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E-M:/ New Labor-Environmental Partnership Announces Joint Support forthe Ford Escape Hybrid

Title: New Labor-Environmental Partnership Announces Joint Suppor
For Immediate Release:                                 
August 4, 2004

New Labor-Environmental Partnership Announces Joint Support for the Ford Escape Hybrid
First U.S.-Made Hybrid Promotes UAW Jobs and Cleaner Environment

For More Information:  
Jeff Gearhart, Ecology Center, 734-663-2400, x117 or 248-467-9532 (cell)
Dave Hamilton, Sierra Club, 202-548-6595, 703-517-0798 (cell)
Mike Perry, UAW Local 249, 816-454-6333
Michael Shellenberger, Apollo Alliance, 510-525-9900

KANSAS CITY, MO-Labor and environmental leaders joined together today to announce an unprecedented partnership of autoworkers and green advocates to support fuel-efficient vehicles and technologies. The group praised the launch of the Ford Escape Hybrid, calling it key to the future of the domestic auto industry. 

"The launch of Ford's Escape Hybrid is bringing together two groups-autoworkers and environmentalists- who have not always seen eye-to-eye in the past," said Mike Perry, President of UAW Local 249. "But this partnership is more important now than ever. The introduction of U.S.-made hybrids and other fuel-efficient technologies are essential to staying competitive, which will help the industry create and preserve good union jobs while also protecting the environment."

Members of UAW Local 249 will manufacture the Escape Hybrid at the Ford Kansas City Assembly plant, which employs over 5,600 UAW members.

"The Escape Hybrid is a winner for both jobs and the environment," said Charles Griffith, Auto Project Director of the Michigan-based Ecology Center. "There is enormous potential for revitalizing auto manufacturing in the nation's heartland, while at the same time making positive environmental steps to reduce the release of greenhouse gases and to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Environmental concern and supporting good union jobs can now go hand-in-hand."

"Now is the time for the U.S. auto industry to take advantage of the hybrid market in America," added David Hamilton, Director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program." There's strong consumer demand for vehicles that use less gasoline, including SUVs, and the launch of the Hybrid Escape shows that we have the technology to give consumers the clean, fuel efficient cars they want."

The introduction of the new Escape Hybrid will make Ford the first domestic U.S. automaker to introduce hybrid-electric technology to the mainstream market, and also the first in the popular small SUV segment. Demand for foreign-made hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic have outstripped supply in the U.S. during the past two years. U.S. registrations for hybrid vehicles jumped 26 percent last year, to 43,435, according to figures from R.L. Polk & Co., which collects and interprets automotive information. Hybrid sales are expected to nearly double this year, to more than 70,000.

The event also kicked off the Green Machines Tour, which is bringing together labor, environmental organizations, and the auto industry to promote hybrids and other fuel-efficient technologies and to convince state and federal governments to increase their support for advanced vehicle technologies. The Green Machines Tour is a project of the Ecology Center.  More information can be found at:  http://www.greenmachinestour.org

"Ford's new hybrid SUV demonstrates that American ingenuity is the solution to inventing our way out of our oil addiction," said Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), board member of the Apollo Alliance. "But companies like Ford can't do it alone. We need the American government step up to the plate and make strategic investments to spur private-sector development of clean energy and efficiency technologies like hybrid engines. We need a new Apollo project that will free us from oil and create millions of new jobs over the next

Environmental and labor leaders also supported the role of other energy efficient technologies, as well as new policies that encourage major new investments in energy-efficient technologies.  Leaders discussed the need for new manufacturing tax credits and other policies that can help to promote new products and industries in energy-efficiency. 

The Escape Hybrid will achieve 30 to 36 miles per gallon, or more than a 50 percent improvement over the standard Escape.  It will also have extremely low emissions, achieving the California Advanced Technology Partially Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standard. Ford plans to produce approximately 25,000 Escape Hybrids by the end of 2005.


Members of the labor-environmental coalition organizing the Kansas City Green Machines event include: The Ecology Center, UAW Local 249, Sierra Club, United Steelworkers of America, Apollo Alliance, Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater Kansas City, and The Institute for Labor Studies.

The Ecology Center is a Michigan-based nonprofit environmental advocacy organization that works for healthy communities, clean products and clean production. Staff are organized as members of UAW Local 174.

Jeff Gearhart
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI  48104
(734)663-2400 x117
(734)663-2414 fx.