By: Beth Fiteni, MSEL
Green Home Consulting:
The first Green Festival to take place in NYC was a huge marketplace of green ideas and products, attended by 25,000 people this earth day weekend at the Javits Center. At first I was somewhat surprised to see that Ford was a sponsor of a Green Festival, knowing that Green America had vetted each vendor carefully for its green credentials. However, my viewpoint was changed after seeing exhibit at the Festival, and learning about the efforts now going into the making of the Ford fleet.
Nancy Gioia, Director of Global Electrification at Ford, spoke about how Ford is now carrying the theme of sustainability throughout its thinking about fuels, vehicle components, their entire supply base, energy use during production, and water & waste management at their plants. Plastic interior parts are being made out of plant-based materials, including corn, soy, wheat, and even sweet potato—so Ford staff whipped up some salsa at the Festival, made with ingredients used to make their car parts. She pointed out that Ford’s sustainability report can be found on their website, and one of the key strategies is to electrify existing models so that they can make use of economies of scale with most of the vehicles parts, instead of creating a whole new vehicle, which drives costs up.
The current fleet now includes a range of choices suitable for different needs, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, as well as fully electric, battery powered vehicles, including a Ford Fiesta and their Cmax minivan. Ford has targets for the future, shooting for 25% of the fleet to be electrified by 2020, but also is looking at more efficient batteries that are lighter weight in the future (current battery weighs 661 lbs, but the next generation should be down to 518lbs).
An impressive feature in the new vehicles is My Ford Touch, which warns you when you’re battery is running low, but more importantly, tells you where the nearest charging station is. That is a significant hurdle to overcome for broad customer acceptance, so I think Ford is well on its way. – Beth Fiteni, GreenInsideandOut.com, 4/24/12