THINK and ITOCHU Corporation announced an expanded partnership for marketing and distribution of the THINK City electric vehicle (EV) and EV drive system in Asia. The two companies have been in a cooperative relationship since 2009, through a number of demonstration projects in association with Ener1, Inc. (Earlier post.)

Following the success of these projects, ITOCHU has made a $5-million initial investment in THINK to formalize the partnership and further develop marketing and distribution opportunities for THINK’s urban vehicle and drive-train business lines in Asia. ITOCHU has been an equity investor and strategic partner of Ener1 since 2003. Ener1, in turn, is an investor in THINK (earlier post); Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer is also the Chairman of the Board of THINK.

This initial investment in THINK is characteristic of ITOCHU’s investment strategy, taking toehold positions and increasing equity stakes on the business achieving certain milestones.

This strategic alliance represents more than selling the THINK City in Asia; ITOCHU will also be marketing THINK’s EV drive system in the business-to-business sector, on the heels of recent purchases by Japan Post and Mazda. The latest generation drive system from THINK—the G4 EV Drive Controller, is now in full-scale scale production in Europe and ready to be commercialized.

—Richard Canny, THINK CEO

THINK’s G4 EV drive controller is a fourth-generation system, underpinning the THINK City EV with a power electronics system comprising the charger, DC-DC converter, inverter and vehicle control module. THINK says that the latest generation drive controller offers a number of benefits, such as enhanced technical safety, improved real world vehicle range, efficiency gains, manufacturing cost reduction and improved functionality and flexibility within the advanced electronic drive-train system.

THINK says that business-to-business agreements for the controller are underway in Asia, Europe and South America.