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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ford's Electric Car Project Ramped Up By Europeans: Meanwhile, Ford Shutters Ohio Plants And Dealerships

CLEVELAND (TDB) -- As Ford Motor Co.'s fortunes sink to a low point, the U.S. automaker has been forced to close dealerships and factories in Cincinnati and the Cleveland area. Meanwhile, European entrepreneurs backed by Silicon Valley investors have purchased the electric car project Ford abandoned in 2003. The Think City model (pictured above) -- which resembles a Smart Car powered by a battery -- is being manufactured in Norway. The factory is running. And the goal is to enter the U.S. market with a product that Ford walked away from after spending hundreds of millions for research and development. If a U.S. plant for Think does open, the aim is to put it in Southern California. Ohio economic development officials ought to start seeking out the project -- with $5 gas around the corner, the electric car that wasn't in Ford's future should be in Ohio's. From the LA Times:

"The company, (previously called Pivco) began in 1991 and by 1999 had built more than 1,000 small and charismatic electric runabouts, sold mostly in Norway (where you still see a few on the road). Then, in 1999, the company was bought by Yankee giant Ford Motor Co., which was scrambling at the time to comply with California's Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, essentially requiring automakers to build fleets of electric vehicles. Ford renamed the company Think Nordic and began a complete redesign of the car. When, in 2003, the American automakers succeeded in modifying California's mandate, Detroit's flirtation with electronic vehicles ended. General Motors Corp. famously killed the EV1 program, and Ford sold think to a Swiss electronics firm."

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