There is good news for people still out of work in Elkhart County. On Wednesday, electric car manufacturer "TH!NK" officially announced plans to add more than 70 new jobs to its Elkhart plant this year. The announcement comes only months after the company opened its doors in October.
"TH!NK" is new to the US, but it's been around for awhile. In fact, there are already 3500 electric "TH!NK" cars on European streets. With gas prices inching upward yet again, company leaders say their product is the cheapest option looking down the road.
Within a former fuel guzzling RV plant, 27 newly hired workers are the driving force, behind a car made only in red, black and blue, but with results as green as they get.
"We have ramped-up operations faster than we expected to,” "TH!NK" spokesman Brendan Prebo said.
Using standard home power, an eight to ten hour charge will get you 100 miles on the road.
"So this is a 240 volt charger and you just plug this into the car right here,” Prebo said as he demonstrated charging the vehicle.
"There are zero emissions that come out of these vehicles. They're very easy and fun to drive and they are cheap to run,” "TH!NK" manufacturing director Karl Turner added.
"We saw a 100 year reign of the classic internal combustion engine vehicle, but I think electric vehicles are making a comeback,” Prebo added.
That anticipated ‘comeback’ has rushed plans to fill "TH!NK’s” 205,000 square foot Elkhart factory with more production lines that are set to begin in May.
The growth means more money and more jobs for Elkhart County.
"Yeah I had been laid off for about a year,” "TH!NK” employee Josh Medord said as he worked the production line. "The ability to come in and start at the ground level of a company and hopefully grow with it from basically zero is amazing,” Medford added.
Like any fuel-based vehicle, multi-point tests are run, to keep drivers safe, even if the car’s facade is made of plastic. Underneath, a high-strength steel alloy frame support’s the car’s base with an aluminum frame protecting the car’s sides.
"I’m doing end of the line testing which is very important for the safety of the driver,” Justin Kauffman said as he ran a test on the car’s lock system.
The “TH!NK City’s” base market price is $34,000. While that may sound like a lot, company executives say it will save you in the long run.
If you put 12,000 miles on your car each year, a vehicle getting 20 miles to the gallon will cost you nearly $1900 in gas alone. However, the “TH!NK City” would only set you back $300 in electric bills, a $1600 difference!
If you’re on the fence, “TH!NK” executives advise you to reflect on your car's gas-ups, oil changes and maintenance in the past. That they say will make “TH!NK City” something to ‘think’ about.
"This is just the start for us; we have a bright and rosy future ahead,” Turner concluded.
Company leaders hope to make 2500 hundred vehicles in Elkhart in 2011. That is the catalyst behind the need to hire more than 70 new positions by December.