It makes sense that car companies which want to be known for producing eco-friendly cars would produce them at eco-friendly factories. Here’s how Kia, Ford, Jeep, Nissan, VW and GM are greening their production facilities in the USA and around the world:
As we all know, trees soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Kia has planted five million trees at its manufacturing plants around the world, which soak up the equivalent of 107.5 million tons of CO2 a year.
The greening of Kia factories includes the US facility in West Point, Georgia, where the best-selling Sorento SUV and Optima mid-size sedan are produced, plus Kia factories in Korea, China, Europe and Slovakia.
The interior of the Kia Soul EV is 10% bio degradable plastic, bio-foam and bio-fabric. Unlike plastics based from oils, bio-based materials are derived from eco-friendly materials.
Ford has mandated 25% recycled content for all its models since 2009, and uses more than 30 fabrics which meet that requirement, and uses about one million yards of recycled fabric each year. Fabric in the Ford Focus EV is made from recycled water bottles. Recycling reduces waste, along with energy consumption.
Ford also uses soy-based bio-foam in seat cushions, head restraints and headliners. Soy foam costs less to produce than traditional petroleum-based materials, uses less petroleum to produce, and produces about 15% less carbon dioxide emissions. All good. And Ford spent millions to make its Rouge Center not just green, but LEED certified green.
Jeep uses soy-based acoustic foam in Cherokee models. The foam is lighter and less expensive than oil-based foam, which benefits both production cost and fuel economy.
Ford also has switched to what’s called a 3-Wet paint process, which gets its name from applying primer, base coat and clear coat while each layer is still wet. That process saves close to 25% of time it takes to paint a vehicle, reducing assembly line costs. Equally important, the process results in significant reductions of CO2, along with reductions in volatile organic compounds, known as VOC.
Nissan works with the City of Detroit to plant trees in parks, schoolyards and along neighborhood streets and roadways. Since 2012, working with the non-profit group Greening of Detroit, the program has planted more than 70,000 new trees. Nissan also donated a Titan truck to help with the project. Nissan also has a wind farm at its factory in Mexico.
Nissan switched to solar power recently for its factory in Sunderland, UK. The Nissan solar farm is made up of 19,000 photo-voltaic panels, installed alongside ten wind turbines. Nissan makes its Leaf EV and its batteries here, making this a green car produced by green energy. The new Nissan paint shops also are more energy efficient, and use reduced VOC compounds.
VW also uses solar power for its factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., which also happens to be the world’s first LEED certified auto manufacturing facility, where the Passat is produced. The factory opened in 2011. The solar installation opened two years later. It covers 33 acres with nearly 34,000 solar modules and produces more than 13 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power a year, enough to power 1,200 homes.
GM uses solar energy to power EV charging stations for employees and visitors to its facilities, including at the GM Shanghai headquarters complex. And there’s a bike-sharing program for more than 19,000 employees to commute to, and get around inside, the sprawling 330-acre Warren Technical Center in Michigan. GM also has a program to work with suppliers to design parts with less scrap waste, and ship them in containers with less cardboard waste.
Going green is more than a fad. It’s helping sustain the bottom line along with the environment. That’s a win win for all of us.