Eliminating Substances of Concern
We use a range of systems to monitor and manage the materials we use in our vehicles. These help us ensure our products meet all relevant local and global regulations, and phase out substances of concern where economically and technically feasible.
Phasing Out Restricted Substances
We were one of the first automotive companies to start eliminating a number of chemicals1 being monitored by governments around the world, including the EU, U.S., Canada, Japan and China.
We have a phase-out requirement for all EU REACH-restricted substances that have reached or are approaching their sunset dates – the dates after which a substance of concern cannot be used in the EU without authorization from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
We also advise relevant governmental agencies about ongoing developments in global substance restrictions such as the Stockholm Convention.
We have made notable progress in:
- Phasing out hex chrome (hexavalent chromium), a potential carcinogenic corrosion coating used on nuts, bolts and brackets
- Replacing lead wheel weights throughout our global operations with steel alternatives
- Eliminating mercury from all components
- Offering brake pads that contain less copper, because copper degrades on use and can end up in the water cycle through urban drainage systems
Driving Collective Action
Taking a strong role in our efforts to eliminate less desirable chemicals, we lead or chair several industrial association working groups, including:
- The U.S. Council for Automotive Research’s North America Automotive Substances of Concern Committee
- The Automotive Industry Action Group’s Chemical Management and Reporting Group
- The Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL) Steering Group
- ACEA’s (EU car manufacturer association) working group on Materials and Substances
Rare Earth Elements
Monitoring and Managing Materials
Restricted Substance Management Standard (RSMS): The RSMS designates the substances to be restricted or eliminated from our operations and vehicles
International Material Data System (IMDS): This web-based tool, sponsored by around 40 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), is used by more than 100,000 automotive supplier companies to track, review and report the materials and substances in vehicle components
Global Materials Management (GMM): Our materials and substances tracking and reporting tool
Global Material Approval Process (GMAP): System for reviewing and approving the production and non-production materials used in our plants and facilities
Materials and Toxicology System (MATS): Our internal database for managing specifications, Material Safety Data Sheets and Approved Source List, and for generating compliance reports
Small quantities of the 17 so-called “rare earth elements” (REEs) are used in internal combustion engines, while neodymium and dysprosium are used in magnets in motors and generators. Cerium is used in vehicle exhaust control systems, and small amounts of other REEs are used in a variety of vehicle components. Our hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs) also contain REEs.
REEs are hard to extract, both economically and sustainably, and we’re actively engaged in reducing their use, particularly in our electric vehicles.
Promoting Occupant Health
- Due to environmental factors (moisture, temperature, etc.), vibration or abrasion, nanoscale materials may pose risks to human health and the environment – not just through exposure during manufacturing and processing but across their entire life cycle
- Our guidelines direct safe and responsible research involving nanotechnology, and require environmental considerations to be incorporated into our technical innovations and product development
- We have specifications for the air quality in our vehicles
- Our engineers test the materials that come into direct contact with passengers for any allergen impacts
- Many of our vehicles also feature high-performance filters that keep out allergenic pollens
- The Allergy Alert® app enables drivers to check pollen levels and other health-risk conditions with simple voice commands
In-Car Health and Wellness
- We are exploring how wearable devices, including smart watches and fitness bands, can be used to assess driver stress by measuring heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature
- Working with medical companies and auto insurers, we’re exploring whether monitoring driver wellness could reduce insurance premiums
- We are collaborating with the Henry Ford Health System on a health and wellness app challenge
- Partnerships with the University of California Berkeley, Peking University and Tsinghua University are seeking to better understand the sources of emissions near roads and how to quantify them