How Green Is Your Car’s Interior?

Going green in our cars means more than just getting better fuel economy. As early as 1998, Chrysler aimed to use recycled materials for the fabric roof liner of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Fast forward to the 2010s and the list of automakers using recycled materials has grown.

Since 2014, The BMW i3 has used natural fibers along with recycled plastics and aluminum. The 2015 Nissan Leaf incorporated 25 percent recycled materials, including steel for the body.

Ford stands out when it comes to using recycled materials; in addition to using recycled materials in the wire frame and under the hood, Ford incorporates recycled materials in tactile components of a car’s interior, such as seat cushions and fabric. In 2011, Ford began using soy foam for its seat cushions. Shortly after, the automaker incorporated Repreve fabric, made of recycled water bottles, in the 2012 Ford Focus Electric.

Ford isn’t just focusing its recycling efforts on one or two models. Instead, its efforts span multiple models, from trucks to compact vehicles.

It’s turned its attention to another interior component, with some inspiration from bees.

It’s not the sexiest of car parts, but the floor of the cargo area in the new Ford EcoSport (pronounced “Echo Sport”) is made from recycled paper and fiberglass in a honeycomb shape that can hold up to 500 pounds. It weighs just 6 pounds. We’ll let the marketing people at Ford tell you more with this short, but creative, video:

TexasDriveBlog summed it up, saying Ford is using the following materials already, and researching more:

Kenaf, a tropical plant in the cotton family, is used in the door bolsters of Ford Escape

REPREVE fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles, diverts more than 5 million plastic bottles from landfill annually. Ford most recently introduced REPREVE in the F-150

Post-consumer cotton from denim and T-shirts is used as interior padding and sound insulation in most Ford vehicles

EcoLon post-consumer nylon carpeting is used as cylinder head covers in Ford Escape, Fusion, Mustang and F-150

Recycled plastic bottles are becoming floor carpeting, wheel liners and shields in several vehicles including Ford Transit and C-Max

Recycled post-consumer tires are used in seals and gaskets

Rice hulls are used to reinforce plastic in Ford F-150 electrical harness

Soy-based foams are used as seat cushions, seatbacks and head restraints in Ford’s North American vehicle lineup

Wheat straw is used in Ford Flex to reinforce storage bins

Cellulose tree fibers are used in the armrest of Lincoln MKX. Used to replace glass-filled plastic, this industry-first material weighs 10 percent less, is produced 30 percent faster, and reduces carbon emissions

These recycling efforts, paired with the interest in EV technology, may be the start of a new trend in cars. We’ll be watching for more of these innovations moving forward.

Would you be more likely to buy a vehicle made from sustainable resources?


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  1. Sadly going green isn’t the main motivation.
    Car companies are simply looking for cheaper materials to make more profit and “green” materials are the cheapest.
    These soy, corn, and wheat based materials also have one major drawback.
    Rodents like rats and squirrels are attracted by these food based materials used in most new cars.
    As a result, many owners have had hundreds and even thousands of dollars damage done to their cars by just one hungry rat.
    And since the cost to change out a damaged soy based wiring harness can easily run thousands of dollars, your car can easily be totalled out by a squirrel.

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