Ford Motor Co. has a simple question: Can recycling be elegant?
With its Lincoln MKT concept car, the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker not only wants to make a statement for the design of premium-level cars, but it created that body with plastic panels using 85 percent post-consumer recycled content.
``You can see where we're trying to take things,'' said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, during the Jan. 14 introduction of the MKT at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Ford used Sabic Innovative Plastics' Xenoy iQ polycarbonate/polybutylene terephthalate resin for most of the body panels on the MKT, using the equivalent of 2,000 recycled PET bottles, said Chuck Jarrett, automotive platform manager for Sabic, formerly GE Plastics, of Pittsfield, Mass.
With Ford giving a ``green'' sheen to Lincoln luxury, it was important to finds ways to lighten the weight of the car as well as finding environmentally friendly materials, said Andy Fulham, a member of Ford's design team. Using the recycled polyester hit both goals, taking 104 pounds out of the car, compared to traditional materials, and also allowing more flexibility in shaping the car.
Xenoy is not alone. Ford used polycarbonate extensively for the windshield, back window and roof on the MKT, coupling the plastic with a glazing system from Sabic's Exatec LLC subsidiary to improve wear.
``For me as an exterior designer, this gave me a lot of freedom of design compared to regular shapes and forms,'' said Ford designer Xitij Mistry.
The car also would use plastics in places where consumers will never see it, including its Valox iQ in the electrical wires and connections.
The MKT marks the third concept car using Sabic's Xenoy in panels. A year ago, General Motors Corp. used it in its Volt electric car concept. South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. used it in the QarmaQ crossover concept.
The Lincoln moves the plastic up a notch to a potential use in the premium car market, with Fields noting that the car is: ``as environmentally friendly as it is elegant'' while Ford markets the concept as ``responsible luxury.''
Ford worked with Sabic engineers for about a year to understand the materials and create the concept, Fulham said.