Ford could replace up to 50% of rubber in vehicles with Guayule shrubs
Cars use a lot of rubber. For instance, the interior of the Ford Fiesta contains about 3 kg of the material, without including the tires. Most of that rubber comes from international sources, resulting in higher prices and CO2 emissions. Therefore, due to the extreme price fluctuations characterizing natural rubber, ranging from $1 to $4 per pound, and a desire to lower each vehicle’s environmental footprint, Ford is searching for a more sustainable domestic rubber source. The company has experimented with:
- Orange oil
- Soybean oil
Guayule, a shrub grown in Arizona, is one of the most promising alternatives, as it is already being used in high-performance gear like wetsuits, medical gloves and more. To test the viability of using the plant’s leaves for automotive industry applications, Ford is partnering with Ohio State.
Although additional research must be conducted to determine how much rubber could be conserved by switching to an alternative source like guayule, Ford estimates that it could be as much as 50 percent, depending on the part of the car. An expert at Ford’s elastomers research anticipates that the company could have an alternative rubber prototype within the next year.