The Th!nk City car's rotational molded body won't roll into U.S. showrooms for another year, but it already has caught the eye of a California-based alternative-transportation group. WestStart-CALSTART will give Ford Motor Co. its "Blue Sky Award" Feb. 24 at its Pasadena, Calif., offices, honoring Ford's support of the City vehicle.
The battery-powered car offers more than just an environmentally friendly power system, said Bill Van Amburg, vice president of communications and marketing for CALSTART. The car's thermoplastic skin and lightweight aluminum upper frame promise ease of recycling and production for automakers the world over.
"It's going to get a lot of notoriety," Van Amburg said in a Jan. 24 telephone interview. "If [Ford] can get it into the right segments, it can really take off."
Pivco Industries AS of Oslo, Norway, created the car, but did not have the money for full-scale production. Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford bought a majority ownership a year ago, then made the car a centerpiece in its Th!nk Mobility LLC group, introduced Jan. 10 during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Th!nk Mobility has orders for about 150 City cars, and plans to produce as many as 5,000 annually at its factory near Oslo.
CALSTART represents about 200 groups worldwide involved in advanced technology and alternative transportation, providing industry analysis and business incubator services. The Blue Sky Award is its annual honor for contributions to "advanced, sustainable transportation."
"We're very excited seeing a major automobile company involved in this," Van Amburg said.
But the award selection committee — made up of industry and environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists — was careful to note that the award was for Ford's backing of the City, not the company as a whole.
Ford's Excursion — a supersize sport utility vehicle — stands between Ford and the environmentalists, Van Amburg noted.
If Ford can sell the City for less than $20,000, it will be able to tap into a solid market base, Van Amburg said. The company will do even better if it can price it as an inexpensive second car. Ford has not announced a price yet for the City.
"That car is cuter and cuter the less expensive it is," he said.