- <forwarded from Paul Scott at PlugInAmerica.com>
- This is a fascinating development in the struggling auto industry. Autoworkers at a Ford plant in Minnesota have come up with a plan to save their jobs. The plant which employs 1900 is going to be shut down by Ford in its continuing effort to slim down after the company lost $7 billion last year.
- Members of the United Auto Workers union plan to save their jobs by developing an electric version of the Ford Ranger in time to put on display this summer. Minnesota Public Radio reports that the man with the plan, inventor BobAlbertson, says they're looking at making gas-to-electric conversion kits that can be retro-fitted and the dream is to convince someone to save factory jobs by making electric Rangers.
- The UAW's Gary Muenzhuber says that union leaders are excited about the plan, adding "We really feel that this is something that will grab the eye of somebody. Maybe not Ford, we're just hoping we can do something to save this plant." He takes the view that, even if the manufacture takes place elsewhere, at least it saves jobs.
- Can you believe that the auto industry isn't interested? According to analyst Dave Cole who chairs the Center for Automotive Research, it isn't.He's putting his money on GM's hybrids. Ford has apparently already dabbled with an electric Ranger, but it only managed 65 miles range and was canceled after just a few years of production. Cole says the biggest obstacle to preserving jobs in the auto industry is overcapacity. He estimates that there's currently capacity to make 85 million cars and trucks annually and the sales rate is about 65 million. But I would have thought it's going to be much more than that as China's automarket kicks off.
- The UAW boys are going ahead with their prototype anyway, so good luck to them. They can see where the market's going even if their bosses can't. I'm sure this is just one of many electric car initiatives that will be born from the shop floor. Such interesting times. If I were on the UAW team I'd have a hybrid prototype in development just in case. And maybe they should call Bill Joy, the ex-Sun Microsystems VC investment advisor. It's people like him who really understand where things are going.
 ElectricDrive Specs
Data from http://electricdrive.org
Overall Length (in.): 187.8
Overall Width (in.): 69.4
Overall Height (in.): 65.6
Wheel Base (in.): 112
Curb Weight (lbs.): PbA - 4,936/NiMH - 4,196
Payload (lbs.): PbA - 650 lbs./NiMH - 1,250 lbs.
Number of Occupants: 3 passengers
Motor Type: 3 Phase AC
Horsepower: 90 hp
Power: 67 kW
Energy Capacity: PbA - 23 kWh/NiMH - 26 kWh
Battery Type: PbA/NiMH
Battery Modules: PbA - 39/NiMH - 25
Recharging Specifications: Conductive Charging - 240v/30 amp
Suspension: Front - A Arms/ Rear - Leaf Spring
Steering: Electro-Hydraulic Power
Air Bags: Driver and passenger side
Tires: Low-Rolling Resistance
Front - Disc
Rear - Disc Regenerative
Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS): 4-Wheel
Equipped Air Conditioning/Heater: Standard
Audio System (AM/FM/CD): AM/FM Cassette
Range: PbA - 50 miles/ Ni-MH 65-85 miles
Acceleration: 0 - 50 mph in 12.5 seconds
Maximum Speed: 75 mph
Recharging Time: N/A
Ford Motor Company
Retail and fleet