Ford Ranger EV Drivers Resist Repossession

‘Car-sitters’ protest Ford’s confiscation and destruction of zero-emission, zero-oil Ranger EV trucks.
EV drivers buckle-in to hold Ford to its promise to sell Ranger EVs to loyal lessees.
Supporters call on Ford to revive its EV program.

Sacramento – Today in Sacramento, Ford electric vehicle (EV) drivers, climate protection advocates, healthcare professionals, solar energy experts and human rights and peace activists will begin an ‘EV vigil’ to protest Ford Motor Company’s confiscation and destruction of its all-electric, zero-emission Ranger pickup trucks. Inspired by civil rights sit-ins and powered by a 5,000-watt mobile solar array, citizens for clean cars are prepared to buckle-in for an extended ‘car sit’ over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend at Downtown Ford in Sacramento. EV drivers Dave and Heather Bernikoff-Raboy, Bill Korthoff and supporters will resist the repossession of their Ford Ranger EVs and demand that Ford keep its original promise to sell the petroleum-free, pollution-free pickups to loyal California lessees.

At an on-site press conference at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, speakers will call on America’s worst ranked automaker to revive its EV program and immediately implement existing technology to improve the bottom-of-the-barrel fuel efficiency of the rest of its gas guzzling fleet.

WHO
Dave Bernikoff-Raboy, California rancher/Ford Ranger EV driver
Heather Bernifkoff-Raboy, healthcare professional/Ford Ranger EV driver
Bill Korthoff, solar energy expert/Ford Ranger EV driver
Peter Keat, director, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Todd Kerschaw, Peace Action Sacrament-Yolo
Jason Mark, clean car campaigner, Global Exchange
Jennifer Krill, zero emissions director, Rainforest Action Network

WHAT
EV ‘car sit’ vigil underway now
On-site press conference from the bed of two Ford Ranger EVs

WHEN
Saturday, January 15, 2004
10:00 a.m.: press conference

WHERE
Downtown Ford, 525 North 16th Street & Bafler Street, Sacramento

Yet another broken promise

California rancher David Raboy acquired his Ranger EV in 2001 through Ford Motor Company’s GreenLease program. In a January 23, 2004 letter to Mr. Raboy regarding “lease end responsibilities and alternatives,” Ford offered him the option “to make arrangements to purchase the leased vehicle” stating “Ford Credit can finance the purchase.” Mr. Raboy sent a certified letter accepting the offer of sale while Ford continued to deposit recurring payments beyond the lease expiration date. Then, in a November 18, 2004 letter to Mr. Raboy, Ford broke its promise and reneged on its offer stating “Unfortunately, there is no possibility to extend your lease or for you to purchase your vehicle” and recommended that Mr. Raboy “consider the Ford Escape Hybrid as an alternative.” Mr. Raboy reported the matter to California attorney general Bill Lockyer’s office in phone calls on December 20, 23 and 30, 2004, and with a certified letter on January 6, 2005. Mr. Raboy’s Ranger EV was fully powered by a solar system on his Northern California ranch. (Copies of correspondence and proof of payments are available upon request.)

Ford fights progress

The Ranger EV repossession is the latest in Ford’s ongoing assault on federal and state efforts to improve emissions standards and implement fuel efficiency market incentives like California’s progressive new law allowing carpool lane access to hybrids that achieve at least 45 miles per gallon, a standard that not one Ford model meets. In late 2003, Ford supported the filing of a federal lawsuit to overturn California’s popular new vehicle emissions standards, the nation’s first-ever rules to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions linked to global warming and the most advanced automotive GHG reduction targets in the world.

