Ford Crushing Clean Car Line

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Ford Motor Company is sending its Norway factory produced TH!NK to the crusher, despite Norwegian offer to purchase the EVs for $1 million. At and average of 18 mpg, Ford is in last place of the major automobile manufacturers in its overall fleet fuel efficiency.

Monday in San Francisco and Tuesday in Oslo, Global Exchange, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and an international grassroots coalition protested Ford Motor Company's plans to destroy all of its TH!NK zero emission electric vehicles (EV) in the United States, the most fuel efficient cars in its fleet.

The transatlantic actions are the latest from Jumpstart Ford, the global grassroots movement to end Ford's five year oil binge and compel America's worst-ranked automaker to produce a fleet of environmentally ethical, zero emissions vehicles.

In a somber noontime ceremony at S&C Ford in San Francisco, mourners in black veils payed last respects to flag-draped Ford TH!NK EVs honoring the clean car technology for its 34-month long service in the global movement to save Earth's climate from deadly greenhouse gas emissions. Veterans for Peace will facilitated a Military Funeral Honors ceremony that included the playing of Taps and the folding and presenting of a burial flags to grieving TH!NK EV owners.

The Ford TH!NK funeral is in response to the American automaker's refusal to accept repeated offers from Elbil Norge, a Norwegian EV car manufacturer, to purchase the zero emission vehicles to meet growing consumer demand in Norway, a nation powered almost entirely by renewable electricity. Ford's August 2002 decision to shut down its EV program and destroy the U.S. TH!NK fleet followed the auto industry's gutting of California's zero emission mandate in June 2002.

"Ford is pulling the plug on the only cars in its gas guzzling fleet that don't produce deadly greenhouse gas emissions," said Jennifer Krill, director of the Zero Emissions Campaign at Rainforest Action Network. "By crushing these beloved cars and ending its EV program, Ford is shattering the new American dream for an energy independent future. EVs are the perfect solution for progressive places like Norway and Northern California where reliable sources of renewable energy are on the rise. In light of mounting evidence that tailpipe emissions are a leading contributor to catastrophic climate change, Ford's addiction to oil is an environmental crime. Ford should manufacture and market environmentally ethical EVs as aggressively as it has pushed its oil addicted SUVs. Ford's decision to crush perfectly reliable zero emission vehicles proves once again that it is more interested in greenwashing gas-guzzlers than innovating an emission free future. The TH!NK EV is a casualty of Ford's oil addiction."

"The TH!NK EVs were produced in Norway, and Norwegians want them back," said Truls Gulowsen of Greenpeace in Norway. "It is wrong for Ford to crush these cars. A Norwegian company has even offered Ford a million dollars to purchase the TH!NKs but has so far received nothing but arrogant silence. This shows that Ford has other motives than environmental protection and sound business principles."

"Ford needs to think straight and realize that pure electric vehicles can play an important role in breaking the company's oil addiction," said Jason Mark, clean car campaigner at the human rights group Global Exchange. "It seems that Ford isn't thinking at all. Why would the company wantonly destroy these vehicles when drivers here in the US and in Europe are begging to keep them?"

"I leased a Ford TH!NK in November, 2001 at S&C Ford in San Francisco," said TH!NK driver Marc Geller. "In repeated discussions between June and November 2001 leading up to my decision to lease the 2001 TH!NK, Frank Ginotti, S & C Ford Fleet Sales, told me the 2003 model would be available for purchase. I followed Ford's progress, including photos of the new model on the assembly line in Norway, its introduction at the 2002 Los Angeles and New York Auto Shows and its appearance in the 2003 Ford Fleet Guide. Ford broke its promise to me and hundreds of others who leased the TH!NK."

"If automakers don't reduce smog-forming emissions, greenhouse gases and the need for petroleum, I believe we won't be in business," said Fujio Cho, president of Toyota in The New York Times.

Ford Motor Company is America's oil addict. According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average fuel efficiency of Ford cars and trucks today is 18.8 mpg, dead last among the top six automakers for the fifth consecutive year. From subcompacts to SUVs, Ford's current fleet of cars and trucks gets fewer miles per gallon on average than its Model-T did 80 years ago. Ford's widely touted 'eco-friendly' Rouge River plant features a water-preserving green roof, yet manufactures 280,000 gas-guzzling F-150s a year, generating up to 100 tons of atmospheric carbon a piece over each truck's lifetime. Marketed as "the first American hybrid," Ford's so-called 'no compromise' Escape represents less than one half of one percent of its fleet and will have virtually no impact on its last place fuel efficiency ranking. In 2000, Ford promised to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet of SUVs 25 percent by 2005. In 2003, the company announced its intention to break that promise. Despite waiting lists for zero emissions cars, Ford has ended all programs, and blamed consumers for its lack of innovation.

As a result of the protests, Greenpeace will be meeting with Ford Europe and Ford Norway on Thursday.

The TH!NK EVs are the first mass produced car in Norwegian history and have become a national symbol of pride and progress for the role they play in reducing air pollution and ending oil addiction.

Global Exchange (http://www.globalexchange.org), Greenpeace (http://www.greenpeace.no) and Rainforest Action Network (http://www.ran.org) are members of an international grassroots movement calling on Ford to commit to achieve a fleet-wide average of 50 MPG by 2010 and eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2020. For more information, please visit http://www.JumpStartFord.com.

PUBLICATION: The above story is published at http://pesn.com/2004/08/24/6900037_Ford_Crushing_Clean_Cars/

SOURCE: Rainforest Action Network

Contact

*Paul West, Rainforest Action Network, (415) 398-4404 x319, media@ran.org

*Toben Dilworth, (415) 596-6051 (on-site mobile)

*Ford Motor Company

http://www.ford.com/en/support/contactUs.htm

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Sterling D. Allan