SHANGHAI (June 22, 2012)—Global auto makers have been talking about a “global car” platform strategy for the past few years—working with suppliers that can produce the same parts to the same standards in multiple countries.
And for Ford Motor Co., that also means meeting the same sustainable manufacturing standards for those cars and their parts in any region as well.
“(Sustainability) is part of a total corporate strategy for products,” said Jennifer Gilhool, director of sustainability, environment and safety engineering for Ford's Asia-Pacific and Africa group.
At Plastics News' China Plastics in Automotive conference in spring in Shanghai, Gilhool stressed the importance of clear environmental strategy across Ford's global manufacturing footprint. At its new $760 million manufacturing plant in Hangzhou, China—being built with Chinese joint venture partner Changan Ford Mazda Automobile—the Dearborn, Mich.-based auto maker will install the same production processes used everywhere else.
That will include using soy and other bio-based foams in seating, and natural reinforcement in plastics, such as coconut husk, to make parts that are lighter than glass-filled thermoplastic composites.
Ford has said it also intends to continue its use of microcellular molding. It launched production of an instrument panel on its Escape and Kuga sport utility vehicles last year using Trexel Inc.'s MuCell process to save $3 and 1 pound of weight per vehicle.
Ford's “three wet” painting process, designed to reduce production time and the emissions created during painting, is being installed as part of the expansion at its plant in Chongqing