial Services and GE Global Research are backing electrification developments in the transportation sector. This is part of GE's ecomaginationSM initiative, the company's commitment to help its customers meet their environmental challenges while expanding its own portfolio of cleaner energy products.
“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.
Added Mark Little, Senior Vice President and Director of GE Global Research: “Our researchers are improving energy storage and conversion technology as the key enabler of our founder Thomas Edison's vision of electricity as a viable propulsion system for vehicles, ranging from automobiles to industrial vehicles and locomotives.”
A123Systems' President and CEO David Vieau commented: “The GE Global Research Center has been working with A123 on the development of safe and reliable battery-powered transportation, and this has allowed us to accelerate delivery of advanced battery solutions to Think. Our newest collaboration with Think helps us achieve the large-scale production of batteries and integrate them into commercially available electric vehicles.”
Speaking at the Geneva auto show, Think CEO Jan-Olaf Willums said: “We see many important opportunities emerging from our new relationship with GE. This relationship will help Think — the manufacturer of the first highway-approved electric car in mass production — to stay at the forefront of electric vehicle technology.”
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.