Ford Authority

Future Ford EVs Could Feature Parts Made From Olive Trees

Ford has a long history of using sustainable materials in the automotive production process – one that stems all the way back to the Model T, which at one point contained 60 pounds of soybeans between its paint and molded plastic parts. Since then, Ford has teamed up with McDonalds to use coffee waste to make headlight housings, explored ways to incorporate bamboo, making plastic parts from recycled materials discarded in the ocean, and 3D printing various other types of waste into car parts, too. Now, the automaker is also looking at potentially using olive trees to make parts for future Ford EVs, too.

Blue Oval engineers in Cologne, Germany have already created prototype footrests and other parts using olive tree waste – the branches, twigs and leaves of harvested olive trees – as part of a trial program called the COMPOlive project, which aims to drive environmental change in olive production, using biocomposites instead of plastic. Before making those parts, engineers tested the fiber for durability, strength, and mouldability, but were soon able to injection mould prototype components consisting of 40 percent fibers and 60 percent recycled polypropylene plastic. The results are certainly promising, giving hope to the idea that this waste may one day serve a purpose in Ford EVs.

“In order to get the mix just right, we had to experiment with different ratios of waste material and polypropylene,” said injection moulding expert Thomas Baranowski. “It was hard work, but it ultimately enabled us to produce a material that shows no compromise in strength, durability, or flexibility.”

“At Ford, we’re always looking for ways to become more sustainable and sometimes inspiration can strike from the most unlikely places,” added Inga Wehmeyer, project lead. “In using the waste from olive trees, we have been able to substitute a significant amount of petroleum-based raw material in the interior parts. The sustainable fibres create a unique surface appearance and would be directly visible to our customers.”

We’ll have more on Ford’s sustainability efforts and innovations soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for 24/7 Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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