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Ford Electric-Vehicle Unit Moving to San Diego County


Ford Motor Co.'s Think Group electric-vehicle operation will relocate from Michigan to northern San Diego County later this year, becoming the third Ford unit to move to Southern California since 1998, the auto maker said Monday.

Think will market a line of electric bicycles, a low-speed neighborhood "mobility vehicle" and the City car, a commuter vehicle capable of highway speeds.

"Look at what the brand is all about--personal transportation, environmental sensitivity, being different and having some fun--California just leaps to mind," Think Group Executive Director John Wallace said of the move.

He said the new headquarters in Carlsbad also will oversee fuel-cell engineering and research at a facility in nearby Poway operated by Xcellsis, the fuel-cell development company started by Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Ballard Power Systems Inc. of Canada.

Think's core group of about 25 managers, planners and marketing specialists will make the move by the end of summer. Ultimately, Wallace said, Ford will employ about 45 at Think Group headquarters and nearly 100 at Xcellsis.

Other Ford businesses in the region are Lincoln Mercury and the North American unit of Premier Automotive Group, which are breaking ground this month on a combined headquarters in Irvine, and the North American headquarters of Japanese affiliate Mazda Motor.

Separately Monday, Lincoln Mercury President Mark Hutchins said he would like to move Lincoln's Dearborn, Mich.-based staff of about 800 product designers and engineers to Irvine by 2006.

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