Ford will use recycled plastic bottles from the upcoming North America International Auto Show in Detroit and Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in the seats of its Ford Focus Electric, as the automaker found a method to use recycled plastics in the polyester fiber used in the car's seat materials.
Ford is working with fabric-maker Unifi and its Repreve-branded polyester to integrate the use of plastic from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles into the seat materials. In all, Ford's looking to divert about 2 million plastic bottles from landfills for use in cars like the Focus Electric, which the automaker says will be its first vehicle whose interior is from "100 percent clean technology."
Ford's been looking to find ways to cut its carbon footprint through either recycled or renewable materials since at least 2001, when the company started its Biomaterials and Plastics Research team. In 2007, Ford started using soy-based foam in car seats on models such as the Ford Mustang and Lincoln Navigator, and since then has used the material in components such as deflector shields, cupholder inserts and floormats. And last October, Ford said it reached an agreement with Scotts Miracle-Gro to develop a way to use material for coconut husks for plastic reinforcement.
Ford in November started taking orders for the Focus Electric, the company's first mass-produced battery-electric vehicle. The Focus Electric will have an estimated 70-mile single-charge range that's similar to the EPA rating for the Leaf, though the company said it will take about half the time to fully recharge from a 240-volt station as the Leaf, and claims that the car will get a 100 mile-per-gallon-equivalent rating from the EPA. Ford is pricing the Focus Electric starting at $39,200, giving the car an out-of-pocket cost of as low as $31,700 once the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles is factored in. That puts the Focus Electric base price at $4,000 more than the Nissan Leaf and about $10,000 more than the Mitsubishi i (sold as the i-MiEV overseas) city EV, which debuted in the U.S. last November.
With the Focus Electric, the absence of gasoline or diesel engine and its outstanding aerodynamics lead to a remarkably quiet, comfortable in-car experience. Focus Electric also is the industry's first car to feature 100 percent sustainable clean technologies in interior materials, including seat fabrics with REPREVE-branded fiber made from recycled plastic bottles in the seat fabric.
Login to download images.•Ford, through the use of REPREVE®, plans to divert about 2 million post-consumer plastic bottles from landfills for use in new vehicles beginning with the 2012 Focus Electric – the first vehicle to feature branded REPREVE's seat fabric made from a hybrid blend of recycled plastic bottles and post-consumer waste
•The companies will collect bottles at events throughout the year, beginning with the North American International Auto Show and Consumer Electronics Show, that will be recycled back into REPREVE recycled fibers
•Focus Electric is the first vehicle with interior materials made of 100 percent clean technology, including the use of REPREVE recycled fibers; seating in each vehicle interior uses roughly 22 recycled plastic bottles
•Recycling effort is under way to raise awareness that only 29 percent of plastic bottles are recycled in the United States – nearly half the rate as in Europe
DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 5, 2012 – Ford, through the use of REPREVE®, plans to divert about 2 million post-consumer plastic bottles for use in the new Focus Electric and other new vehicles for the next model year.
The Focus Electric contains REPREVE-based fabrics that are made from about 22 recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles in each car. This is the first Ford vehicle to have an interior made from 100 percent clean technology.
"Ford is committed to delivering vehicles with leading fuel efficiency while targeting at least 25 percent clean technology in interior materials across our lineup," says Carol Kordich, lead designer of Sustainable Materials for Ford. "The Focus Electric highlights this commitment as Ford's first gas-free vehicle, and the first in the automotive industry to use branded REPREVE."
"After decades of education, the United States PET bottle recycling rate is only at 29 percent, about half the rate of Europe," said Roger Berrier, president and COO of Unifi Inc. (NYSE: UFI). "We hope this recycling initiative with Ford will help raise visibility around the importance of recycling with a goal to drive recycling rates to 100 percent, diverting millions of plastic bottles from entering the waste stream and potentially back into REPREVE-branded fibers."
Ford and Unifi will help collect some of the bottles destined for Ford vehicles by recycling plastic bottles from the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) taking place in Detroit on Jan. 9-10 and the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Jan. 10-13.
Quality on the inside
The REPREVE seat fabric is a polyester fiber made from a hybrid blend of recycled materials, including post-industrial fiber waste and post-consumer waste such as the plastic water bottles made of PET.
Using REPREVE also reduces energy consumption by offsetting the need to use newly refined crude oil for production. The technology meets all Ford design and comfort requirements to help ensure the Focus Electric and other vehicles meet the company's high performance standards.
"We aimed to make the Focus Electric the most overall sustainable vehicle available to consumers, from using clean technology to overall vehicle efficiency," said Kordich.
The Focus Electric, Ford's first all-electric passenger car, started production in December 2011 at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. When full production is under way in March, the car's seat fabric could contain plastic bottles collected at NAIAS or CES.
Ford's "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" commitment is part of the company's broader global sustainability strategy to reduce its environmental footprint while at the same time accelerating the development of advanced, fuel-efficient vehicle technologies around the world.
Currently Ford vehicles are approximately 90 percent recyclable at end of life. By using recycled content in its vehicles and ensuring its parts are recyclable, Ford is leading the industry in recycling efforts. Ford's goal is to have its vehicles be 100 percent recyclable.
In 2009, Ford mandated that fabric suppliers use a minimum of 25 percent recycled content for all 2009 and beyond model year vehicles. Since then, 37 different fabrics meeting the requirements have been developed and incorporated into Ford vehicles.
Examples include soy foam seat cushions and head restraints, wheat straw-filled plastic, castor oil foam in instrument panels, recycled resins for underbody systems, recycled yarns on seat covers and natural-fiber plastic for interior components.
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.
REPREVE® is a registered trademark of Unifi Inc. and is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and with others and is used by Ford under license.