Kleiner Perkins backs electric car project

TH!NK North America will initiate sales of its zero-emission electric vehicle in North America by 2009.

Cleantech-focussed venture firms RockPort Capital Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers have former a joint venture with Norwegian electric vehicle company Think Global to launch TH!NK North America. Financial details were not disclosed.

TH!NK North America intends to initiate sales of the fifth-generation electric vehicle TH!NK city in the North American market by 2009. Think’s next-generation electric vehicle, the TH!NK Ox was announced earlier this year and will begin production in 2010 and 2011.

Think has sold approximately 1,200 cars in Norway since late last year and is currently expanding its production capabilities to 10,000 cars per year.

“The TH!NK city is the world’s only crash-tested and highway-certified electric vehicle,” said Think Global chief executive Jan-Olaf Willums in a statement.

The car is a zero-emission, 95 percent recyclable vehicle that reaches a top speed of 65 miles (100 km) per hour and can drive up to 110 miles on a single charge. It is currently produced in Norway with international sales scheduled to begin in Scandinavia, Switzerland and France.

Kleiner Perkins’ greentech practice, which counts Al Gore among its partners, has made previous investments in clean vehicles including green sports car company Fisker Automotive in January 2008.

The Silicon Valley-based firm has invested in greentech since 1999. In February 2006, Kleiner Perkins closed its 12th fund on $600 million (€375 million) with $100 million earmarked for greentech.

RockPort Capital Partners is a cleantech and greentech venture capital firm investing exclusively in the energy and power, advanced materials and process and prevention technology sectors. The firm, which has offices in Boston, Massachusetts and Menlo Park, California, closed its second fund on $380 million in January 2006.

Previous related investments by RockPort include ISE, a supplier of hybrid drive systems for heavy duty vehicles, and SatCon Technology, a manufacturer of power products used for hybrid-electric vehicles among other products.