Readers React To Th!nk Demise

Reader opinions

By EV World

As might be expected, EV World readers expressed strong opinions on Friday's news that Ford had cancelled the Th!nk program. Below are some of the emails we received.

Nick Carter, President, North Bay Chapter, Electric Auto Association
Maybe Ford wouldn't be experiencing such financial woes if it sold Th!nks rather than SUVs and big trucks? If they lose more than $5.5 billion with their current way of doing business, maybe they should change that. For one thing, moving towards a sustainable business model and selling Th!nks would be a part of that.

We have a Th!nk city that we've been driving for about 9 months, now approaching 5,000 miles. No problems - well a headlight bulb just went out...but apart from that it just works, day in and day out. We've done a 160+ mile trip and several trips to San Francisco from Santa Rosa which is about 55 miles with a huge hill. Cost to run about 1 penny per mile. Lifetime of the NiCds seems to be 10+ years, probably a lot more as far as I can tell.

Gavin Young
I was getting nervous when I noticed that Ford Th!nk web site showed that the expected delivery date had shifted from fall of 2002 to spring of 2003. I thought that car had an excellent chance, especially in California. Now I will have to pin my hopes on the Parade car of ATT Research and Development in Korea.

Do you think the demand for the Ford Th!nk was really too weak, or was Ford looking for demand high enough for a traditional Detroit assembly line?

Jon Garner
It was a good article until it came to your conclusion about the poor of the world.

Most of the starving people in the world are starving because of screwed up government or the government of their food supplier is screwed up. What is going on in Africa right now is a perfect example. We are the lucky people with plenty to eat and our choice of the way to get around and the money to get it. We have this because of a good government and rule of law. If the car companies are going to try and fight the CA EV law then a letter and email campaign from the CA voters is a way we can respond. People that are elected need two things, money and votes. They use the money to get the votes. All of the money in the world will not get you elected so the people can fight the big companies if they choose to. Also getting the national media interested in the story will do a lot to get the car companies in line because they don't want a black eye by looking like they aren't for clean air and water.

Russ Shreve
It would be a great education if William Clay Ford, Jr. said, "Hey Bill Moore, how about coming up to Detroit and running the Th!nk Program. All you have to do is make it profitable, stand up in front of our angry Stockholders and justify when you don't, make it comply with all Federal and State Laws, and guarantee we won't be sued into oblivion."

Charles McArthur
Oh, Capitalism, where art thou? First Ken Lay and his ilk allow their disguise to slip. Then Ford buys an electric car called the TH!NK, and then only months later (suprise, surprise, surprise!) says, OOOPS! Nobody wants it. Toss it in the Trash! He! He! He!) There goes another competitor to our SUV. Too bad!!!!

Bob Kampmann
I hope not, Bill but it wouldn't surprise me. Having worked for and retired from the State of California, I can honestly say that CARB is probably the most politically motivated and influenced of all the agencies here. The fact that GM and some of it's Central Valley dealers have negated the in Sacramento.

The fact that GM and some of it's Central Valley dealers have negated the 2003 ZEV mandate makes it obvious that until/if CARB gets some teeth and doesn't waffle, even the new tailpipe emissions legislation that CARB is supposed to write the rules on and implement will just be a waste of the taxpayer's money and more importantly, will allow the automakers and Big Oil to continue to do what they want with no regard for the environment.

Dan Sturges
Th!nk was a good "seed", but had bad gardeners...

Ian Miller, Vivendi/Universal First off, excellent story. I'm afraid the facts as presented by Ford are completely untrue. I live in San Diego and our one Th!nk dealership had a good chunk of the total alotted vehicles of California. I think the number was about 40. Keep in mind this was not a full launch of the vehicle, but a "pilot program" and Ford treated it as such. Marketing of the vehicle in San diego was virtually non-existent. They got a good deal of press due to the novel look of the vehicle's body, but that's about all the exposure they had.

I was a Th!nk city driver from november of 2001 to march 2002. it was hard as hell to figure out where to buy a vehicle. Once I found out where and how, I was quick to pick one up. The two AFV dealers at Pearson Ford are very informed, very motivated members of the AFV community and would be glad to give you an interview, I'm sure. They leased all their vehicles as far as I know and they are still getting requests for them... Ifail to see how that is a lack of interest...

Anyway, I drive a Toyota RAV4 EV (after breaking lease on the Th!nk) and I fear that Toyota will follow suit with Th!nk and the EV1. With a price tag of $42k it's expensive even for an early adopter like me. If this is the only BEV on the market, we're doomed...

Steve Stollman, LightWheels, Inc.
As Ford's only Think dealer for the last few years in New York, I received many calls from eager potential customers asking when they would be available and the reply from Ford was always "Not yet". In fact these mini-electric cars were never offered to the public for sale. The questions arise: How can Ford "discontinue" doing something that they never actually did, and what is the Times doing giving undeserved credibility to their incredible claim?

