At the end of June I was lucky enough to attend the annual Go Further Trend Conference at Ford North America’s Head Office in Dearborn, Michigan. It was a two-day conference that covered various topics from Design to Eco-Psychology and Urbanization.
On the eve of our arrival myself and about 250 other bloggers, editors and journalists were treated to cocktails and dinner at Ford Field where we were addressed by Bill Ford, Henry Ford’s great-grandson, environmentalist and executive chairman of Ford Motor Company. Ford is devoted to his hometown of Detroit and also serves as the vice chairman of the Detroit Lions, where he led efforts to build a new, environmentally friendly stadium that was the site of the Superbowl XL. The turf at Ford Field is made from recycled Nike tennis shoes!
Design with a conscience
Sustainable materials are becoming increasingly important to consumers, and companies like Ford are leading the way by using environmentally friendly products. A single Fusion may contain up to:
- 38.9 clear plastic, 16 ounce recycled bottles
- 31, 250 soybeans
- the denim equivalent of slightly more than two pairs of average-sized American blue jeans
Ford understands that today’s consumers are savvier than ever – they recognise great design and they demand it in the products they buy. Impeccable craftsmanship and smart design are essential; products must resonate with individuals, not just functionally but emotionally as well.
Ford wants to be the leader when it comes to fuel-efficiency and technology and it appears that they are not far off. By making changes now in how their cars function, what they are made of and how they are made, Ford is creating positive change today with an eye toward improving the future.
Small innovations, big sustainability
Lightweighting: Ford is putting technical muscle into reducing the weight of its vehicles for greater fuel efficiency. That includes research into advanced materials such as carbon and magnesium.
Active Grille Shutters: I noticed that a lot of the new cars are coming out with big grilles in the front. While it might remind one of gas guzzling, muscle cars there is actually eco reasoning behind this. These grille slats open when extra engine cooling air is required, such as low-speed stop-and-go-driving, and close automatically on the highway to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
Aerodynamics: We got to witness how they test the cars aerodynamics in the wind tunnel – this was really impressive. Ford vehicles achieve unsurpassed fuel efficiency in each segment where they compete. These improvements result from reducing friction and drag.
- SmartGuage with EcoGuide allows drivers of hybrid vehicles to monitor how their driving behaviour affects the vehicle’s efficiency.
- Brake Coach helps drivers optimise their use of the vehicle’s regenerative brakes to recapture kinetic energy and send it back to the battery, also reducing wear on the brakes.
- Ecomode coaches consumers in the art of eco-driving using real-time feedback, while scoring and rewards are displayed on the instrument cluster.
- My Ford Touch with EcoRoute is a map-based navigation system that instantly calculates the most fuel-efficient driving route.
- My Ford Mobile is a smartphone app that allows you to view and monitor your battery’s state of charge and remotely access your car from nearly anywhere, anytime.
Sustainable materials can be found throughout many Ford vehicles today. Ford’s use of soybean-based foam in seat cushions, backs and head restraints saves about 5 million tons of petroleum annually. Vehicles like the Fusion also use plastic made from recycled car battery casings to make fender splash shields and other underbody components. Most Ford vehicles use recycled tyre gaskets under the hood.
The company’s sustainability efforts are not limited to the cars they produce as it works to minimise the effect its operations have on the environment by cutting energy consumption per vehicle, by cutting the amount of waste-to-landfill by 100 million pounds in the last 5 years and by cutting the amount of water used in the manufacture of each vehicle between 2000 an 2012.
This is where technology gets really interesting. Stuck in traffic, ask your car to find you a new route. That is just one of the new technologies designed by Ford to meet the challenges of urbanization. With up to 4 billion cars expected on the road by 2050, Ford seeks to take advantage of the car as a rolling collection of sensors to help reduce congestion and prevent accidents. Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility calls for a partnership with the telecommunications network as part of the solution for alleviating global gridlock.
Among 25-34 year olds, 42% are more likely to live in a city centre or urban environment than the suburbs. With parking spots becoming more scarce and costly in urban centres, individuals are seeking more convenient and hassle-free transportation solutions. Ford has teamed up with Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing service.
Zipcar offers Ford Focus and Escape vehicles among other makes and models for rent by the hour or day to residents and businesses looking for an alternative to high costs and hassles of owning a car, particularly in urban centres.
Speakers at the Go Further event included Adrian Grenier of HBO’s Entourage fame, who is also a co-founder of SHFT.com as well as Christian Siriano, Project Runway’s youngest winner. Go Further with Ford was a fascinating experience. The technology we were exposed to on this trip was amazing and I hope that SA will not be too far behind in receiving and contributing towards the kinds of vehicles we saw in Dearborn.
Below is a trailer of the work Ford and SHFT.com are working on, otherwise know as The Big SHFT.[youtube_sc url=”http://youtu.be/QVFlislEEQw” title=”SHFT.com%20and%20Ford”]
On the final day of the event we all got to test out various vehicles including the Ford Police Inceptor, Mustang GT300 and the Raptor – standing in queues on the tar track in 40C was definitely worth it! Never took myself for a muscle car kinda gal but after taking it out for a spin on the track, I must admit I developed a car crush, pity about the V8 engine!
Thanks Ford, an enlightening time was had as usual!