Think Hands EnerDel Exclusive U.S. Battery Deal, Heads for Faster Charging

Things just got a little cozier between Norwegian electric car company Think and one of its U.S. investors, Ener1 (s HEV). EnerDel, the battery-making subsidiary of Ener1 (s HEV), already had a major contract with Think to supply batteries for the company’s electric City model, as well as “supplier of choice” status. Now, in a press conference at the Washington Auto Show, Think has named EnerDel the exclusive battery supplier for Think City vehicles sold in the U.S. through 2012.

The automaker, which hopes to secure funding from the Department of Energy to set up manufacturing in the U.S., also announced a new partnership today with AeroVironment (s AV) to work on fast charging for the Think City. AeroVironment, which provides charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, will work with Think under the agreement on demonstration and commercial projects using AeroVironment’s Level 3 charging system (chargers are classified as Level 1, 2 or 3 based on how much power they can provide).

The Department of Energy says a charger is deemed “fast” if it can “charge an average electric vehicle battery pack in 30 minutes or less.” According to Think, the AeroVironment system will juice its City batteries up to an 80 percent charge in as little as 15 minutes.

This type of high-voltage rapid charging system will be critically important, Nissan’s Mark Perry said last year, for what he calls “destination” and “pathway” charging, at shopping centers and along major roadways, for example. The idea is that if you’re charging at home overnight or at work during the day, the high-voltage quick fix isn’t as necessary. But AeroVironment and Think plan to offer the fast-charge option as “a supplementary alternative for customers’ added sense of security and for fleets with daily mileage requirements exceeding the car’s range.”

Today’s deal with Think comes on the heels of AeroVironment winning a contract with Nissan (s NSANY) to provide home charging equipment and installations for the upcoming Nissan LEAF, announced earlier this month. AeroVironment spokesperson Steven Gitlin told the Los Angeles Business Journal at the time that the deal was a first for AeroVironment in the home charging space. “We’ve been working on electric vehicle technology for 20 years,” he said, “but are now ready to start seeing it used widely in homes.” As in the Nissan deal, AeroVironment’s charging systems for the Think City will be sold separately from the vehicle.

The exclusive battery deal highlights a difference between Think’s strategy in the U.S. and in the European market, where it offers customers two battery options: EnerDel’s lithium-ion battery, and a sodium-based battery made by Switzerland’s Mes-Dea and designed for use in very hot or very cold climates. According to Think’s announcement today, EnerDel will supply about 60 percent of the batteries for City vehicles sold in Europe.