Sustainability 2011/12

Year in Review

Robert Brown

“A decade ago, a ‘great’ product – one that led in the marketplace – wasn’t necessarily a green one. Now, in an era of volatile fuel prices, consumers expect outstanding fuel economy as a given.“

Robert Brown

Dear readers,

I am pleased to offer my perspective as Ford’s new vice president for Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. Before taking on this role, I held a similar position in Ford’s European operations. My predecessor, Sue Cischke, very ably defined and developed Ford’s sustainability approach. During her tenure, sustainability moved from the periphery to the center of our strategy for succeeding in the marketplace and helping to address global challenges.

Our strategy is based on our One Ford plan, the outcomes of which we define as Great Products, Strong Business and Better World. Like everything in the sustainability arena, these three outcomes are inextricably linked and interconnected.

In a fiercely competitive global automotive market, it’s not enough to make good products. They have to be great. They have to leverage the latest technology, offer outstanding quality and reliability and excite the imagination of consumers. And they have to do this against the backdrop of varying regulations, infrastructure and consumer preferences around the world. We think our global vehicles – such as the Ford Fiesta and the Ford Focus – are doing just that. Great products lead to profitable growth and a strong business that continues to invest in innovation and the development of more outstanding products. This, in turn, sets the stage for Ford to contribute to a better world by reducing the footprint of our products and operations. We also contribute by generating employment and economic development and by joining with others to support strong communities and tackle a wide range of sustainability issues. Below I dig a little deeper into how sustainability fits into each of these areas.

Great Products

At Ford, we define great products as those that are high quality, green, safe and smart. That’s what consumers expect of us in markets all over the world. Over the past few years we have been working to deliver these attributes through our One Ford plan, which is transforming Ford into a company that not only has global presence, but global products. At the same time, the quality of our vehicles has steadily improved to a top-tier position.


A decade ago, a “great” product – one that led in the marketplace – wasn’t necessarily a green one. Now, in an era of volatile fuel prices, consumers expect outstanding fuel economy as a given. We have steadily cut the carbon footprint of the vehicles we produce, and we have measurably reduced their environmental footprint in myriad other ways, too. The following are among the steps we are taking.

  • Implementing our Blueprint for Sustainability’s technology and fuels plan, which sets out dozens of improvements that add up to substantial gains in fuel economy. For example, we are deploying 1.5 million EcoBoost™ engines globally by 2013; these engines deliver a 10 to 20 percent improvement in fuel economy over conventional petrol engines. In addition, we are bringing to market a range of hybrid, all-electric and plug-in electric versions of popular global vehicles, including the Focus and Fusion. The electric vehicles we offer cost less to operate than conventional vehicles, and electricity can be made from a variety of fuels, which helps to address energy security concerns.
  • Increasing the amount of renewable and recycled materials we use to make our vehicles. For example, all of our vehicles manufactured in North America have soy foam seat cushions and backs, a technology pioneered by Ford. We try to incorporate renewable and recycled materials in a thoughtful way, using analytical tools to ensure that, for a given application at a given manufacturing location, the alternative material delivers real environmental benefits.
  • Continuing to reduce tailpipe (non-CO2) emissions. Vehicles today are many times cleaner, in terms of emissions, than those of a few decades ago. But we are committed to making them cleaner still, while responding to tightening regulatory requirements, including California LEV III, Euro Stage VI and China Stage IV. Our improvements help to safeguard air quality and protect human health in congested urban areas.
  • Reducing our manufacturing footprint, including energy and water use and greenhouse gas emissions. During 2011 and early 2012, we set new targets for cutting water, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in our operations. We have developed a comprehensive water strategy that focuses our efforts in the areas of greatest water use and vulnerability to shortages.


