2014 Lincoln MKX to have tree-based components

Article by Anita Panait, on January 6, 2014

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.

Press Release

2014 Lincoln MKX Introduces Tree-Based Alternative to Fiberglass for Interior Parts

While many Lincoln MKX drivers may tie a tree to the top of their vehicle this time of year, 2014 will see the MKX crossover with tree-based components inside the vehicle.

A three-year collaboration between The Lincoln Motor Company, sustainable solutions pioneer Weyerhaeuser and auto parts supplier Johnson Controls has culminated in the creation of a tree-based, renewable alternative to fiberglass for use in auto parts.

Using tree-harvested natural fibers in place of traditional glass-based fibers, Weyerhaeuser created Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene. The use of Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene – lighter and more eco-friendly than fiberglass – in a production vehicle is slated for introduction on 2014 model year Lincoln MKX vehicles built early next year.

Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene replaces the fiberglass material traditionally used in the floor console armrest substrate – a structural piece located within the center console armrest. Pieces made from CRP are roughly 6 percent lighter, and decrease the reliance on less-environmentally friendly fiberglass parts.

The use of Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene, while relatively small in the current project, marks an advancement that has the potential to play a more impactful role in the future, explained Ellen Lee, plastics research technical expert for Ford Motor Company.

"If we transfer its use to larger parts, it could really benefit the vehicle weight, which benefits fuel economy," Lee said. "Cellulose has good reinforcement, so we looked at fiberglass-reinforced materials for this project."

Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene has been used on Ford Motor Company prototype vehicles in the past, but its use on Lincoln MKX marks its first application on a production vehicle.

"Today's Lincoln customer is someone who appreciates luxury but it has to have meaning in the larger picture," said Dan Brady, Lincoln consumer marketing manager. "They want to be proud of their car for what it does for them but they also want a sustainability that provides something more. This customer is about an automotive brand that has stunning design as well as personal bonus such as an environmentally impactful element."

Brady says the added element of eco-friendly is unique and provides context to the purchase of a luxury item.

MKX is built at Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

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