TH!NK again

Ford crushes 'Clean Cars', ramps up SUVs

Feature story - 24 August, 2004
The Ford motor company is scrapping its fleet of zero emission electric vehicles in the US. Not content with being the worst ranked motor company on fuel efficiency it has decided to plumb new depths by sending its most fuel efficient, zero emission Th!nk cars to the crushers.

Ford plans to crush all its electric Th!nk cars despite being offered US$1million for them. Ford is crushing this environmental solution because it succeeded in trashing the California legislation that encouraged their use.

Why is a global corporation courting even worse publicity and going back on numerous promises to improve the environmental credentials of its cars? The vehicle is popular with consumers - there were waiting lists to buy the cars after a hugely popular leasing period started in 2001. Zero-emission cars reduce urban smog. When charged by electricity from renewable sources, they help fight the biggest threat to our planet - climate change.

With record oil prices forcing gasoline prices up, they are also a sound economic choice. Popular, clean and efficient, shouldn't this be part of the future of transport rather than being reduced to small cubes of scrap?

Surprisingly, money doesn't seem to be the motivation. Even if Ford doesn't want the cars, a Norwegian firm has plenty of customers and has offered US$1 million for them. Ford hasn't even replied to the offer. So we've launched a campaign to tell Ford to send these cars to people who want them.

Could it be that Ford intends to prevent the emergence of a zero-emission electric vehicles industry? Ford originally brought the Norwegian Th!ink car company in 1999. However while Ford and other car companies produced electric vehicles they where working to gut the clean air regulations in California that made them viable.

This behind-the-scenes lobbying to halt progressive legislation is not the kind of thing that appears in the glossy, soft-focus company promo material. But it is a top priority of many US carmakers. Public statements instead highlighted the supposedly progressive work Ford was doing. In 2000 CEO William C Ford said: "Ford Motor Company also has been a leader in the development of clean-running alternative fuel vehicles. We are the world's leading producer and seller of electric vehicles. We've just launched an entire new brand - THINK."

But with the dirty work of killing the clean air regulation in California completed in 2002, Ford dumped its commitment to electric cars faster than you can say "SUV" and sold off Th!nk. This means business as usual for the automakers, producing bigger, thirstier cars every year without the burden of regulation in the US.

Ford's current fleet of cars is actually less efficient than the 80-year-old Model-T Ford. You read that right - 80 years of corporate 'leadership' at Ford has meant no better fuel efficiency than 1920's technology!

Electric cars are not the complete solution to the environmental problems of transport. But they are light years better than the current trend toward big gas-guzzlers that are helping to fuel global warming.

In the 21st century we need clean solutions to the problems of transport. Ford is trying to kill one of these solutions. It's time to tell Ford not to scrap the future.

More

Visit Jumpstartford.com - the campaign to improve the fuel efficiency of Ford cars.

Discuss this story on our discussion centre.