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Ford Cuts Water Use 30% Two Years Ahead of Schedule

Ford has reached its goal to cut the amount of water used to make each vehicle by 30 percent worldwide two years ahead of schedule, according to the company’s 2013-2014 Sustainability Report.

Ford says it is furthering its commitment to aggressively step up water conservation programs at its global facilities and among its suppliers. Plans are underway to further cut water use by another 2 percent this year and to set new long-term goals.

In April, Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally endorsed the CEO Water Mandate to more clearly define the company’s mission. The private-public initiative launched by the UN Secretary General in 2007 requires participating companies to report their water management progress annually.

Later this year, Ford says it will begin asking high water-use suppliers and those working in water-stressed regions to voluntarily report water consumption. Ford will then work with the suppliers to achieve reductions. The hope is that successful initiatives will be mirrored by other suppliers globally, helping Ford to significantly reduce its environmental footprint.

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The automaker says it began strategically working to improve the company’s water impact globally in 2000 by setting year-over-year reduction targets as part of its Global Water Management Initiative. The success of the initiative is measurable: Not only has the company reached its water-use-per-vehicle goal two years ahead of schedule, it cut global water use by 61 percent, or by more than 10 billion gallons, between 2000 and 2013. That savings is the equivalent of 1 billion five-minute-long showers, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The total amount of water used around the globe at Ford facilities went from 64 million cubic meters per year to 25 million cubic meters.

Other highlights of Ford’s Sustainability Report include:

  • The sale of nearly 2.5 times more electrified vehicles in 2013 compared to 2012.
  • Ford’s actions to increase supply chain transparency and ensure the minerals in its products are sourced responsibly.
  • An 18 percent reduction of CO2 emissions in the European fleet between 2007 and 2013.
  • Ford’s priority to accelerate new product development. The 2014 global product launch features 23 new or significantly refreshed vehicles, the most of any year in a century.

One such initiative involves a partnership with Samsung to co-develop a dual-battery system for gas-powered cars that could offer significant fuel savings in future vehicles. The process combines a lithium-ion battery with a 12-volt lead-acid battery for a new power source that the companies claim could provide fuel savings by enabling regenerative braking in non-hybrid and non-electric vehicles. The system is the product of a 10-year research partnership into battery technology.

However, Ford still has areas in which it needs to improve. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently fined the company $2.96 million for violations of air-quality laws related to the sale of vehicles with non-compliant On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) systems in California.

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