3 Ways Ketchup Can Help Ford ... And Drivers

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Jim Probasco, Benzinga Staff Writer

First, it’s important to establish that this isn’t a joke.

Ford (F) and Heinz have been exploring ways to make car parts out of ketchup. More specifically, the goal is to make car parts out of “by-products” of the ketchup-making process.

All this has led to several ways in which ketchup could become an important part of the car-making process.

Parts From Plants

Ketchup would still be ketchup. Peelings, stems and seeds, on the other hand, could become wiring brackets or cup holders, according to a joint news release from Ford and Heinz titled, “You Say Tomato – We Say Tom-Auto.”

That’s just the start. Over time, composite materials could be created to produce everything from panels to fabric for upholstery.

Enviro-Friendly

The more automakers like Ford rely on natural materials for the manufacturing process, the less they rely on petroleum, plastic and other less environmentally friendly materials.

The press release noted that the Ford/Heinz collaboration began nearly two years ago as part of a larger joint effort that also involved Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter & Gamble. The goal was the development of a “100 percent plant-based plastic that could be used to make everything from fabric to packaging and with a lower environmental impact than petroleum-based packaging materials currently in use.”

Cost Containment

Best of all, as Ford noted in a report issued last year, a manufacturing strategy based on seeking more uses for natural and environmentally friendly materials has "reduced the number of materials we specify and use, to maintain consistent quality and enable cost reductions."

Some of the cost reductions come indirectly from weight reduction, which can lead to better fuel efficiency.

The ability to achieve cost reductions, while demonstrating environmentally friendly manufacturing and materials processes, is clearly a winning combination for Ford.

Composting Your Car

One possible downside arrived in the form of several interesting online comments based on the organic nature of plant-based automobile parts. On Verge, WeeRedBird asked: “What will stop it (the car) from composting in the driveway?” Another reader suggested a solution in the form of “preservatives.”

SynLube took a more serious slant, noting that one of the unintended consequences of “going green” in the car manufacturing process was that new vehicles taste better to rodents, squirrels and other creatures than older ones made from petroleum-based plastics and other materials.

As efforts continue to use natural materials in the manufacturing process, attention will have to be paid to both of these issues.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



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