The same story downplayed DaimlerChrysler's current activities. In fact, for some time, they have been manufacturing and selling the all-electric GEM, almost identical to the Ford Think, and their Amenia New York dealer reports brisk sales. Unfortunately Ford only pretended to test our interest in lower speed, lighter, cleaner transportation. Maybe the public's disgust with sham accounting and corporate governance will translate into reduced tolerance for sham environmentalism, sham marketing and sham reporting too.

Dave Goldstein: President, EVA/DC and Program Development Associates
Holy Cow! And yet, I am not entirely surprised, either. Last Christmas, we happened to be visiting La Jolla, and on the way up the coast to visit relatives in LA, we stopped off in Carlsbad just to see what the TH!NK facility looked like.

The rather ordinary-looking two-story silver office building with a "TH!NK" sign on the second floor seemed strangely out of place in an office park and was, of course, deserted for the holidays. But what struck me was a big "For Lease" sign in front of the building, listing a real estate management company. I don't recall how many square feet they were advertising, but it appeared to be the entire building.

I sent a note to Bill Moore at EV World the next day, suggesting that there might be a story there. Bill called John Wallace, head of TH!NK, who denied that there were any problems or reductions in the TH!NK program and gave the excuse that they were just "subletting" some unused space on the 2nd floor, or something like that. It did not sit right with me, because the amount of space offered was quite large and seemed to me to represent the entire building. (Why did Ford lease all that space to begin with?)

During that trip I happened to visit a Ford dealership in LA where a friend of mine was having his TH!NK City in for maintenance after his mileage dropped and he got warning messages on the dash at about 2700 miles on the odometer.

There were 4 technicians working on the car when we got there, including two factory reps (one of whom I recognized,) and they were having a HELL of a time figuring out what was wrong with the car. This, despite the fact that they were using a custom "OBD-2" type diagnostic tool designed just for the TH!NK.

To make a long story short, I discovered that there had been lots of problems with the NiCad Euro TH!NKs, possibly related to the Battery Management System, and that even in the best of circumstances, these cars required the battery equivalent of a major oil change and tune up every 3,000 miles! (Batteries flushed, refilled with de-ionized tap water and run through a lengthy charge-discharge procedure that could take up to 2 days.)

My friend, Dennis' TH!nk was kept in the Ford shop for three weeks, during which he was NOT given a loaner. They finally "fixed" it by borrowing a battery pack from another TH!NK.

We knew the long-anticipated "US-version" of the City was supposed to have a different battery type -- speculation centering on sealed PbA (Lead-Acid) -- but the factory techs refused to answer any questions about this. (Not a good sign, in retrospect.) I also knew that the City's steel chassis was fairly heavy compared to the Toyota ecom or Nissan Hypermini (which use NiMH and Lithium-Ion respectively as well as aluminum and other light weight chassis and body materials) and that a PbA pack would represent added weight, reduced range and performance, and poorer ride quality (which was never a strong suite for the TH!nk to begin with!)

Recent announcements of delays in production due to "battery related problems" seemed to confirm my suspicions. And now this.

The real question that this begs is, "Will CARB ever get tough with these auto manufacturers and start handing out fines for noncompliance, or is CARB only a paper tiger?" Ford is now betting with GM and DaimlerChrysler -- who are doing their worst to make a bonfire of the ZEV regulations in the court system -- that Sacramento is a town built out of 'paper mache', and that sooner or later this will all go up in smoke.

Mark Huff's Eulogy to the Th!nk
On August 30th, 2002, there was a death that was little publicized. The funeral was eulogized by a corporate giant and only a few mourners attended the ceremony. There is a problem, though, and that was the cause of death. It was determined, by the "coroner", that it was, in fact, a murder! The guilty party...you and me and our government! The victim?....the little publicized "Th!nk" all-electric City Vehicle.

Ford Motor Company indicated it was pulling the plug on its Think electric vehicle division due to "poor customer demand and lack of government support" for the environmentally friendly cars. Can you imagine that? You and I did not "demand" an electric car and the government didn't "support" one...so we are being blamed for the "death".

At this point, I must stand up and ask Ford Motor Company a couple questions starting with "How could you spend 100 million dollars on further technology and come up with a car that only went 50 miles or so on a charge and would only go 50+ miles an hour?" I hate to criticize...but come on guys! Three years....one hundred million dollars?? It appears as though a great opportunity for a large scale production, environmentally-friendly automobile, economical, and actually life-altering to all humanity is now passing.

Am I being overly emotional?? Now I must say, I for one am not going to take responsibility for this death. I am innocent. If there was any opportunity to vote, or buy, or even see one...I wasn't given it. Anyone else fall into that category?

Now for my last question, and this may take some thinking..."Who is John Gault and where is his motor?" Farewell little Th!nk. Sorry to say I never knew you.

Times Article Viewed: 4440
Published: 02-Sep-2002

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