Archive for February 2011
Ford calls its sustainability report for the 2009/10 period the “future at work,” and for a relatively short 8-page document, it outlines a surprisingly broad and—OK I’ll admit it—visionary strategy for the future of the company and alternative energy vehicle production.
The company says it is “steadfastly focused on creating a strong business that builds great products that contribute to a better world,” the way it has been able to weather difficult economic times is because it’s business and sustainability strategies are aligned and intertwined.”
While Ford’s much-ballyhooed “ONE Ford” plan, which began in 2007, is mostly about aggressive restructuring and accelerated product development, sustainability is a key part of the mix, especially the accelerated product development part.
Ford says it has developed a “science-based global strategy” to reduce GHG emissions and processes while “working cooperatively with the public and private sectors to advance climate change solutions.”
In 2008 the carmaker set a target to reduce CO2 emissions from new U.S. and European vehicles by 30 percent by 2020, relative to the 2006 model-year baseline. Ford also set a “technology migration plan” for near-, mid- and long-term product plans to meet that goal. The company says it is “on track” to surpass that 30 percent CO2 reduction goal.
In 2009 and early 2010 Ford reduced CO2 emissions from its new 2009 models by 12 percent for U.S. vehicles and 6.7 percent for European vehicles. Among a host of progress points in 2009/10, Ford said it was delivering on a 2006 pledge to double the number of flexible-fuel vehicles produced in the United States by the end of 2010. Ford also committed to introduce five new electrified vehicles in Europe by 2013, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicles that will also be introduced in North America by 2012.
The company this month unveiled a battery electric version of the Focus,which will debut in 2012.
Ford noted that the shift to EVs will “require unprecedented levels of collaboration and partnership” between automakers, government officials, utilities, transportation providers and IT companies. “A wide range of stakeholders will need to work together to develop charging infrastructure, integrate electric vehicles with electric utilities, and knit vehicles and grids together into an efficient system,” Ford says.
The company revealed it is collaborating with Microsoft on new energy management software that will help owners of plug-in EVs determine when and how to recharge their vehicles, “while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand.” Now there’s an app for the EV age.
Over the 2020-2030 period, Ford’s vision is for “volume expansion of hybrid technologies, “continued leverage” of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (whatever that means), introduction of fuel cell vehicles and increased use renewable fuels, clean electric/hydrogen fuels.
A surprising observation by the company is that “by 2050, there will be nine billion people on Earth, 75 percent of whom will live in urban areas. Putting nine billion people into private automobiles is neither practical nor desirable.”
There’s a switch, a company that doesn’t want to sell its products to every person on the planet.
It’s very possible that short sea shipping, long touted as an economically viable and environmentally sound option for transporting domestic cargo and products, is not all it’s cracked up to be from an eco-friendly perspective, according to a Friends of the Earth report.
Short sea shipping is the regional transport—on lakes, bays, rivers, canals and coastlines—of freight by ship and tug and barge units, rather than by truck or railcar.
FOE’s report, funded by the San Francisco Foundation, says the environmental consequences of increased short sea shipping have not received enough scrutiny, especially with regard to potentially harmful health and environmental effects. Read the rest of this entry »