Ford teams up with Coca-Cola for renewable car fabric test image

In partnership with Coca-Cola, which uses pop-bottle technology to make fabrics for automobiles, Ford will unveil a “refreshing” research vehicle.

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.

“By using PlantBottle technology in a plug-in hybrid, Ford and Coca-Cola are showing the broad potential to leverage renewable materials that help replace petroleum and other fossil fuels, reducing the overall environmental impact of future vehicles,” said John Viera, Ford’s global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters.

Coca-Cola says PlantBottle has saved more than 400,000 barrels of oil since 2009.

“This collaboration with Ford demonstrates that PlantBottle technology can be applied anywhere PET plastic is traditionally used, but with a lighter footprint on the planet,” said Scott Vitters, Coca-Cola general manager of the PlantBottle packaging platform. “We are pleased to share this technology with Ford, and look forward to continuing to expand the application of PlantBottle technology.”

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, which is the plastic used in water bottles, fabrics and carpets.

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.