The environmentally friendly reach of the Ford Focus Electric goes beyond its zero-emissions motor. Focus Electric combines recycled and renewable materials, green technologies and innovative manufacturing processes to make the car green from bumper to bumper.
"An electric vehicle is already considered a green vehicle, but Ford wanted to go a step further by looking at ways to make the materials inside the Focus Electric more eco-friendly as well," said Carrie Majeske, product sustainability manager at Ford Motor Company. "Using recycled or renewable materials in lieu of petroleum-based materials allows Ford to minimize the amount of virgin materials used in the Focus Electric."
The Focus Electric is not only green in areas where customers expect it to be, but also in places they might not, like in the seat cushions. Soy-based foams, which are used on more than 20 Ford vehicles, will be used in Focus Electric, with seat cushions shaped from 8 percent soy-based content. A material called Lignotock also is used behind the cloth on the door. Derived from 85 percent wood fibers, this lighter application results in a weight reduction and provides better sound-deadening benefits compared to conventional glass-reinforced thermal plastics.
"One of the more impactful things we are doing is finding a way to increase the use of recycled materials in resins. We have a strategy that specifies the use of a large quantity of post-consumer recycled material in a range of plastic applications," said Majeske. "Pop bottles and milk jugs eventually become part of components like underbody shields, wheel arch liners and air cleaner assemblies."
By using more recycled content in resins, Ford can further reduce the amount of oil-based plastics in vehicles. This also cuts down on overall oil consumption. Applications of the post-consumer plastics also include carpets, roof lining and replacement bumpers.
Ford, Detroit Edison and Xtreme Power are teaming up to establish one of Michigan's largest solar power generation systems and electric vehicle charging stations at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., where Focus Electric will be produced. Ford will work with Detroit Edison to install a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system, which will be integrated with a 750-kilowatt energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt-hours of energy using batteries - enough to power 100 average homes for a year.
Several new and innovative production processes at the plant will help make the vehicle even greener. For example, a new three-wet paint process applies all three coats of finish in sequence before oven curing, ensuring high-quality paint finish and a significant reduction in energy use.
With charging playing a major role in Focus Electric ownership, Ford also looked to make the vehicle's home charging stations greener. Jointly developed with Leviton, a leading North American producer of electrical devices, Ford is offering a charging unit that has an outer shell made from up to 60 percent post-consumer recycled material.