In recent years, carmakers have been striving to make vehicles greener not just by lowering harmful emissions, but also by selecting what materials go into these vehicles.
Brands like Ford have been working on making their products more eco-friendly. The American automotive company has already turned to a variety of recycled and natural materials that include wheat straw, kenaf plant fiber, rice husks, and soybeans. Now it looks like the Blue Oval has found another potential natural material to incorporate into its future cars, to further cut down on environmentally harmful petrochemicals.
Ford Motor Company and Jose Cuervo have teamed up, and while this might seem like an unlikely pairing, this collaboration will take the use of biomaterials to the next level. The Dearborn-based automaker wants to create a new type of bioplastic that uses the agave plant byproducts that come from the popular Mexican tequila producer. While agave fiber leftovers have already been used in Jose Cuervo’s own farms, Ford is now introducing this natural material to the automotive industry.
According to Ford’s initial assessment, the agave-based bioplastic shows great potential thanks to its durability and visual appeal. It will be primarily used on the inside of the vehicle for its HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) units, storage units, and wiring harnesses, so don’t expect to see plant fiber-based bodywork anytime soon. Another advantage of this material is its light weight; this can help improve the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Agricultural byproducts are cheap and readily available, but are underutilized. These more sustainable materials have the potential to replace talc and glass fiber currently used by manufacturers. According to Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader of materials sustainability, a typical car has around 400lb (181kg) of plastic components in it. It’s their job at Ford to find the proper place for these green composites to make a positive effect on our planet.
While Ford made no mention of which models could use this new bioplastic, most of its sustainable-based materials were introduced in its North American-made models that include the popular Explorer and Escape.
The next time you look at a bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila, you’ll remember the agave plant and how it can help make cars more environmentally friendly. Oh, and please don’t drink and drive. Just saying.