Electric car maker Think says it has completed a US$40m equity increase to support further product development and planned expansion into North American markets.

The firm says that with the new equity it is now fully funded and expects to become cash-flow positive in 2011.

“The new equity round will help Think take full advantage of the rapid growth of zero emissions vehicles around the world,” said CEO Richard Canny. “The electric vehicle’s time has arrived, and we are ready to take a leading role among the world’s first global EV makers.”

Headquartered in Norway, Think has raised a total of US$87m since last August, when it started a new phase of production with strategic partner Valmet Automotive of Finland, and has invested heavily in new product development in Europe and Asia. 

In January, Think North America announced a new manufacturing facility in Elkhart, Indiana, and recently completed the initial phase of due diligence for a low-cost, long-term loan with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to help fund the North American expansion.

“This last round of equity marks a powerful vote of confidence by Think’s investors at a time when world capital markets are under great stress,” Canny said.  “Completing our funding requirements will allow us to maintain momentum, accelerate key new initiatives and ensure that we capitalise on our first-to-market advantage.”

The Think City will go on sale in the US later this year. “While other companies have announced future production plans,” Canny commented, “Think has a proven electric vehicle in mass production today, and the benefit of 30 million miles of real-world EV experience over our 20-year history.”

The investment round was co-led by RockPort Capital Partners, an investment fund co-located in Boston and Menlo Park, Calif., specialising in  energy and clean technology, and Ener1 Inc., the parent company of advanced battery manufacturer EnerDel. Rockport Capital and Ener1 each increased its investment in Think by US$12.5 million. All of Think’s shareholders participated in the equity round.

“Our additional investment reflects our confidence in Think as exceptionally well-positioned for success with a proven product and leading technology in electric drive systems,” said Wilber James, co-managing general partner of Rockport Capital.

Think also announced two changes to its Board of Directors. Gassenheimer was named Chairman of the Board, effective immediately. Incumbent Chairman Reidar Langmo was named Vice Chairman.

Canny said that with the closing of the equity funding, Think will now pull forward right-hand-drive products for markets such as Japan and the UK.