You’ve probably sat on it, built

with it, and maybe even eaten it, but did you know that your

car could be next to benefit from bamboo – one of the world’s

strongest natural materials?

Potentially Bamboo Vehicle Interiors

While investment in research has led to breakthroughs in new

materials like super strong carbon fiber and lightweight aluminum,

nature’s wonder material may have been growing all along and

as much as three feet in a day. Soon, some surfaces inside our

vehicles could be made from a combination of bamboo and plastic

to create super hard material.

“Bamboo is amazing,” said Janet Yin, a materials engineering

supervisor at Ford’s Nanjing Research & Engineering Centre. “It’s

strong, flexible, totally renewable, and plentiful in China and many

other parts of Asia.”

The benefits of bamboo have been recognized for more than a

century – Thomas Edison even experimented with it when making

the first light bulb. In building, its tensile strength (or how much it

can resist being pulled apart) is well known, as it can rival or even

better some types of metal. And, because it grows to full maturity

in just two to five years – compared to up to decades for other trees

– bamboo also regenerates easily.

Over the past several years, Ford worked with suppliers to evaluate

the viability of using bamboo in vehicle interiors and to make extra

strong parts by combining it with plastic. The team has found

that bamboo performs comprehensively better than other tested

synthetic and natural fibers in a range of materials tests, from

tensile strength tests to impact strength tests. It’s also been heated

to more than 212 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure it can maintain its


panda-bamboo-2The sustainable journey

While tests on bamboo continue, Ford is already making use

of sustainable and recycled materials. The company recently

announced it is working with Jose Cuervo® to explore the use

of the tequila producer’s agave plant byproduct to develop more

sustainable bioplastics to employ in Ford vehicles.

Ford uses several sustainable materials including:

• Kenaf, a tropical plant in the cotton family, is used in the

door bolsters of Ford Escape

• REPREVE fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles, diverts

more than 5 million plastic bottles from landfill annually.

Ford most recently introduced REPREVE in F-150

• Post-consumer cotton from denim and T-shirts is used as

interior padding and sound insulation in most Ford vehicles

• EcoLon post-consumer nylon carpeting is used as cylinder

head covers in Ford Escape, Fusion, Mustang and F-150

• Recycled plastic bottles are becoming floor carpeting,

wheel liners and shields in several vehicles including Ford

Transit and C-MAX

• Recycled post-consumer tires are used in seals and gaskets

• Rice hulls are used to reinforce plastic in Ford F-150

electrical harness

• Soy-based foams are used as seat cushions, seatbacks and

head restraints in Ford’s North American vehicle lineup

• Wheat straw is used in Ford Flex to reinforce storage bins

• Cellulose tree fibers are used in the armrest of Lincoln

MKX. Used to replace glass-filled plastic, this industry-first

material weighs 10 percent less, is produced 30 percent

faster, and reduces carbon emissions

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