Ford stops crushing Th!nk EVs due to grassroots pressure; Norway awaits delivery
Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 @ 21:12:43 GMT
Topic: General

Andrew Michrowski writes: Solidarity for clean energy works.

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Paul West, Rainforest Action Network, (415) 398-4404 x319,

Ford stops crushing Th!nk EVs due to grassroots pressure; Norway awaits delivery.

  • More U.S. EV funerals expected until Ford takes action.
  • Activists demand zero-emission cars and call on Ford to stop misleading the public about EVs.
  • Bill Ford opposes California plan to encourage fuel-efficiency.

San Francisco – Following a week of intense international grassroots pressure, Ford Motor Company’s U.S. fleet of Norwegian-produced Th!nk electric vehicles (EV) may soon be headed home to fill waiting list orders for the popular zero emission cars. The decision marks an abrupt u-turn by Ford which had been ignoring letters of interest from automakers Elbil Norge and Th!nk Nordic and the Norwegian Minister of Transportation. At the same time, Bill Ford, Jr. wrote a letter to California governor Arnold Schwartzenegger opposing a proposed law that would encourage purchases of the most fuel-efficient passenger cars. U.S. and Norwegian citizen groups expect an action plan from Ford on the Th!nk EVs by September 15.

In an August 27 letter concerning the Th!nk EV controversy to Norwegian Minister of Transportation Torhild Skogsholm, Ford conceded that “it is very clear to us that there is a high demand for these vehicles in Norway, not in the least because of the high priority and support your government has given to environmentally friendly transport technology.” Ingvar Sviggum, a vice president of Ford Europe confirmed, “It is with pleasure that I am able to inform you that we have, with immediate effect, stopped any further scrapping of these vehicles.” The letter acknowledged the commitment made by Ford earlier last week in meetings with Global Exchange, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network.

In an August 27 press statement issued in response to Ford’s letter, Torhild Skogsholm wrote, “I expect Ford will do what is necessary to bring these cars to Norway, and I have asked them to keep me informed on what they are doing. For me this matter is not over today. It is over the day these cars drive on Norwegian roads.” She emphasizes, “It is pointless to destroy more than 400 fully functional and environmentally friendly cars. There is a great demand for these cars here in Norway, and they can contribute to cleaner air and less pollution in our cities.”

Environmental, EV and human rights activists have now joined forces to demand that Ford commit to a zero emissions future and stop misleading the public about the role that current EV technology can play to reduce deadly greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. The grassroots coalition warns Ford and other automakers to expect more public protests as reluctant drivers are forced to turn over other EV models such as the Ford Ranger. Auto industry lobbying gutted California’s progressive Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate, abruptly ending U.S. EV programs in 2002. From public protests to editorial cartoons, the Th!nk EV controversy is making news throughout Europe.

“Electric vehicles offer a glimpse into what a completely zero-emission auto fleet could look like,” said Jason Mark, Clean Car Campaigner at the human rights group Global Exchange. “If we are going to be serious about breaking our oil addiction, we need to begin nurturing existing solutions such as electric vehicles.”

“Bill Ford, Jr. portrays himself publicly as an environmentalist while he is working behind the scenes in California to oppose new legislation that would encourage fuel-efficiency,” said Jennifer Krill, director of the Zero Emissions Campaign at Rainforest Action Network. “If Ford wants to green the blue oval, it will have to do more than advertise its Rouge River F150 plant and make a few thousand hybrid SUVs. The fact remains that Ford is still at the bottom of the barrel on fuel efficiency and will remain there until its cars and trucks are as green as its marketing.”
“EVs are a perfect solution in places like Norway and California where access to solar, hydro and wind power is a public priority,” said Sherry Boschert, a former Th!nk EV driver in California. “I'm pleased that Ford is coming to its senses regarding the fate of these EVs, but it shouldn’t take an international grassroots movement to motivate U.S. auto makers to do everything possible to promote zero emission cars. If Ford marketed and lobbied for zero emission EVs the way it has for gas guzzling SUVs, it could revolutionize urban and suburban transportation.”
"If Ford really wishes to produce environmentally friendly zero emission vehicles for the mass market, they should stop hiding behind empty talk about fuel cells that still are at the pilot stage, while still producing large numbers of heavy and inefficient fossil fuel vehicles,” stated Truls Gulowsen, a campaigner for Greenpeace Norway. “Ford should rather do as Henry Ford would have done, continuously improve efficiency and establish mass production of the most modern zero emissions technology that is already available today - modern battery electric vehicles - instead of shutting it down.”

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