America’s oil addict

“Automaker Rankings 2004,” a recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, ranks Ford as having “the absolute worst heat-trapping gas emissions performance of all the Big Six automakers.” According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the overall average fuel efficiency of Ford’s fleet today is 18.8 mpg, dead last among the major automakers for the fifth consecutive year. Since the oil crisis of the 1970s, Ford has ranked worst in overall fuel efficiency of all major automakers for 20 out of the last 30 years. From subcompacts to SUVs, Ford’s current car and truck fleet gets fewer miles per gallon on average today than its Model-T did 80 years ago. Ford’s widely touted ‘eco-friendly’ Rouge River plant features a water-preserving green roof, yet manufactures 280,000 gas-guzzling F-150s a year, each truck generating up to 100 tons of atmospheric carbon over its lifetime. Marketed as “the first American hybrid,” Ford’s so-called ‘no compromise’ Escape represents less than one half of one percent of its fleet and will have virtually no impact on its last place fuel efficiency ranking. On September 2, 2004, Niel Golightly, director of environmental strategies for Ford Motor Company, told USA Today, “Clearly, the entire industry could build nothing but zero emissions cars today if it wanted to.”

Supporting statements

“My all-electric Ford Ranger hauls more weight that my three-quarter ton Chevy with a 350 internal combustion engine,” says California rancher and Ranger EV driver Dave Raboy. “Since I have solar panels, my cost to run the truck is almost nothing. In three and a half years it has required no maintenance, no oil and no gas. I feel good driving by gas stations and not consuming oil extracted from conflict regions like the Middle East or fragile ecosystems like the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. People stop me on the street all the time and ask how to get their own electric pick up truck. When I tell them that Ford is refusing to sell me mine and crushing the rest its EVs, they are infuriated.”

“I am outraged by the termination of Ford’s electric vehicle program,” said California healthcare professional Heather Bernikoff-Raboy. “EVs do not have a tailpipe and do not emit smog forming pollutants or greenhouse gasses. It is criminally irresponsible to ignore skyrocketing asthma rates among children and adults. The central valley of California has the highest asthma rates in the state, 12 percent for children and 11 percent for adults. Fresno has a childhood prevalence rate almost double that of the statewide average. Pollution-free electric vehicles are a huge step in the right direction. The technology is practical and available now. Apparently Ford values its profits over the health of America’s children. Ford never marketed these vehicles like it did its other gas-guzzlers. Over my three and half years of driving an all-electric pickup truck, at least one hundred people asked me, “Where can I get one?”. And that’s just from one person driving one EV truck. Imagine where Ford’s EV program would be today if the company mass marketed EVs like they do SUVs.”

“If Ford were serious about breaking America’s oil addiction, it wouldn’t be trashing its fleet of zero-emission, zero-oil electric pickup trucks,” says Jason Mark, a clean car campaigner at the human rights group Global Exchange. “Ford needs to make a u-turn and restart its electric vehicle program.”

“Ford’s repossession of California’s Ranger EVs is highway robbery,” states Jennifer Krill, director of the Zero Emissions Campaign at Rainforest Action Network. “California taxpayers coughed up substantial subsidies and tax breaks to help the EPA’s worst ranked automaker comply with the state’s 2001 ZEV-mandate. Ford took taxpayer money, gutted the popular law, killed its EV program and crushed the only clean cars in its oil-addicted fleet. Ford’s oil binge is a danger to public health, human rights, national security and ecological sustainability. Hydrogen remains a tailpipe dream, and a handful of petroleum-powered hybrids is too little too late at this stage in the global climate crisis.
America needs EVs not SUVs.”

“Ford executives may be vegans and yogis as they claim, but the company’s repossession and destruction of all-electric, zero-emission cars and trucks is proof positive that Ford has fallen off the wagon,” said Sarah Connolly, an organizer with the Jumpstart Ford Campaign. “Solar powered EVs are an immediate solution to the persistent problem of Ford’s low fuel efficiency and high greenhouse gas emissions. Ford blames lack of consumer demand for killing its EV program because it is in denial that there were long waiting lists for EVs of every make and model. It’s time for Ford to pull away from the pump and plug in to petroleum-free energy.”

For more information about the movement to break America’s oil addiction and turn Ford in the right direction, please visit JumpstartFord.com.

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