Ford on Thursday said it had agreed to sell its Think electric vehicle division to global electronics and engineering firm Kamkorp after its move earlier this year to sell on the unit due to poor demand, Reuters reported.

Reuters said that Ford paid $US23 million in 1999 for the Norway-based electric vehicle company Pivco Industries, renaming it Think or TH!NK.

Ford has subsequently invested $100 million in the technology, in response to environmental regulations on fuel economy and emissions, Reuters added, but, like most of its rivals, has switched to the development of vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Reuters noted that, last August, Ford said it was pulling the plug on the Think program after disappointing sales and lack of government support for electric vehicle programmes reduced its mass market viability.

A Ford spokesman in Detroit declined to give Reuters a value on the deal, which was expected to be well below the original purchase price.

In October, Zap, a California maker of electric bikes and scooters, made a $10 million offer for Think, Reuters said.

Reuters said Ford’s abandonment of its electric car programme comes as part of its restructuring and cost cutting as it tries to recover from a $5.4 billion loss last year.

According to Reuters, Singapore-based KamKorp has a significant stake in electric vehicles and is expected to continue developing electric cars.

Ford pulled the plug on Think just as it had finished developing a new model, Reuters noted.

Reuters said Think has already produced more than 1,000 of its two-seater City hatchbacks, which have a range of about 53 miles (85 km) in city driving and require up to six hours for a recharge, while the Think Neighbour, a golfcart-like vehicle with a top speed of about 25 miles per hour, started production at a Ford plant in Detroit in autumn last year.

Reuters noted that Ford originally said it could make up to 10,000 Think Neighbour vehicles annually but only about 2,000 have been built so far this year, and the company plans to wind down production.