Thanks, Rob. I just thought it was strange that they would be implementing two radically new competing technologies at the same time, unless their finding one isn't so great. I can see the slowly replacing an old material (such as foam) by keeping that supplier going for a while when testing the plastic, but thought it was strange that they would pick one "green" material and jump to another so quickly.
Of course, Ann's most recent post might be the reason. If the bosses are mandating 25% recycled for marketing purposes, then this is a way to getting to that goal. It might not have anything to do with better materials (however you might choose to define "better").
Jack, it's my understanding that Ford uses a number of vendors to provide environmentally friendly materials for their seats and flooring. I would imagine different vendors are using different materials. The soy products are likely still being used.
I, too, was really impressed to find out how far Ford and other car makers are taking the sustainable mandates with their suppliers. I think Rob's right, that big manufacturers like Ford and Walmart can make a huge difference with these supplier mandates. Beth, note that Ford started by mandating that all cars' fabrics had a minimum of 25% recycled content. This 100% mandate is, so far, limited to their EV cars and others with "eco-friendly powertrains." That makes marketing sense, as Ratsky points out. It's also possibIe--I'm only guessing--that Ford intends to eventually extend this mandate to their mainstream, high-volume vehicles, as well. That would make sense, anyway.
Wasn't it about a year ago that Ford was talking about making their car seats from a soy product? If they are now marketing a recycled plastic product, does anybody know what happened to previous design?
One thing I haven't heard in the list of reasons for Ford's mandate on 25 percent post-consumer materials in its cab is cost. Post-consumer waste may actually cost more than the alternative. I would guess it does cost more, since it probably requires some significant processing.
TJ, I think the feel-good of fabrics is in the eye, uh, I mean hand, of the beholder. Personally, I don't like to use clothing or household goods fabrics made of materials that aren't natural. But a lot can be done with them for more industrial type uses, such as carpets and now car seats. My 3 years' new living room carpet feels almost exactly like wool, and it's made from some kind of polymer.
Justajo, thanks for the input from someone who's actually seen and felt this stuff.
Depending on grade, recycled PET feedstock can be significantly cheaper than virgin material. The decision to go with a recycled material may have been a financial one with an added benefit of a more green vehicle.
I agree, Ratsky, on your notion that the economics of these vehicles is even more in question when you figure in the subsidy, which is really the rest of the population kicking in to cut the price for those who effectively want a posh vehicle.
I'm also curious about the carbon footprint comparison between an EV and a gas vehicle. The electricity is mostly generated by coal, which certainly has some carbon consequences.
All that said, I like the idea of Ford asking suppliers to use a certain percentage of post-consumer waste. If the supplier is doing it for Ford, at a certain point - and a certain scale - it may become effective for uses that are not tied to a customer mandate.
There's a very simple reason that Ford has done this with a focus on EV and Hybrid vehicles: it's due to the slow uptake in the marketplace of these still-niche products. It's intended to make the up-front cost penalty of these (especially the EVs) more palatable, considering the presumably "green" orientation of the potential buyers. It's the "Feel Good" factor. While on that subject, I want to inject one more element of basic economics that nearly ALL of the posters favoring EVs ignore. I refer to the acronym "TANSTAAFL." There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. SOMEBODY pays for EVERYTHING. That $7500 "government rebate/sudsidy" is coming out of MY pocket and the many others who continue to drive our aging (but still fuel- and emisiions-efficient) vehicles (mine is a 2003 Camry with 130K miles on it, gets as much as 29+ MPG on road trips, average 25 overall)). You simply cannot continue to blithely ASSume that this piece of the price can be ignored just because it isn't coming (directly) out of the buyer's pocket! This nonsense may be good politics, but it's fraudulent in the economic world. These same posters are very quick to tout the (alleged) indirect economic benefits of "greenness" in justifying the immense and wasteful (e.g. Solyndra) governmental subsidies lavished on the various hucksters who have latched on to this newly-swollen federal teat, but refuse to consider the indirect costs.
Curious that the story states that Ford is mandating cars with "eco-friendly power trains" to use the sustainable materials for car seats and such. Obviously they are trying to make a statement with these cars, but it does lead you to wonder how serious they are about this. If it's limited to eco-friendly cars, not their full portfolio of vehicles, is this more of a marketing/positioning ploy or is it a true sustainability effort?
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