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Cars back up in rush hour traffic as they approach the Place de la Concorde in Paris as pollution levels in the city reach a high level after several days of unusually warm weather April 19, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau

EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Ford’s vision of a more sustainable future

10 July 2015

In this set of answers, we hear from Ford’s John Viera, Global Director, Sustainability & Vehicle Environmental Matters, on what the future holds across Ford’s operations and supply chain.

Sustainability: Please describe how you are reducing the environmental impact from the use of your product.

Mr. Viera:  During the last five years, Ford has implemented a range of high-efficiency ICE powertrain offerings across the entire fleet. Since the initial deployment of EcoBoost in 2009, we have produced more than 5 million EcoBoost-equipped vehicles globally. EcoBoost technology combines smaller overall size with turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve timing to bring customers good performance and fuel economy. Ford EcoBoost engines deliver up to 20 percent better fuel economy than larger-displacement gasoline engines. The solution is now available on all our models in North America, as well as in every one of our operating regions globally. This resulted in 9 percent reductions in CO2 emissions compared to 2009 through our combined fleet, as well as 2 percent improvements in fuel economy. EcoBoost is a key element of our long-term powertrain strategy and we will continue to improve its efficiency and vehicle application potential, while improving the overall costs of this technology.

Sustainability:  How about in the area of vehicle electrification?

Mr. Viera: Ford has been offering hybrid vehicles for more than a decade, and in recent years we have been implementing an expanded, comprehensive electric vehicle strategy. As part of these efforts, we’ve introduced EV options on our mainstream mid-size vehicle platforms, aligning with the growing public interest for these models:

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-inHybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) 

  • During the next three to five years, we will continue to refine offerings, work on infrastructure and charging opportunities and respond to challenges with affordability as North American consumers see lower fuel prices.

HybridElectric Vehicles (HEVs)

  • In recent years, Ford has introduced multiple mainstream high volume platforms, which resulted in 9 percent reductions in CO2 emissions since 2009 and 2 percent improvements in fuel efficiency. In the coming years, we will continue to increase our hybrid capability across our highest-volume global vehicles platforms, deploying our alternative and efficient powertrain.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Vehicles (FCVs)

  • Ford has been working on fuel cell vehicle development and technology demonstration for many years and has completed development and laboratory validation for several generations of fuel cell technologies. Ford will continue fuel cell research to further develop FCVs.

Sustainability: How does “Light-Weighting” factor into your strategy?

Mr. Viera:  Ford has developed aluminum intensive body technology for high volume application and implemented on the F150 model for up to 700 lb weight savings. By substituting lightweight materials such as advanced high-strength steels, aluminum, magnesium, and natural fibers materials, we have been able to not only reduce the overall weight of our vehicles, but also improve their fuel economy, without compromising safety or performance. In the coming years, we will apply what we’ve learned with F150 to other major vehicle upgrades. This will allow us to further increase weight savings, while providing improved efficiency and class leading features across our fleet.

Sustainability: How are you using “sustainable materials” or recycled content?

Mr. Viera: Since 2009, Ford has been using post-industrial or post-consumer recycled content in most of the new or redesigned North American vehicles. These applications include soy-based seat foams across the entire product line, as well as wheat straw, coconut, cellulose, and rice hull on select pilot projects. An example of these efforts is our use of REPREVE fiber, a fully sustainable material made of recycled plastic, which will help us divert more than five million plastic bottles from landfills. This fabric will be incorporated into 2015 F150 vehicles and is already featured in four other models worldwide. In the coming years, we plan to deploy cellulose and other materials across more applications and vehicles, as well as continue to test other types of content.

Sustainability: In terms of supply chain, please describe how you are leading your industry in terms of exceeding regulatory requirements to drive more sustainable practices.  Please give some specific examples of what and how you are doing this.

Mr. Viera: Ford relies on thousands of suppliers to provide the materials, parts and services necessary to make our final products. We promote long-term relationships with our suppliers and seek alignment with them on sustainability-related issues such as human rights, working conditions and environmental responsibility. We leverage the scale of our supply chain to make a positive impact in the markets in which we do business globally. Our goals to control costs, improve quality, and meet sustainability targets require strong relationships and shared commitments with our suppliers.

We proactively engage our supplier partners to develop a sustainable supply chain. Specifically, we:

  1. Communicate our expectations to our suppliers
  2. Assess our suppliers for environmental and social performance
  3. Build our suppliers’ capability
  4. Collaborate with industry and cross-industry organizations to develop common solutions in a non-competitive environment

In 2014, key activities that met and exceeded regulatory requirements include:

  • 280 suppliers in six high-priority countries were trained on corporate social responsibility.
  • 75 assessments were conducted at our supplier sites, with corrective action plans and remediation underway.
  • Ninety-five percent of our production Aligned Business Framework (ABF) suppliers have a code of conduct aligned with Policy Letter 24, our Code of Human Rights, Basic Working Conditions and Corporate Responsibility.
  • Nearly 1,400 of our global Supplier Technical Assistance (STA) staff and 175 new Purchasing personnel were trained internally on corporate social responsibility.
  • We launched a new supply chain sustainability initiative called the Partnership for A Cleaner Environment (PACE), to share best practices for energy and water use reductions with suppliers.
  • We surveyed approximately 250 suppliers through the CDP Supply Chain questionnaires for water and climate change and achieved an 80 percent voluntary response rate.
  • We participated in and led numerous industry and cross-industry forums on corporate responsibility.

Sustainability: Please describe how you show leadership on sustainability in a time of relatively low carbon fuel costs, preferably with some examples which exceed regulatory requirements.

Mr. Viera: Even at a time when fossil fuel prices are low, consumers are entitled to choose to reduce their costs at the gas station and drive fuel-efficient vehicles. For this reason, we intend to keep expanding our EcoBoost offerings across our nameplate globally, while also supporting our advanced powertrains and alternative-fuel vehicle options. We also work cooperatively with the public and private sectors to advance climate change solutions and we are taking a holistic approach to reducing the environmental impacts of our manufacturing facilities.

To drive continuous improvement, we have aggressive global facility environmental targets that address the range of our environmental impacts, including energy use, emissions, water use and waste generation. We made progress toward each of these goals in 2014:

  • We reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from our manufacturing facilities per vehicle produced by 2.4 percent compared to 2013.
  • We reduced our absolute water use by 3 percent and our water use per vehicle produced by 1.25 percent from 2013 to 2014. We met our 2015 target to reduce water use per vehicle produced two years early and are in the process of updating our global manufacturing water strategy and goals.
  • We reduced waste to landfill per vehicle produced by 21 percent compared to 2013.

Sustainability: Please describe/imagine for us the Ford fleet 50 years from now.

Mr. Viera: As the world population continues to grow, more and more people will be living closely together, and the number of vehicles on the roads worldwide is expected to exceed 2 billions by 2050. For this reason, our plans for the future are to build smart cars that will improve the driving experience and help guide drivers to their destination—avoiding a global gridlock that would stifle economic growth. By building smart roads, smart parking, and smart public transportation systems, we as a society can create an integrated transportation network that uses real-time data to optimize personal mobility. Through our Ford Smart Mobility Plan, we are working on the Ford fleet of the future—fully autonomous vehicles, combined with vehicle connectivity, available for everyone. We have fully autonomous vehicles in development for the future, with research vehicles already on the road.

 

Any opinions Expressed in "Executive Perspectives" are those of external parties and not those of Thomson Reuters.

Topics

Corporate Governance, Executive Perspective

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