Ford Rethinks Destruction of TH!NK Fleet

In response to pressure from environmental groups and the Norwegian government, Ford Motor Company decided last week to spare 400 electric vehicles from the wrecking ball. The futuristic vehicles will be sent back to Norway, their country of origin, for resale to willing consumers.

Ford had leased the vehicles to American customers for a three-year trial period. As those leases closed out, Ford decided not to seek federal approval for renewing them and focused its environmentally friendly production efforts on developing hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles. The company’s much-anticipated hybrid SUV, the Ford Escape, is just hitting showroom floors this fall.

Upon hearing that Ford planned to destroy its TH!NK fleet, a coalition of environmental groups including Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network and Global Exchange launched a campaign in concert with the Norwegian Transportation Ministry to save the cars.

“It is pointless to destroy more than 400 fully functional and environmentally friendly cars,” says Norwegian Transportation Minister Torhild Skogsholm. “There is a great demand for these cars here in Norway, and they can contribute to cleaner air and less pollution in our cities.”

Ford’s partnership with Norwegian automaker TH!NK Nordic, which built the electric cars in dispute, ended in 2002. Ford officials said at the time that long charge times and short ranges made the vehicles impractical for American drivers.