Ford : New generation of environmental commitment at Ford Motor Company
This commitment extends from research, through to development and the manufacture of the vehicles themselves, then through customer use to the end of the vehicle's useful life and the subsequent re-use and recycling of materials.
Over half of Ford's scientific laboratory research and development budget - approximately $125 million - is invested in environmental research annually. The company is investing more than $1 billion in its global Alternative Fuel Vehicle programme and emissions research over the next five years.
Within Ford's Research and Product Development Centres, work is under way on 70 environmental research projects, and more than 2,500 Ford engineers are dedicated full-time to ensuring that Ford products meet and exceed both existing and anticipated emissions standards.
Ford also supports conservation and environmental projects through the Henry Ford European Conservation Awards - now in their 16th year. This programme is believed to be one of the largest of its kind in Europe providing grants totalling $500,000 each year to support a wide range of environmental initiatives. It operates in 34 countries and attracted a record 2,000 entries in 1998. Similar Ford corporate citizenship projects supporting the environment operate in Brazil and Australia.
Ford's global philosophy is that it is possible for individuals to be environmentalists as well as car enthusiasts. The company's engineers and scientists have developed many advanced and innovative technologies which offer solutions that reduce environmental impact, whilst providing customers with the utility and performance they expect, and at an affordable cost.
Ford's wide ranging approach to the environment encompasses Clean Products and Clean Production initiatives.
Ford's European advanced research activities are based at Ford Forschungszentrum Aachen (FFA) in Germany. FFA was founded in 1994 and is one of three research facilities operated by Ford to focus on environmental research.
Vehicles such as the all-new Ford Focus have been designed using a pioneering Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach. This analyses the environmental impact of a vehicle at all stages of its life.
As a result of this approach at Ford's industry-leading European emission laboratories, class leading fuel economy is common to all engines available in the Ford Focus - with gains of up to 25 per cent compared to their predecessors.
Similarly, the 40-year programme of investment in Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) research within Ford has led to the company's leadership in this area and the launch of these derivatives of the Ford Focus and Ford Mondeo bi-fuel models in Geneva, plus the launch of the Ford Transit AFV.
Ford engineers are also testing many new technologies for the future and advanced materials in real-life applications on Ford concept vehicles, such as the P2000 program.
The Ford Telematic programme is designed to assist drivers to improve the efficiency of their journeys, which studies have shown can be as much as 13 per cent with intelligent route guidance systems. These efficiencies mean reduced exhaust emissions and lower fuel consumption for a given journey. Ford Mondeo and Ford Galaxy already offer optional Radio Navigation Systems, and the Ford Focus will be available with an advanced Traveller Assistance System (TAS) in some markets. This features a hands-free telephone integrated into the radio unit and a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver.
The Ford Focus also demonstrates the company's complete recycling programme. Ford was the first automotive company to issue worldwide vehicle design for recycling guidelines to its suppliers and engineers. Introduced in 1993, these provide standards to design vehicles for easier disassembly and specify how recyclable materials can be used in vehicle and component design.
Initiatives realised in the Ford Focus include recycling of automotive parts and waste domestic products - including telephones, carpets and blue jeans - into new components. Over 2 million tons of recycled materials including more than 50 million recycled drinks bottles are put to good use by Ford in its manufacturing operations each year.
To assist component recycling when Ford Focus comes to the end of its useful life, all plastic components are marked (where feasible) to identify the different types of plastic used. These identifiers (developed by Ford in conjunction with the University of Southampton in the UK) can be used to assist in sorting and handling plastic components appropriates after dismantling.
Ford has the most comprehensive compliance with the internationally-recognised ISO-14001 Environmental Management System standard which has been attained at all its major manufacturing facilities across the world - including Jaguar, Aston Martin and Visteon.
This means that Ford has examined its products, processes and materials in a continuous search for improvements that will benefit the environment.
Ford's advanced environmental system provides consistency in its management and control of environmental issues at its manufacturing sites. As an evolutionary process, it is reviewed and updated to take account of global developments in best practices. The process includes all the environmental criteria relevant to each manufacturing site, including raw material use (energy, water), noise and air pollution, waste disposal and treatment and recycling.
The Ford Focus manufacturing site at Saarlouis, Germany was one of the first to obtain ISO14001 certification in 1996 and through the environmental management system, considerable improvements have been achieved. At Saarlouis, 20 million litres of heating oil per year have been saved and carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced by 50,000 tonnes per year through the use of heat produced at a local steelworks.
At the Bridgend engine plant in Wales (which produced the Ford Focus Zetec engines), Ford is piloting a $2.2 million solar power project. Covering 25,000 square metres of the plant's roof, 26 solar units (incorporating 1540 photovoltaic cells) have been installed. It is one of the largest systems of this type to be installed anywhere in the world.
Over its projected lifespan of 30 years, the Bridgend solar power installation is expected to eliminate the production of 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide which would be produced by a coal-fired power station generating the same amount of electricity.
Ford has similarly worked to reduce emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from its paint processes. VOCs are known to play a role in ozone and photochemical smog production. A 50 per cent reduction in emissions from Ford's paint operations has been achieved since 1988 through the application of new carbon adsorption or thermal oxidation abatement equipment, improved paint spray and solvent recovery techniques, electrostatic and rotating bell technology designed to minimise paint losses, and low-solvent and water-based paints.
Ford is also phasing out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which have been used primarily for cooling and cleaning operations and was the first vehicle manufacturer in Germany to report zero emissions of these materials. The use of chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHCs) for cleaning purposes has also been reduced, for example, through the introduction of granulated walnut shells for cleaning seat foam moulds.
Ford has also taken a lead on waste management with the introduction of its Commodity Management Supplier (CMS) programme for Total Waste Management (TWM). The CMS programme places the responsibility for the management of all the waste at an individual production site with one supplier. This responsibility covers everything from on-site handling and transportation to recycling and disposal.
The Ford TWM strategy has a three-stage progressive approach which focuses on the avoidance of waste through correct process selection; reduction of unavoidable wastes and residues; and the recycling of residual waste wherever possible. In reality it covers everything from the use of colour-coded bins for non-toxic general refuse, the recycling of discarded vending machine cups and computer printer cartridges, through to the recycling and treatment of production wastes such as used solvents from paint operations and sand from metal casting processes.
Ford's focus on environmental improvement does not stop when its products leave its production sites. Ford dealerships also have a role to play in supporting the company's environmental commitments, and there is a continual programme to eliminate or reduce the use of potentially hazardous or polluting materials, and to provide appropriate training in handling and recycling such materials where they cannot be totally eliminated.
Ford Motor Company's environmental stewardship responsibilities date back to its earliest days when the company's founder, Henry Ford became one of the century's environmental pioneers.
In 1915, the coil cases of the Ford Model T were made of a wheat gluten with an asbestos binder. By 1933, Ford's work in soybeans resulted in an enamel used to paint cars and oil casting moulds, and in 1935, two bushels of soybeans went into every Ford car - in the paint, the horn button, gearshift knob, door handles, accelerator pedal and timing gears.
Henry Ford had a strong ethic of preserving the natural environment as well as reducing, reusing and recycling. His vision was to create technology that complemented and benefited both mankind and the natural world.
The Ford environmental legacy is as strong today as when Henry Ford began his pioneering programmes. Ford's new Chairman, William Clay Ford, Jr., walks easily in the tradition of his great-grandfather, Henry Ford, having achieved international respect as a life-long environmentalist.