OSLO, Norway -- Greenpeace activists scaled the walls of Ford Motor Co.'s Norwegian headquarters Tuesday to protest plans to destroy hundreds of non-polluting electric cars.
In late-2002, Ford pulled out of the Norwegian company Think Nordic, which builds electric cars, and announced it would stop selling electric vehicles in the United States.
The 14 activists climbed onto the roof of the building and its walls with banners reading "Ford: Don't Crush Think" to protest plans to destroy up to 400 used Think cars in the United States and Britain.
Greenpeace activists made their way onto the roof of the Ford headquarters in Kolbotn near Oslo, Norway, to protest Ford's plans to demolish 400 Norwegian produced 'Think' electric cars. Banner reads: 'Ford, don't crush Think.' Photo from Greenpeace via Scanpix. (AFP/Scanpix/HO)
Ford had leased the Norwegian-built cars to customers for up to three years, as a test fleet in the United States, said Niel Golightly, Ford's vice president for communications in Europe.
He said by telephone that it was never the intention for them to be used longer, because Ford only had permission from U.S. federal authorities to test them in the United States for three years.
"We don't understand them proceeding with plans to destroy them when there are waiting lists of people interested in buying them," Greenpeace protest leader Truls Gulowsen said. He said the activists were demanding a meeting with senior Ford executives.
Greenpeace suspects Ford wants to eliminate competition to its traditional vehicles powered by fossil fuels, Gulowsen said.
However, Golightly said the carmaker, based in Dearborn, Mich., is actively seeking to find other technologies for cleaner-running cars and trucks, including hydrogen fuel cells and the gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
He said Ford, and most of the industry, has concluded that battery powered vehicles are not the answer.
Golightly said a number of small companies had offered to buy the vehicles, but that Ford concluded the cost of shipping them to Europe, converting the vehicles to national standards and refurbishing them would be too high.
One of the companies, Oslo-based El-Bil Norge, had made such an offer, which company spokesman Hans Kvistle said Ford did not even appear to have considered. The company builds battery vehicles, and sells used ones.
The Think Nordic company was taken over by Kamkorp Microelectronics in 2002. About 1,000 of the vehicles have been built.
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