Greenpeace activists scaled the walls of Ford's Norwegian headquarters on Tuesday to protest plans to destroy hundreds of non-polluting electric cars, the Associated Press (AP) reported, adding that, in late 2002, Ford pulled out of the Norwegian company Think Nordic, which builds electric cars, and announced it would stop selling electric vehicles in the United States.

The 14 activists climbed onto the roof of the building and its walls with banners reading "Ford: Don't Crush Think" to protest plans to destroy up to 400 used Think cars in the United States and Britain, the report said.

Ford had leased the Norwegian-built cars to customers for up to three years, as a test fleet in the United States, Niel Golightly, Ford's vice president for communications in Europe, told AP.

He reportedly said that it was never the intention for them to be used longer, because Ford only had permission from US federal authorities to test them in the United States for three years.

"We don't understand them proceeding with plans to destroy them when there are waiting lists of people interested in buying them," Greenpeace protest leader Truls Gulowsen told the Associated Press. He said the activists were demanding a meeting with senior Ford executives.

Greenpeace suspects Ford wants to eliminate competition to its traditional vehicles powered by fossil fuels, Gulowsen reportedly said.

However, according to AP, Golightly responded that the carmaker is actively seeking to find other technologies for cleaner-running cars and trucks, including hydrogen fuel cells and petrol-electric hybrid vehicles. He also said Ford, and most of the industry, has concluded that battery powered vehicles are not the answer.

Golightly told AP a number of small companies had offered to buy the vehicles, but that Ford concluded the cost of shipping them to Europe, converting the vehicles to national standards and refurbishing them would be too high.

One of the companies, Oslo-based El-Bil Norge, had made such an offer, and company spokesman Hans Kvistle told AP Ford did not even appear to have considered it. The company builds battery vehicles, and sells used ones.

The Think Nordic company was taken over by Kamkorp Microelectronics in 2002. About 1,000 of the vehicles have been built, the Associated Press added.