Ford and Sustainability

GreenSisterhoodWhen Ford invited me to attend the North American International Auto Show (#FordNAIAS), I have to admit, I was a bit flummoxed and excited at the same time.

How sustainable can Ford be? It manufacture cars which use fossil fuel and pollute the air! I thought.

Besides, the event is in Detroit … in January! I’m sorry but it’s not like Miami, you know?? Brrrrr…

Not only that, I’m not exactly Danika Patrick when it comes to cars. I’m more of a “Just get me to Point B from Point A in one piece and I’m good”  kinda person. I might drive like Danika – hubby might disagree on this – but I certainly don’t think about cars 24/7 like she probably does.

And here’s the other thing; up until recently, I drove a gas guzzling SUV in my suburban life. There. I confessed. (I once met a Prius driving local greenie for coffee who never called me back after seeing me drive off in my SUV. Snob. But how can I blame her?) But in my defense, albeit poor, when we leased the truck 6 years ago, there weren’t too many fuel efficient trucks on the market. And I needed to fit 4-5 fencing bags – which are longer than even your average golf bags – 4-5 backpacks, 4-5 gym bags, 4-5 teenagers and a dog (sometimes) in the car when I used it to carpool my kids and their friends to NYC 3-4 times a week. It was brutal when the gas price went up to over $5 per gallon. Once, the gas pump stopped pumping at $100 even though the tank wasn’t even filled. Thankfully, when we returned the truck, we found a clean diesel car we liked that gets close to 50 mpg.

So, when I received the invitation to be part of #FordNAIAS digital summit that will include a sustainable panel discussion, I was curious to learn how sustainable Ford really is. I heard that former CEO Bill Ford was really into sustainability, so I was even more curious. And in my research before the trip, I came across the company’s Global Sustainability Director, John Veira’s comment on GreenBiz. According to Veira, sustainability

“…has moved from the periphery to the center of our strategy for succeeding in the marketplace and helping to address global challenges. We understand that business practices focused on energy efficiency, sustainable materials, human rights and consumer safety are the key to the continued growth of our company and quality of life worldwide.”

So, he sounded promising, right?

Sustainablility Panel

Sustainablility Panel: L to R – John Veira (Ford), Mattew Banks (WWF), Mike Tinsky (Ford) and Andrew Winston, speaking (Author)

How sustainable is Ford, really.

  • Electrical consumption used in vehicle production at its manfacturing facilities was reduced by about 800 kilowatt-hours (kwh) last year – that’s higher than how much an average household uses in a month in some states, like CA and NY.
  • Installed a 500-kilowatt solar panel system at its Wayne, Mich. plant, to create renewable energy during production of  vehicles like the Focus and Focus Electric. And at its Buffalo stamping plant, a new LED lighting system is saving about 700 watts per fixture.
  • Cut the amount it sent to landfills by 11.3 percent in 2011 from 2010. It also sliced overall CO2 emissions from its global operations, on a per-vehicle basis, by 8 percent last year.
  • One-third of Ford vehicle lines offer a model featuring 40 mpg fuel efficiency or better.
  • Expects its 2013 Fusion Hybrid to be “the world’s most fuel-efficient non-re-chargeable midsize sedan,” from 47 mpg in the city and 44mpg in the highway. Check Car and Driver for their review.
  • Ford’s 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, another midsize sedan, will have a projected 100 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe) rating.
  • Company’s new gas-turbo, direct-injection engines reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15 percent, with up to 20 percent greater fuel economy. That direct injection and turbo-charging allows Ford to use smaller engine blocks. The EcoBoost 6-cylinder engine “can produce power like a V-8 [and] a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine performs like a V-6.”, according to Veira. Ford expects to produce about 1.5 million EcoBoost engines next year — and to offer them in 90 percent of its North American models of cars and trucks.
  • Sustainable materials is used for interior – recycled material as well as sustainable materials in many of their cars. Impressive. See below for what type of material is used for which part.

