Norwegian Government Refuses to Help Ford

September 24, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

The Norwegian government announced that it could not meet demands from Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI) to prevent the automaker from shutting down production on Norwegian-built, Th!nk electric vehicles. Ford had proposed that the government create a fund for the Oslo plant and order a fleet of the vehicles to keep the operation running.

Minister of Industry Ansgar Gabrielsen reported that he had written to Ford stating that Norway was willing to take other steps to stimulate demand, such as allowing electric cars to use bus lanes. "But the economic framework in the proposal from Ford is much too big for us to get involved. It is in the area of 600 to 700 million kroner (US$80 to US$93 million)."

The government had been under pressure from environmentalists, Th!nk owners and parts of the political opposition to rescue the electric car. In late August 2002, Ford announced it would stop selling electric cars in the US, and was prepared to withdraw from the Th!nk Nordic plant that makes the Th!nk City. The plant employs about 120 people and has produced just over 1,000 Th!nk City vehicles in all. Ford said the market for electric cars was too small and that it plans to focus on other technologies for cleaner-running cars and trucks, including hydrogen fuel cells and the gas-electric hybrid vehicles. Ford will decide whether to close the Norwegian plant by the end of November 2002.