Ford wants to make car parts from tequila plant

Jose Cuervo uses 700,000 tonnes of blue agave every year to make Tequila

Ford and Jose Cuervo are collaborating to determine whether it would be possible to use leftovers from agave plants to create a bioplastic that could replace fiberglass or caulk, to be used in some of Ford’s car parts.

Agave plants (which are used to make tequila) are being tested for their durability and resistance to heat to determine whether the material could be used in car parts such as wiring harnesses, air conditioning units and storage bins. According to Ford, bioplastic could help reduce the weight and energy consumption of a vehicle, while also reducing pollution by using less petrochemicals.

“Agave is a good replacement and it’s lighter in weight,” said the company’s senior technical leader of the sustainability research department, Debbie Mielewski, in a comment to AFP. The average vehicle contains approximately 180kg of plastic, according to Mielewski, who was responsible for the deployment of soy-based foam in Ford car seats from 2001.

Jose Cuervo makes tequila by harvesting blue agave plants, discarding their outer leaves and roasting the “heart” of the plant to extract sugars that become alcohol. 40 per cent of the husk is discarded, according to the Tequila Regulation Council. Ford hopes to use these leaves to create moulded bioplastic.

Ford also uses discarded plant materials (rice husks) in its electrical harnesses.

The announcement of the collaboration between Ford and Jose Cuervo follows the growing trend of automobile companies looking into the use of plant materials in their car parts.