Ford stresses need for environmental strategy

During the China Plastics in Automotive Conference, Ford Motor Co. stressed the importance of a clear environmental strategy across Ford’s global manufacturing footprint.
“[Sustainability] is part of a total corporate strategy for products,” said Jennifer Gilhool, Director of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering for Ford’s Asia-Pacific and Africa group.
Ms. Gilhool stressed the importance of clear environmental strategy. At Ford’s new $760 million manufacturing plant in Hangzhou, China—being built with Chinese joint venture partner Changan Ford Mazda Automobile—the automaker will install the same production processes used everywhere else.
That will include using soy and other bio-based foams in seating, and natural reinforcement in plastics, such as coconut husk, to make parts that are lighter than glass-filled thermoplastic composites.
Ford has said it also intends to continue its use of microcellular moulding. It launched production of an instrument panel on its Escape and Kuga sport utility vehicles last year using Trexel Inc.’s MuCell process to save US$3 and 1 pound of weight per vehicle.
Ford’s “three wet” painting process, designed to reduce production time and the emissions created during painting, is being installed as part of the expansion at its plant in Chongqing.
By 2015, the automaker plans to introduce 15 new vehicles to China. The plan will include enhanced powertrain technology that incorporates engine turbochargers—which use a variety of engineering-grade resins—to help drivers there get more miles from their fuel.
“There are 1 billion cars on the road today,” Ms. Gilhool said. “We could have 4 billion cars on the road by 2050. Even with zero-emission vehicles and using renewable resources, 4 billion cars is still 4 billion cars.”