Ford Steps up Sustainability with Recycled Materials for Mass Market Automotive Production - 2013 Ford Fusion.

With the launch of the 2013 Fusion, Ford Motor Company has taken a giant leap for green motoring by incorporating recycled fabric materials in mass production cars globally for the first time.

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Ford, a global force in automotive design and mass market manufacturing with a special following in the hearts and minds of consumers worldwide has yet again moved the automotive sector forward.

Launching a new range of  up to 15 models to be sold the world over that optimize the unique material properties of recycled products such as plastic bottles and post industrial waste in the form of fabrics and yarns, Ford has highlighted both the opportunity to re-use materials in the automotive sector and Ford's commitment to the future of 'Green Motoring'.

The flagship model for their 'Serious Sustainability' campaign is the 2013 Ford Fusion, a mid-sized sedan car that is extremely popular in a number of large global markets. Ford claim that by using the recycled yarn as a durable, high performance seat fabric, they will be able to recycle enough plastic bottles and post industrial waste to make 1.5 million yards of fabric for its vehicle production annually - thats a whole load of plastic bottles that might have previously been burnt or ended up in landfill.

Just in their North American markets, this has the potential to equate to 800,000 to 900,000 yards when the 2013 Fusion is in full production.

There are a number of environmentally and commercial benefits to using recycled content in automotive design and fabrication...

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The 2013 Fusion is the next step in a sustainable development program in which Ford has increased the use of recycled yarns in its production cars from 0% in 2007 to being available on nearly 66% of their vehicle programs in 2013. This means that if you are looking to buy a 2013 Mustang or a 2013 Fiesta, you will have the option to procure the vehicle with recycled yarn seats.

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“The fabric being used in Fusion truly illustrates Ford’s commitment to sustainability, regardless of any geographical borders,” comments Robert Brown, vice president, sustainability, environment and safety engineering at Ford. “Anytime we can connect our supply and suppliers with sustainability, we’re headed in the right direction on our commitment to help better the world.”

Ford's increasing use of sustainable / recycled products is a conscious drive to apply significant developments in the world of materials science to enhance their product offerings for both the environment and consumer. This will only improve both the quality and range of options for recycled products in automotive applications globally.

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Interestingly, Ford's Lead Designer of Sustainable Materials, Carol Kordich mentions that the ultimate goal is to one day have all Ford interior fabrics consisting of recycled material. The launch of the 2013 Ford Fusion (also known as the Mondeo in Europe and Asia Pacific markets) suggests that this is closer to reality than some may think!

As automotive designers and manufacturers around the world start to incorporate more recycled materials into their products, the market will continuously develop thus improving quality and reducing raw material costs at the same time. Both will drive us to a more environmentally focused and cost competitive market for these 'green' automotive product offerings.

This will not only offer consumers a greater choice to minimize the environmental impact of their cars but a surge in the application of recycled materials helps to boost the market for these specialist products as Dan Russian, business manager at Sage Automotive Interiors, Ford’s largest fabric supplier in North America comments “It was exciting to see Ford take a leadership position in the use of sustainable materials, which supported the efforts of our design and development teams.”.

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Globally the automotive sector is widely recognized to have adapted to increasing pressure from both consumers and legislation to help lower the environmental impacts of transport, and there have been some fantastic improvements in emissions standards, fuel economy and alternative fuel power trains. It is now apparent that manufacturers are looking ever closer at 'full life cycle' assessments of their products, and by incorporating recycled / sustainable materials into their designs, Ford is at the forefront of this process.

A long-term focus on Sustainability

Since 2009 Ford's corporate strategy has been set to include a minimum of 25% recycled material in the seat fabric of their products. Initially, this may not have been as easy as one may think, as Carol Kordich mentions “Initially suppliers didn’t think we were serious when we told them in the late 2000s that our new corporate strategy required a minimum of 25 percent recycled content, but more and more suppliers started to increase their environmental R&D efforts.”

This is a great example of how a large organization can effectively stimulate the supply chain to accelerate the production of more environmentally friendly products and services which ultimately improves the consumers range of choice and the environmental impact of their buying behavior.

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As the 2013 Ford fusion leads the field again in terms of the volume of recycled material in the product offering, Ford now offers a range of 41 fabrics that contain various levels of recycled material available across 15 product lines - and we can expect this number to increase!

I wonder just how consumers will react to the products on offer and whether we can expect to see a real surge in sustainable materials replacing other car parts traditionally made from less sustainable materials... congratulations to Ford and the 2013 Fusion team.. this looks like a massive step in the right direction.


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