Nearly 100 years after Ford unveiled the groundbreaking Model T, they’ve finally decided to again move along the alphabet. With a vehicle that is trying to be as much of a mould breaker as its predecessor was. The Model U is a prototype SUV. Lets ignore, for the moment, the question of whether the planet needs another such beast. And look instead at the innovations captured by the Model U. A vehicle that has felt the hand of Cradle-to-Cradle design guru William McDonough. The Marc Newson of green design - he’s everywhere!Firstly, to put your mind at ease the Model U is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell supercharged engine. Almost nil CO2 emissions and 25% more fuel efficient than a petrol (gasoline) engine. the equivalent of 45 mpg (5.2lt/100km)and about 300 miles (480km) of range. All without a loss in power output. A world first.
While some the other Model U developments, noted below, may not be world beaters, they hopeful show a shift in direction for the American automotive industry and may be possible world savers:
• recyclable polyester on seats, dash, steering wheel, headrests, door trim, and armrests.
• a corn-based biopolymer for the retractable canvas roof and carpet mats. (Watch those GMOs.)
• also corn-based fillers in the rubber tyres as a partial substitute for rubber black to improve rolling resistance and thus fuel economy
• soy-based composite resins form the rear tailgate and side panels
• soy-based composite foam for seating
• all the armrests are interchangeable for ease of maintenance and remanufacturing
• lightweight, recyclable aluminium body
• versatile body shape and design, converts from a sedan to a utility truck
Elsewhere at Ford they annually use more than 50 million plastic soft drink bottles to make automobile grill opening reinforcements, and about one billion bottle caps to make automotive heating and air conditioning components.