Ford Motor Company is helping play a role in promoting environmentally friendly auto parts, and one way it’s doing that is by using recycled plastic bottles for underbody shields on all cars and SUVs and wheel liners on F-series trucks.
“The underbody shield is a large part, and for a part that big, if we use solid plastic, it would likely weigh three times as much,” said Thomas Sweder, design engineer for Ford Motor Company, in a statement. “We look for the best materials to work with to make our parts, and in this case, we are also creating many environmental benefits.”
It all started in 2006, when Ford said it was the first automaker to use recycled plastics for wheel liners on the European Escort. Over the last 12 years, aerodynamics has driven the need for underbody shields, and the use of plastics in vehicle parts is used globally and has grown exponentially. Ford said it uses roughly 1.2 billion recycled plastic bottles per year—about 250 bottles per vehicle on average.
Due to its light weight, recycled plastic is ideal for the manufacture of underbody shields, engine under shield and front- and rear-wheel arch liners that can help improve vehicle aerodynamics, which effects fuel efficiency. These shields also help create a significantly quieter environment on the new 2020 Ford Escape, according to the company.
Environmentally, using recycled plastics on vehicle parts helps reduce the amount of plastic that can end up in dangerous situations, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass of plastic in the Pacific Ocean.
“Ford is among the leaders when it comes to using materials such as this, and we do it because it makes sense technically and economically as much as it makes sense for the environment,” added Sweder. “This material is very well suited for the parts we’re making with it and is extremely functional.”