Ford Will Sell Its Electric Pickup Trucks to Lessees

Detroit automaker reverses itself and will sell trucks to protestors for $1 each.

Published: 24-Jan-2005

SACRAMENTO — After a weeklong sit-in here by environmentalists, Ford Motor Co. announced Friday that it would halt plans to scrap its last surviving electric pickup trucks and instead sell them to customers.

The current going rate: $1.

A Ford spokeswoman said a deal was struck at that price with two customers who joined a demonstration at a Sacramento dealership this week to protest plans to repossess their leased electric Rangers.

Facing a swirl of media attention, Ford executives made a U-turn and sold the zero-emission pickups to the pair of electric vehicle aficionados: Mariposa County rancher Dave Raboy and William Korthof of Pomona.

"It's unfortunate it took this level of effort to get them to do the right thing," said Raboy, who had manned the picket line for most of the week.

Ford officials portrayed the deal as an effort by a big company to address the needs of a tiny group of consumers.

"We realize these folks are extremely passionate about their vehicles, and we've decided to work with them," said Cheryl Eberwein, a company spokeswoman. "This is Ford's effort to address the needs of very dedicated and devoted customers."

Eberwein said Ford would consider similar deals with other Ranger lessees "on a case-by-case basis."

The half-ton pickups represented the centerpiece of Ford's electric-vehicle pilot project during the 1990s. Of about 1,500 produced, most went to commercial fleets, while about 200 were leased to individuals and a few were sold outright.

But the Detroit automaker abandoned its EV foray in favor of gas hybrids and research into hydrogen fuel cells for the future.

Raboy said he has paid $22,000 in lease payments over the last three years, and thought the $1 price to buy his truck was more than fair.

The turnaround was the second time in recent months that Ford reversed course on plans to scrap electric vehicles. Last fall, it halted efforts to junk 350 TH!NK electric cars and instead sold the little vehicles back to a former subsidiary in Norway that made them.

Activists say they will hold an "EV parade" today in Sacramento to call on Ford to revive electric vehicle production and improve the environmental performance of its auto fleet.

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