Lincoln has introduced tree-based components inside the 2014 Lincoln MKX crossover. The alternative to fiberglass, tree-based renewable components is a result of a three-year collaboration between The Lincoln Motor Company, Weyerhaeuser and Johnson Controls. Using tree-harvested natural fibers, Weyerhaeuser created Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene, which is lighter and more eco-friendly than fiberglass.
Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene will be introduced on the 2014 Lincoln MKX vehicles that will be built early next year. Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene replaces the fiberglass material used in the floor console armrest substrate, which is a structural piece placed within the center console armrest. Pieces made from Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene are around 6 percent lighter, and cuts dependence fiberglass parts, which are less-environmentally friendly.
The use of Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene -- currently used in small components -- marks a technological innovation that could play a more influential role in the future, according to Ellen Lee, plastics research technical expert for Ford Motor Co.
The 2014 Lincoln MKX marks the first time Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene was used inside a vehicle. Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene will replace the fiberglass material that has been traditionally used for the floor console armrest substrate. This is the structural piece that is found in the center of the console armrest. Materials made from CRP are generally lighter by 6% ensuring that reliance on fiberglass parts that are less environment-friendly is lessened.
While the utilization of Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene remains small in the present model, this is still a good indication of the advancement and the possible role that it can play to a more impactful future. Ellen Lee explains that if it is used on larger parts, it has a good benefit with regards to the weight of the vehicle and in turn the fuel economy of the car. Lee is Ford Motor Company’s technical expert for plastic research.
Since cellulose was found to be a good reinforcement, the company looked at fiberglass-reinforced materials, Lee added. Though CRP has been used by Ford in the past for its prototype vehicles, being part of the Lincoln MKX celebrates its first use on a Ford production vehicle. According to Dan Brady, the consumer marketing manager for the Lincoln, many of its customers are people who not only appreciate luxury but also want a car to have meaning in the larger scheme of things.
These customers want to be proud of their car not just because of what it can do for them but also because they want something sustainable. Brady adds that customers do not simply want a car that has a very stunning design but one that has other features like being environment-friendly. Brady concludes that the addition of this eco-friendly element makes the Lincoln MKX unique and gives a better context in buying a luxury item.