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Ford of Europe Pulls Plug on Th!nk Car

OSLO, Norway, September 2, 2002 (ENS) - Under severe financial pressure in its American heartland, Ford Motor Company is pulling the plug on its Norway based electric vehicle division, Th!nk.

Friday's announcement marks the latest in a series of reverses for electric cars - General Motors and Honda both stopped making them three years ago, and most industry efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions are now focused on other technologies.

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Born in Norway, the Th!nk car seats two passengers and hits a top speed of 56 mph (Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company)
"There is a feeling that battery electric has been given its chance," said Roger Higman, senior transport campaigner at UK Friends of the Earth, which was instrumental in a project to pilot the Th!nk town car in London. "Ford now has to move forward with its hybrid program - and that is what we will be judging them on."

Tim Holmes, director of public affairs for Ford of Europe confirmed that the firm's energies would be channeled into hybrid and fuel cell technologies. "We feel we have given electric our best shot," he said.

The Norwegian government has expressed dismay at the closure and is keen that any company taking over the plant continues with the Th!nk project.

"We would like to keep a dialogue with the new company, but will not be providing any financial support," Oluf Ulseth, state secretary of the industry ministry told reporters.

The Th!nk brand was launched in 1999, when Ford took over an ailing electric vehicle company, then named Pivco Industries, and invested some 100 million euros in developing new technology. The Norwegian subsidiary only ever produced 1,050 electric cars.

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{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}



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