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Think delivers City cars to Indiana

The state that's home to Think's U.S. assembly plant is the first customer to receive fleet of American-made City cars. It plans to study the impact of electric cars on grid.

Think's City car, mainly marketed to urban dwellers, has the capacity to go 112 miles on a single battery charge, but only a top speed of 60 miles per hour.

Norwegian automaker Think plans to deliver 15 of its Think City cars to Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana today.

Think CEO Barry Engle is expected to hand over the vehicles at Fort Harrison State Park as part of a ceremony to promote the all-electric vehicle.

Indiana will be the first U.S. customer, as part of the state's Project Plug-In initiative, to drive U.S.-assembled versions of the Think City, and it's obvious why.

Think's U.S. assembly plant happens to be in Elkhart, Indiana. And while not all the City's parts are "Made in the USA," one key component is. Ener1, the exclusive battery supplier for all of Think's U.S. vehicles, manufactures the City's lithium-ion batteries in Indiana, and it has also contracted to supply its batteries to 60 percent of Think City's European vehicles. Most interesting is that Ener1 is an investor in Think, and the U.S. government has invested in Ener1.

Ener1 received $118.5 million in federal funds as part of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and White House-backed program to promote high-tech battery manufacturing in the U.S The program consisting of $2.4 billion in U.S. funds doled out to 48 battery manufacturing companies in exchange for matched private investments also totaling $2.4 billion. Ener1 also received $70 million in the form of tax incentives from Indiana and local governments.

So the cars represent the fruition of a lot of nudges from both the federal government and the Indiana state government to drum up green-collar U.S. jobs and investment in manufacturing.

Indiana will use the 15 City cars in its state fleet, and voluntarily have them monitored as part of Project Plug-In, an initiative to study the consumption habits connected with use of electric cars as well as their effect on the electrical grid.

The Think City has a top speed of 60 mph, gets up to 112 miles on a single battery charge, and takes approximately 15 minutes to recharge up to 80 percent capacity when using a fast-charging station, longer when charged from a home outlet, according to Think statistics.

That American-made battery convenience will come at a cost. It's estimated that the Think City will initially be sold in the U.S. for $34,000.