    ford sustainable material

    Image by Ford

  • Rouge factory, where their most popular truck of all time F-150 is manufactured, has the world’s largest living roof. Who knew? The roofs are covered with sedum that absorb up to 4 million gallons of rainwater annually and is part of a storm-water management system. The living roof produces oxygen and provides natural insulation for the building, thereby reducing energy costs. Rouge factory also has a a 12,500 gallon cistern that collects rainwater and uses it for irrigation and to restore its surrounding natural habitat with its reclaimed water from the roof. The roof acts as a filtration system, providing clean oxygenated water for the surrounding wetlands.  You can read more about it in detail from Green-Talk. Anna is an avid gardener and green builder; she knows how important a living roof is for the environment. The rouge factory wasn’t always this pristine. It was polluted at one time but Bill Ford Jr. had a plan to clean up the area and to create a balance between ecology and business.
Rouge Factory Roof

Rouge Factory Roof

Boy, there are so much I learned about Ford and its sustainability programs but I can’t tell you everything in one post. Visit Ford’s sustainability website and get more scoop from there. I never realized the amount of environmental education I’d get from Ford, a car company!

Here is one small collage from the trip but check my Flickr photo album to see more here and here. Click the image below to enlarge.

Ford Unveiling of 2013 cars

Ford Unveiling of 2013 cars

Yes, the C.E.O. of Ford Motors Co., posed for a picture with us. I’m preparing the interview video I took of Mr. Alan Mulally, answering my question so I’ll post it very shortly.

Mulally with Karen and Anna

Ford C.E.O. Alan Mulally with me and Anna from Green Talk

So what do you think? Would you buy Ford cars, knowing its sustainable values and efforts?

P.S. I’m still waiting to test drive the C-Max EV.

Read the following posts about our trip to #FordNAIAS by Green Sisterhood writers:

  1. Green Talk: Rouge Factory and Green Trucks
  2. Big Green Purse: Shopping for a new Car
  3. Nature Moms: Green Cars at NAIAS
  4. The Green Divas – Green Divas at NAIAS
  5. Good Girl Gone Green – Wordless Wednesday

First Image: From L to R: Enviro Booty, The Green Divas, Me, Green Talk, Nature Mom, Good Girl Gone Green, Crunchy Betty, Big Green Purse

Disclaimer: Ford paid for my trip to its #FordNAIAS but this opinion is all of my own.

STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for ecokaren to operate as a blog to provide information for my readers, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only ever endorse products that I believe would be of value to you and that I approve. Reviews and opinions are 100% mine.

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7 comments
Green Diva Meg
Green Diva Meg

great article! was a fun experience and YES, the sustainability in the manufacturing process is a factor for me and I happen to be in the market for a new car . . . Ford is sending me a C-Max to drive next week! can't wait.

Kiihele
Kiihele

What an interesting article. My very first car at 16 was a Ford, my Dad drove a Ford pick-up, I had a '65 Mustang that I loved. However, I recently bought a Scion XB and have enjoyed the 40mpg gas mileage and despite its quirky looks, its roomy interior. When it finally "gives up the ghost" I have thought I would get either a Fusion or a Focus. I want to buy American. I was impressed with Ford when they didn't opt for a bailout back in the recession days. Knowing they have such sustainability practices just makes them even more desirable.

Rachel
Rachel

Very interesting article on Ford, Karen! I hope my next car is electric or hybrid of some sort but hadn't thought to look into what goes into the car and the sustainability of the company itself. Definitely worth a look at Ford. cheers

ecokaren
ecokaren

I was surprised too Rachel. I always thought hybrids and EV's are all alike and always just looked at its sticker price. But from what I saw, Ford was way ahead of the curve in its sustainability efforts even before they started manufacturing fuel efficient cars. And had I known about its Fusion, I would have definitely went for it before we bought our diesel. It's so luxurious for what's its worth. And it's a mid-size car that can fit my family comfortably.

ecokaren
ecokaren

Me too! So glad your midwife approved your travel! It was great seeing you and your babybump!

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