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Old 01-07-2003, 09:37   #1 (permalink)
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The Ford Model U is Ford Motor Co.s test bed for environmentally friendly technology.

Q&A: About the enviornmentally friendly Model U


Automotive News / January 06, 2003

Automotive News staff reporter Mary Connelly interviewed David Wagner, Model U technology project manager, about the eco-car.

Q. What is different about the Model U tires?

A. The filler in the tires is corn based. It is an example of some of the technology that is nearer term because we actually have this in production in Europe.

Q. On which vehicle?

On the Fiesta. We are doing continued work to see if we can add more of the corn filler and to get it to work well on larger and heavier vehicles.

Q.Who is the supplier?

A. Goodyear.

Q. How is the roof of the Model U different?

A. The roof is a corn-based fabric roof. It is a retractable sunroof. There is a paint story as well.

Q. What is the paint story?

A. The clearcoat paint, which is the protective top layer, is cured with ultraviolet light rather than heat. It uses a lot less energy than conventional paint. We are doing research with Akzo Nobel to look at this ultraviolet cure which takes far less time and uses far less energy.

Q. Are there also emission advantages?

A. Yes. It is a different paint chemistry that ends up with lower levels of volatile organic compounds.

Q. So this is something you are actively researching?

Everything on the Model U we have active research and development programs going on.

Q. What are some of the near-term technologies?

The tires are in production. A lot of the interior electronics are nearer term. And the four-point safety belts are very close.

Q. What interior electronics specifically?

The conversational voice control system. We have a serious development effort ongoing.

A. How is this different than what is available today?

In the Model U we are investigating and demonstrating a conversational speech. You don't have to memorize the exact command to turn on the radio, for example. It has a much larger vocabulary.

Q. What about the soy-based products in this vehicle?

On the outside, there is a soy-based resin for the rear tailgate. It is essentially the same type of material as sheet molding compound but it is soy-based instead of petroleum-based. On the inside, there is a soy-based resin for the foam on the seats. Those are two examples of using a renewable resource instead of a petroleum-based resource.

Q. What's eco about the interior fabric?

The base fabric and all of the materials used including the dyes, the flame retardant and the sizing have been cleared for human and environmental health. We're working with Milliken, a large upholstery manufacturer, on automotive applications.

Q. Where does the power come from?

The Model U is powered by a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine.
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