By Mark Kleis
Friday, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 2:25 am
 
Fittingly, the first 15 THINK electric cars made in the Elkhart, Indiana, assembly plant were delivered to its customer - the state of Indiana - for government fleet use.

This marks the first time that an American-made electric vehicle with Lithium-ion batteries has been purchased for U.S. fleet operation. The vehicles delivered were the THINK City model, which is a pure electric vehicle that produces zero emissions and is capable of traveling as far as 100 miles on a single charge.

"Our delivery today is part of a larger effort to help transform the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet from one that is mostly dependent on imported oil, to one that is fueled entirely by domestically produced electric energy," said Barry Engle, THINK CEO. Engle continued, "As part of that goal, we've made a strategic decision to target initially the many millions of fleet vehicles in operation in the U.S. market...These fleets can jumpstart vehicle electrification in Americ's cities and help push the industry past early adopters into mainstream consumer markets."

The vehicles themselves will be used in Indiana state parks, and Indiana Department of Administration director Rob Wynkoop said, "We saw this specific green initiative as an opportunity to test alternative energy vehicles in real-life situations. We believe the state parks provide the best locations to test these vehicles."

Indiana embraces vehicle electrification state-wide
Part of the reason THINK chose Indiana to base its U.S. production was broad support for the technology at a state level. As a result, mass deployment of electric vehicles in the state of Indiana is being facilitated by Project Plug-IN, an initiative organized by the Energy Systems Network (ESN), which is creating one of the most advanced ecosystems to support electric transportation in the country.

As a result of the efforts of ESN, the state of Indiana will have at least 100 electric vehicles and charging stations in government and corporate fleets, along with limited consumers.

"Our goal with Project Plug-IN is the seamless transition for consumers from gas-powered to electric cars," said ESN president and CEO Paul Mitchell. "To make this happen requires collaboration among vehicle and battery makers, utilities and government agencies at all levels and the willing participation of fleet operators, like the Department of Administration. The response so far has been tremendous."