ELKHART COUNTY — The high hopes for the county to become the electric car capital of the world seems to have lost momentum after THINK North America's parent company filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday.
Tom Atkinson said there were a number of reasons that stopped him from purchasing an electric vehicle.
"I find it hard to believe that I can run my blower in the winter, my defogger and heater, my stuff, and hope I can get to the U.P. mall without my battery dying," Atkinson said.
Perhaps it's the reason the high hopes for Elkhart County becoming the electric car capital of the world never panned out. But is there another reason?
"It's tough to produce, manufacture and sell electric vehicles," said Kyle Hannon, director of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.
Three companies: Navistar, Electric Motors Corporation and THINK North America brought new hope to the county. Each one operated in some degree, the growing pains were evident.
"It's kind of a rough world out there," Hannon said.
And the hard knocks kept coming. Wednesday, this automaker's parent company THINK Global filed for bankruptcy protection.
"I think we were looking for good news for a long time," said Hannon. "When THINK announced they were going to start production here, a lot of people were thinking this is it! This is it!"
In a statement, the company announced the bankruptcy process does not include THINK North America, but the court-appointed trustee will determine the future disposition of THINK’s assets.
Questions linger because of the uncertainty.
"I'm not sure we know enough about anything, other than it’s THINK Global," said Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder. "We have to be patient and see what happens."
Yoder said one thing is for sure: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It's a gamble.
"It's not easy for government," Yoder said. "Government likes 100 percent success.
"I'm not sure what the details are," Hannon said. "I've got to say people are disappointed. People really wanted to see success with this new industry in town."