Th!nk Again: Ford Does a U-Turn

Feature story - September 17, 2004
Following a meeting yesterday with the Norwegian Transport Minister, Ford Europe has confirmed it will not scrap its US fleet of zero emission electric cars, but instead send them to eager customers in Norway.

Ford reverses plans to crush all its electric Th!nk cars. Ford had planned on crushing this environmental solution because it succeeded in trashing the California legislation that encouraged their use.

Ford was planning to scrap their US fleet of electric Th!nk vehicles,but following pressure from us and other environmental groups, the carmanufacturer has changed its mind. Last month, our activists occupiedthe roof of Ford Norway's offices, prompting Norwegian Transport andCommunications Minister Torild Skogsholm to ask Ford to Th!nk again.

Now, 300 of the cars will now be shipped to Norway, and sold throughFord dealerships to eager customers. Ford has even thanked Greenpeacefor having brought this issue to their attention!

Ford had attempted to justify scrapping the cars by citing a lack ofUS government regulation, and have since claimed that some 180 of thecars have already been scrapped. This was despite the Th!nk car'spopularity with American consumers - there's been waiting lists to buythe cars since the hugely popular leasing period started in 2001.Zero-emission cars reduce urban smog, and when charged by electricityfrom renewable sources, they help fight the biggest threat to ourplanet: climate change. With rising oil prices causing increasedgasoline costs, they are also a sound economic choice. Popular, cleanand efficient, shouldn't this be part of the future of transport?

Ford's initial U-turn - which highlights how ludicrous the originalplan to crush the electric cars was - took little over a week. Weannounced it on September 1st, and it has taken another two weeks toget confirmation. The first batch of cars is due to arrive in Norway inNovember, thanks to shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen, with morecars to follow in 2005.

While this is all good news, it seems this corporate leopard doesn'tchange its oily spots so easily. Ford still has the most fossil fuelhungry fleet of cars in the US. In the same week it reversed thecrushing decision, Ford CEO Bill Ford wrote a letter to Californiagovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger opposing a proposed law that wouldencourage purchases of the most fuel-efficient cars.

While not scrapping electric cars is a start, Ford should now befocusing on is producing environmentally friendly, zero emissionvehicles for the mass market. Currently the company likes to market agreen image even though its current fleet of cars is actually lessefficient than the 80-year-old Model-T Ford!

Ford should stop hiding behind empty talk about experimental fuelcells, and instead do as Henry Ford would have done; continuouslyimprove efficiency and establish mass production of the most advancedzero emissions technology available today - modern battery electricvehicles.

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