Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based out of Michigan. Ford is the second largest United States automaker and the fifth largest international automakers. Ford has been very active in working on environmental initiatives and the clean technology industry. These things include compressed natural gas, flexible fuel vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, all-electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells, increased fuel efficiency and PC Power Management. Here are just a few of the highlights associated with Ford and their environmental initiatives.
1) The Greener Miles Program is one of Ford’s largest initiatives to date. There are two parts to the Greener Miles Program. The TerraPass Program is the first part where Ford owners have the ability to calculate their carbon dioxide emissions from their car while driving. They are then able to purchase a TerraPass for an annual fee between $30 and $80 to fund renewable energy and energy efficient projects that decrease carbon dioxide emissions. The second part of the program is called Eco-Driving – Ford offers information on the driving habits of an individual as well as their automobile maintenance that will conserve fuel, save money, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
2) Ford Talking Cars Reduce not only Crashes but Fuel Usage. In June of 2011, Ford began working on a new technology that will allow cars to talk to each other, assisting in reducing crashes as well as fuel consumption. The technology will still not be available for a few years but will combine GPS with Wi-Fi capabilities. The technology allows cars to “see” other cars that are connected to the network. Reducing accidents will lead to less congestion and an increase in fuel efficient driving. Drivers will be aware of traffic conditions and suggest alternative routes.
3) ECOnetic is the trade name for a certain vehicle produced by Ford of Europe that emphasizes higher fuel efficiency as well as low carbon dioxide emissions. As opposed to other car manufacturers, Ford of Europe went along with a different design philosophy – to create extremely fuel efficient vehicles without ever compromising a person’s driving experience. There are three main routes of improvement – aerodynamics, resistance, and efficiency. While it not yet planned to bring the ECOnetic model to North America, some of the upgrade ideas are being looked at for future use.
4) Ford Partners with Google to Optimize Energy Efficiency. Ford is always looking for the next opportunity to anticipate the destination of a driver to they can optimize vehicle performance when it comes to driveability and fuel efficiency. After much research, Ford is looking to use Google API – a prediction program that will allow the conversion of information like historical driving data (when and where a driver travels) into real-time predictions. This cloud-based Google solution will use the profile of the driver to figure out information, including the times they travel and the routes they take. Google Prediction then anticipates the most likely destination and how to then optimize driving performance. The predicted route could then provide information such as electric-only driving.
5) Ford Partners with SunPower to Encourage Electric Vehicle Drivers to Continue to Drive Green. Since August 2011, Ford has begun collaborating with SunPower, a solar technology developer, to provide a rooftop solar panel system to those who own the zero-emissions Ford Focus Electric. It is part of the new “Drive Green for Life” program. The panels provide enough renewable power to compensate for the energy utilized in charging a car. It will produce approximately 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity yearly, which provides enough charge for 1,000 miles every month. The new program “Aims to reduce the total cost of owning an all-electric or plug-in vehicle. It will also help to lessen the environmental impact of charging electrically – around two-thirds of electricity in the United States is currently generated by coal or gas powered plants.”
6) The Energy Efficiency Efforts by Ford earn them their Sixth Energy Star Award. Ford earned their next Energy Star Award for Sustained Excellence from the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2011. Ford improved the energy efficiency of all their manufacturing facilities in the United States by two percent in the previous year, raining their total improved efficiency to 15 percent. Other energy efficiency improvements include the ability to measure daily and weekly production and non-production energy use, installation of energy efficient lighting systems, installed solar power generation system at the Michigan Assembly Plant.
7) Ford Wins 2009 Environmental Protection Award for Energy Efficiency. In 2009, Ford won an Environmental Protection Award for its Energy Efficiency measures. This includes updated heating systems, updated facility lighting systems, curtailing energy use throughout extended production shutdown periods, and “using flexible tooling to assemble multiple vehicles on the same production line, which requires less manufacturing floor space and optimizes plant utilization.”
8 ) In January 2011 Ford Unveiled its First All Electric Car. The brand new Ford Focus, which was on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas, Nevada Hilton, is one of the first zero-emissions vehicles currently available on the market. The Focus Electric will “Cover the majority of daily driving habits of Americans,” said CEO and President of Ford Motor Company, Alan Mulally.
9) In 2010 Ford Won the EcoGlobe Award for Technology. Ford won a very major environmental award for their technology allowing engines to be more energy efficient and utilize hybrid technology, including auto-start-stop and braking regen energy without the full cost of a true hybrid electric system. The award, in which only ten are presented yearly to outstanding environmentally friendly car solutions, was given to Ford for its Ford Fiesta ECOnetic.
10) New Ford Energy Efficient Shuttle Buses. In March 2011, Ford rolled out their Hydrogen V-10 E-450 buses in Columbia, South Carolina. This city is one of many around the world investing in hydrogen fuel cells to power public transportation systems. The bus is only one part of the one year program that assists in the city’s objective to transition all public transportation vehicles into hydrogen fuel by the year 2015.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at email@example.com