Environmentally conscious auto manufacturing just got a shot in the arm—or rather, a shot of tequila. Ford and Jose Cuervo are teaming up to turn agave plant byproduct from tequila into plastic cup holders, fuse boxes and wiring for Ford cars and trucks.
The project is part of Ford's #FarmtoCar campaign, an initiative that aims to replace petroleum-based plastics with plant-based materials in Ford's vehicles. Used agave fibers are shipped from Jose Cuervo's tequila fields in Mexico to Ford's plants in Dearborn, Mich., and Ford's researchers are testing the fibers' durability and heat resistance for use in wiring harnesses, storage bins and other car parts. The bioplastic made from the agave byproduct could reduce the weight of car parts, which would help improve fuel economy.
"There are about 400 pounds of plastic on a typical car," said Debbie Mielewski, Ford's senior technical leader of sustainability research department, in a statement. "Our job is to find the right place for a green composite like this to help our impact on the planet. It's work that I'm really proud of, and it could have a broad impact across numerous industries."
The effort reinforces Jose Cuervo's commitment to sustainability, as well, said Sonia Espinola, director of heritage for the Cuervo Foundation, in a statement. "Jose Cuervo is proud to be working with Ford to further develop our agave sustainability plan. … This collaboration brings two great companies together to develop innovative, earth-conscious materials," she said.
Ford began researching the use of sustainable materials in vehicles in 2000. Over the past few years, it's also worked with Heinz to produce bioplastic material from tomato fibers and Coca-Cola to produce plant-based vehicle materials for car interiors.