Ford and Coca-Cola team up to make renewable fabric for cars

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Click to see the show car

A refreshing research vehicle unveiled today by Ford in partnership with Coca-Cola that uses pop-bottle technology to make fabrics for automobiles.

Ford has outfitted a Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid vehicle with an interior of renewable fabrics developed using Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle technology, introduced in 2009 for plastic bottles. Up to 30% of the normally petroleum-based materials are replaced with plant-based materials.

The research car, which will be on display at the Los Angeles auto show that opens to the media next week, uses the new fabric in the seat cushions, backs and head restraint as well as the headliner and door panel.

This is the first use of PlantBottle outside of pop bottles and stems from a collaboration announced in June 2012 for companies such as Ford, Coca-Cola, Heinz and Nike to work on plastic substitutes not based on fossil fuels. The goal is to find a substitute for PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, which is the plastic used in water bottles, fabrics and carpets.

Ford created a fiber that can be woven into automotive-grade PET fabric. The fabric has the same look and feel as the material it replaces. The automaker will test its durability for an undetermined time period before deciding whether it will go into production.

Ford says if the process were used in interior fabrics across much of its lineup, it would replace 4 million pounds of petroleum-derived materials and save the equivalent of 295,000 gallons of gasoline and 6,000 barrels of oil. It complements other efforts such as using soybeans for seat cushions.

Corporate efforts at designs aiding recycling are praiseworthy. Maybe some of it will rub off on the company creeps who only concern themselves with exploiting natural and human resources.