Not ready to give up on the historic Ford Plant on the Mississippi River in Highland Park, St. Paul officials are now asking Ford officials to consider building a new electric-powered commercial van at the plant.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Council Member Patrick Harris, who represents the area, sent letters today to Ford officials and those at Smith Electric Vehicles, urging them to consider the Ford Plant for construction of the Transit Connect vehicle in 2012.
Production at the plant has been much curtailed but isn’t scheduled to end completely until 2011.
Said the letters:
“The Saint Paul site presents a prime opportunity for a number of reasons:
1 . At this time, the planned closure date for the Saint Paul plant is mid-2011, when Ranger production ceases. Assuming retrofitting the plant would take approximately one year, the plant could be in full operation in 2012 to retrofit/assemble the Transit Connect.
2. Saint Paul and the Twin Cities region have a large, diverse and highly-skilled workforce to complement the knowledge and skills of UAW Local 879 members and other workers at the plant.
3. The University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies is involved in cutting-edge research on electric vehicle technologies and trends, providing a local resource and a unique education and training opportunity that could be centered in the site’s UAW-Ford-MnSCU Training Center.
4. The Canadian Pacific rail line can continue to serve as a low-cost and fuel-efficient transportation asset for the plant.
5. There is an opportunity to make the Saint Paul plant an international model of Ford’s commitment to green technologies and operations, in the proud tradition of the Ford Rouge site. Unique local assets make this possible including:
- the existing rail line providing low carbon transport;
- the adjacent hydro-power facility;
- strong potential and incentives for ground-source heating/cooling and solar in the area;
- opportunity for and existing studies identifying best practice stormwater management ideas for the site; and
- Ford’s legacy of operating the Saint Paul plant in harmony with and immediately adjacent to one of the Twin Cities’ best neighborhoods and the Mississippi River.”