The new resin, developed by BASF, allows Ford to skip the clear-coat paint traditionally applied to the molded plastic pieces around the window switches, saving cost and environmental impact during production. The high-gloss finish gives a fashionable look to the cars, Ford says, but also makes the plastic pieces tough and durable.
If Ford has used clear-coat paint on these parts, it would have required Ford’s supplier to ship parts from Kalamazoo, Mich., to Grand Rapids, Mich. This added step would have involved fueling and operating a fleet of trucks that emit tons of carbon dioxide. Subsequently applying a high-gloss finish to the parts would then emit VOCs into the atmosphere.
By using BASf’s mar-resistant resin, Ford eliminated this step.
The round trip between the plastic part molder in Vicksburg, Mich., and the painter in Grand Rapids is 128 miles, Ford says. It takes about 18 gallons of diesel fuel for the transport truck for each trip. The trip is made three days a week, which requires 54 gallons of fuel.
Presuming 50 weeks per year of production, this means Ford is saving 2,700 gallons of diesel and eliminating 59,400 pounds of CO2 from Fusion production each year.
This also saves the automaker 50 percent on the cost of the window switch trim, says Robert Bedard, body interior core engineer for Ford.
The 2013 Fusion has been named America’s most fuel-efficient midsize sedan. The EPA certified the car’s hybrid model to deliver 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway, 47 mpg combined. This beats the Toyota Camry by 8 mpg highway and 4 mpg city, Ford says.
A WWF report published earlier this month said BASF is among the large companies moving toward more sustainable business models and reaping economic rewards. In September, BASF partnered with the Seattle Mariners to debut compostable snack bags at a baseball game.