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Chrysler, Ford Seek Green Advances in Vehicles

fordlab2Chrysler, which has operated from bankruptcy since April 30, is seeking another lifeline from the government, as it submits a $448 million plan to accelerate development of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids by 2010. The plan calls for $83 million toward construction of a new technology and manufacturing center in Michigan that would be functional by 2010 and produce more than 20,000 vehicles a year, according to Reuters.

Chrysler is eyeing a Dodge Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid, a Chrysler Town & Country plug-in hybrid and a Chrysler Town & Country electric vehicle.

Meanwhile, America’s solvent moter company, Ford, is finding ways to incorporate recycled materials into its automotive interiors.

For instance, Ford is using recycled plastic bottles to make suede-like material for the fabric of some of its car seats, including the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO, Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ. The cars also will have the option of chromium-free leather and engineered ebony wood, according to a press release.

Ford is using soy-based polyurethane foams on the seat cushions and seat backs of the Mustang, Expedition, F-150, Focus, Escape, Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner and Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln MKS. Within a year after introducing the soy foam seats in 2007, Ford had installed them in more than 1 million vehicles, helping reduce petroleum oil usage by 1 million pounds annually, according to the release. This year, Ford will use the soy-foam for a headliner on the 2010 Escape and Mariner.

Ford is using post-consumer recycled resins such as detergent bottles, tires and battery casings to make underbody parts such as aerodynamic shields, splash shields, and radiator air deflector shields for all 2009 vehicles. In 2008, this project diverted nearly 30 million pounds of plastic from landfills.

“Wherever petroleum-based materials exist – in plastic, rubber, foam, film or fabric – we are looking to minimize its proportion and replace it with a sustainable material,” said Cynthia Flanigan, Technical Expert/ Ford Plastics Research.

Emerging research shows that more and more corporations and other entities are turning to hybrid cars for their fleets.

A study from Pike Research shows that global hybrid fleet sales will consist of more than 830,000 vehicles in 2015, up from 280,000 in 2008. By 2015, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles should comprise 21 percent of total hybrid fleet sales, according to a press release.

While corporations will make up a good chunk of the purchases by 2015, the study, “Hybrid Electric Vehicles for Fleet Markets”, notes that government, university and utility sectors will be the first adopters.

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