Electric vehicle booster Zap has bid $10 million to save Ford Motor Co.'s plastic-bodied, battery-powered Think vehicle line.
Zap, based in Sebastopol, Calif., pledged to acquire all of Ford's electronic vehicle assets, including the Think City, through its wholly owned Voltage Vehicles.
``As far as we know, this is the only highway-capable [electric vehicle] made specifically as an EV,'' Zap Chairman Gary Starr said in an Oct. 31 telephone interview.
Ford announced in August it would shutter the Think operation, blaming poor sales. The plant in Aurskog, Norway, was capable of producing 5,000 vehicles annually, but the Ford unit sold only 1,000 over the City's two-year life.
A spokeswoman for the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker said the company could not comment on any discussions involving the possible sale of assets, and Zap said it had not heard back from Ford yet on the plan.
When Ford shut down the program, executives said motorists were not interested in pure electric vehicles, and Ford opted to invest more in hybrid and fuel-cell technology.
The closure did not sit well with fans of the Think City, including stockholders of Zap - formerly called Zap Power Systems. They brought up Ford's dismissal of the Think during Zap's Oct. 26 stockholder meeting, and proposed a purchase, Starr said.
Backers said the automaker had not given the car a real chance.
Ford had launched sales in Europe but introduced it in the United States less than a year ago, making the City available only through rental and only in select cities.
But in those cities, it did well.
``That's been the case in California,'' Starr said. ``The places that were renting them out were renting them all out, and they had people who wanted to buy them, but couldn't.''
Zap's bid includes both the City and the Think Neighbor, a limited-speed vehicle resembling a golf cart, as well as manufacturing capabilities.
Ford created the Think through its 1999 purchase of Norway's Pivco Industries AS, the company that created the car with a rotomolded, six-piece polyethylene body with an ABS roof.
Starr said Zap can do better with the Think because it is devoted to electric vehicles and can combine the technologies of the two cars with its own.
Zap stands for zero air pollution. The company makes and sells electric bicycles, scooters and low-speed vehicles, but the Think operation would be a major undertaking. Zap entered Chapter 11 in March, emerging three months later by merging with Voltage Vehicles and RAP Group.
Zap was expecting third-quarter sales of $2 million, compared with the $360,000 earned in the same quarter a year earlier.