We are developing new safety and driver assist technologies at a rapid rate. Technologies currently in use in our vehicles can help drivers maintain a safe following distance to the vehicle ahead of them, alert drivers to objects behind them while backing up and alert them if they’re drifting out of a lane, among other things. Many additional technologies are on the drawing board. These types of technologies are making driving new vehicles safer than ever. Already, our vehicles have earned a number of safety distinctions. For example,

  • To date in the U.S., Ford has earned more “Top Safety Picks” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – a total of 781 – than any other manufacturer in the seven-year history of that crash-testing program.
  • The new European Ford Ranger, designed by engineers in Ford of Australia, is the first and only pick-up to achieve a five-star rating in the European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP). It scored 89 percent for overall safety – the best score ever earned by a pick-up and one of the highest scores recorded by EuroNCAP for any type of vehicle. Moreover, the new Ranger achieved the highest rating (81 percent) of any vehicle ever tested by EuroNCAP for pedestrian protection.
  • The Ford Focus now has an industry-leading total of four EuroNCAP “Advanced Awards” for offering Lane Keeping Aid, Active City Stop, Forward Alert and Driver Alert technologies.
  • Our available rear-seat inflatable safety belts, which are an automotive industry exclusive, have won numerous awards.

Of course, sustainability challenges relating to vehicle safety go beyond the vehicles themselves. Encouraging safer driving is also essential, and we are doing that through our Ford Driving Skills for Life (FDSFL) program. FDSFL focuses on teen drivers in the U.S. and new drivers in other regions. The program has reached 50,000 people across Asia and Africa, with another 12,000 expected in 2012. In the U.S., 35,000 drivers participated in 2011 alone.


In many ways, cars these days are rolling computers. The technology onboard a vehicle helps us achieve all of our sustainability goals by monitoring and optimizing fuel use, alerting drivers to hazards, controlling passive safety technology – the list goes on. In addition, next-generation connected vehicles will open up new possibilities for vehicle-to-vehicle communications, which will enable safer roadways and reduce congestion, along with all the social and environmental costs related to it.

Strong Business

The success of our products allows us to continue to invest in innovation and product development – supporting a strong business in the present and for the future. A strong business is also one that looks ahead to the changes that will be needed to respond to a rapidly evolving global marketplace. We know that as the global population grows and standards of living rise, new modes of mobility will be needed in urban and rural areas alike. Designing and delivering innovative vehicles will continue to be important. But to contribute to solutions, we will also draw on other capabilities of our business, including our expertise in information technology and vehicle connectivity.

In early 2012, we set out our thinking on these topics in our Blueprint for Mobility, which outlines a series of steps we will take to contribute to developing and implementing new models of mobility that reduce environmental impacts and meet social needs.

Better World

From volunteering in our communities to greening our products and operations, many of the actions we routinely take across our company result in a better world.

In addition, a key part of our responsibility as sustainability leaders is to scan the horizon to identify sustainability risks and opportunities and respond effectively in a way that demonstrates leadership. A good example of this is the work we have done in the past decade to promote human rights and environmental responsibility in our supply chain. During 2011 we continued this work. Internally, we revised and renamed Policy Letter 24. This Policy is now named the Code of Human Rights, Basic Working Conditions, and Corporate Responsibility, reflecting its broad scope and applicability to our own operations and our supply chain. Externally, we have led efforts by the Automotive Industry Action Group to develop a comprehensive, industry-wide approach to social and environmental responsibility in the automotive supply chain.

We also developed a partnership with the U.S. Department of State, an Indian nongovernmental organization and an Indian government agency to conduct a pilot project aimed at improving health care for pregnant women in remote villages in India. The project, called Sustainable Urban Mobility with Uncompromised Rural Reach, demonstrates how we use our vehicles and connected technologies to contribute to a better world by addressing critical social needs, such as health care.

Building a sustainable future for all will require the continued integration of sustainability into our business, collaboration across sectors and the development of partnerships to achieve shared goals. It also requires continuing engagement with, and feedback from, our stakeholders. We hope you find this report interesting and informative, and we welcome your feedback.


Signature: Robert Brown

Robert Brown
Vice President, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering

  1. Historic totals include all brands and entities owned and controlled by the manufacturer during the 2006–2012 calendar years, including Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and – through the 2010 model year – Volvo. Totals do not include Mazda.