Ford scraps electric vehicle unit

DEARBORN, Michigan, Aug 30 (AFP) - Ford Motor Company said Friday it plans to scrap its TH!NK electric car division because of lacklustre demand and instead focus on environmentally friendly technology on fuel cell stacks. "There is limited customer demand for current battery electric vehicles," Ford vice president of product development Richard Parry-Jones said in a statement. The financially troubled number two US automaker said it will terminate production of the low-speed battery car in Detroit, Michigan by the end of the year, and is discussing the future of its Norway plant with employees and investors. The zero-emissions, rechargeable TH!NK vehicles came in two models, the TH!NK city, a two-seat urban compact car and TH!NK neighbor, an open-sided two seat cart. The car was manufactured in Oslo, Norway, while the cart was produced in Detroit.The company sold or leased about 1,000 units of the car, and leased or donated about 2,100 units of the neighbor. Parry-Jones said the automaker will focus on the development of hybrid and fuel cell technology henceforward. "The next generation of alternative fuel vehicles will deliver customers a no-compromise experience, such as the Hybrid Escape, which will be launched in 2003. "This vehicle draws heavily from our experience with battery electric vehicles in areas such as regenerative braking, battery management and drive train technology." ld/rl