Truckmakers Emphasize 'Green' Initiatives

Fuel Economy II

By Tim Esterdahl

"Going green" is always good public relations for big companies, and it's also smart business, especially for the big truckmakers. Not only do pickup trucks have to battle the stereotype of being gas-guzzlers and disproportionate polluters, but the plants that make them are often characterized as eyesores and practitioners of wasteful practices. In reality, truckmakers are conscious of the environment and how their practices affect the communities in which they reside. We checked in with five of them to find out what they're doing to be responsible, environmentally conscious citizens.


Leading the pack is Ford with its new F-150 offering many green features, including aluminum body parts that can be recycled. So the F-150 goes full circle: A retired truck goes to scrap and comes back as new truck.

Also noteworthy is Ford's work with REPREVE technology, which transforms plastic bottles and other waste materials into usable materials. Ford uses this product in seats and other interior materials, and is currently using it in five vehicles worldwide including the 2015 F-150.

Additional recycled materials in the new truck include old blue jeans repurposed for sound insulation and discarded rice husks used to reinforce plastic in various wiring harnesses.


Most of GM's green initiatives are at the factory level. For example, the Fort Wayne, Ind., assembly plant, home to the Silverado and Sierra half-ton trucks, is an Energy-Star-certified facility as well as a landfill-free plant that uses underground landfill gas to power the entire facility. It also uses solar energy via roof-mounted panels, and a portion of the land is a dedicated wildlife habitat.

Additionally, plastic shipping aids, caps and plugs from suppliers and shipments to the assembly plant are recycled into radiator shrouds on both the Silverado and Sierra.


Ram's Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan recycles and reuses solvent wipe waste through a mobile fluid recovery system. The solvent wipes are used throughout the paint process to clean the vehicle. This may seem like a small item, but the plant generates 104 tons of wipes waste annually. The recovery process uses a centrifugal technology to spin the liquid waste out of the polypropylene wipe material. After spinning, the solvent wipe is tested, and if it's clean it is reused. The polypropylene material is collected and recycled into pellets used to create injection-molded plastic parts.

Ram also recycles supplier part packaging materials by collecting them and sending them back to the parts supplier at a discounted rate. Ram is expanding this program from seven packaging inserts to 11, with two more being tested. Last year, the Ram plant saved $110,000 and had an environmental savings of 934 trees, 25,578 gallons of oil (609 barrels), 166 cubic yards of landfill space and 387,024 gallons of water.


Toyota is also reducing its environmental impact at the plant level. Toyota's San Antonio facility uses recycled water instead of drawing from the nearby Edwards Aquifer. The aquifer is essential to the area and has had limits on pumping since the 1990s. By using nearly 1 million gallons of recycled water every day, the plant has significantly reduced its environmental impact on the area.

Also, the plant installed a regenerative thermal oxidizer in 2013 to improve energy efficiency and destroy the dangerous volatile organic compounds in the paint shop process. These compounds are part of the chemical makeup of smog.

Harmful VOC compounds can also be part of the "new car smell." This smell comes from the compounds emitted from plastics, leather, textiles, glues, sealants and additives. The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association recently set a high standard for the amount of VOCs that can exists in a vehicle's cabin and now all new Toyota Tundra cabins meet this standard.


Like the others, Nissan is working to make its production facilities more environmentally friendly. One of its key focuses is compressed air. This may sound strange, but Nissan uses compressed air for all sorts of processes from stamping to painting. Nissan says compressed air leaks are one of its greatest types of wasted energy — even above electrical losses.

In order to combat the leaks and reduce its energy consumption by upward of 25 percent, Nissan has a team of employees who continually use an air-leak detection tool. It looks like a high-powered microphone that senses and transforms inaudible sounds from compressed air leaks into ones an operator can hear with headphones and read in decibel levels. photo by Evan Sears




I guess everything helps.

Aluminum can be recycled, as can steel.....Not sure how that makes ford leading the pack??? Anyways....

As long as everybody realizes that global warming is a scam and we are paying out the you know what for something that is not a problem


Your "stewards" riff is fine, however... the radical environmental movement is not satisfied with you having nice feelings about their agenda. They want you and me, and our kids, to make sacrifices.

Not a ritual sacrifice mind you, instead they want to force doctrines on our public schools, our corporations and our communities.

In my area, Central Florida, the local greenies are using tax dollars to buy land for hiking trails at a time when the local authorities are cutting bus routes that leave the poor and the elderly vulnerable and without reasonable transportation options. Hiking?

I'm not impressed by this agenda. Instead I want the greens to lead by example. I'm waiting to see if they will.


This is not about politics--I never once mentioned Democrats or Republicans or whom to vote for.

There's a big difference between the utilitarian ideals of our grandparents, and the huge grievance industry that the conservation movement morphed into, about 30 years ago.

The very same second that college professors, NASA, and their lawyers got involved, it all went to hell. Many of today's greens actually say, with a straight face, that the world would be better off if the human race all died off.

The problem is, they aren't kidding.

What you old guys fail to understand is everything is NOT about you!
If you don't like the new trucks then I suggest find a good used one from the 1980's or 90's.
Funny how you guys spend $45K for a new truck then you complain about it at the same time you don't haul and tow anything.
Yea, I know you own it for the fame and prestige!
I am a real man that works outside all day and my truck is my tool I depend on and they are designing the new trucks for girly men like you !
It makes me sick watching how nice and clean the majority of the trucks are out there! My truck is stained with mud on the outside and inside.
PUTC should do a story and try to follow me around all day to see how real men use their trucks to their limits.

I do think vehicle manufacturers use of wording can distort or give the impression of something that it isn't.

For example "Eco", how can Ford use "Eco" for the a range of engines?

Is a large 3.5 litre, twin turbo engine moving over 5 000lbs of vehicle "Eco" from an ecological perspective? No.

Or is it "Eco"nomical? No.

FCA uses "Eco" for it's diesel. Is the "Eco" diesel an ecologically sound engine. No.

But, I do think in comparison to an EcoBoost it's economical.

I remember back in the 80s, turbo was thrown around quite a bit like "Eco" is now.

"Eco" will eventually be replaced with another beat up expression by the marketers.

I'd bet GM received some form of handout to install solar panels and the landfill plant.

That's the problem with green, too many handouts are needed before the hordes will use it.

I suppose it sells and the consumer is duped into believing they are doing something positive, when in fact there are easier ways to save energy.

Try starting in your own homes first. More energy could be saved in the home easier with very little or no technology other than common sense.

I don't see anything wrong with the above article and I am glad the manufacturers are going their part. It only makes sense to recycle and reuse. I recycle most of my household items and even my county where I live has recycling bins at most of the schools and their governmental offices and I live in a conservative Republican area. County prisoners sort through the recycling and the county uses the additional revenue for their budget. My parents and their parents reused items till they were no longer usable including tin cans, plastic containers, and etc and they were far from being greenies. My parents were frugal and drove their vehicles 10 plus years and sent all 4 of their children to college without loans or scholarships.

I wish the manufacturers would emphasize "reliability" initiatives before "green" initiatives.

I'm not sure how Ford leads the pack here... Steel can be recycled as well as aluminum.

GM on the other hand, is a zero landfill facility, is energy star certified, and uses Solar and landfill gas for power. In my book, that's far more green than the recycling of aluminum.

@ the author: You gave Ford credit for their reuse of materials; thank you, but you left out the sustainability of their plant. The Rouge plant that builds the F150 has the largest green roof in North America. It also has skylights to save energy and many other features. I do not remember them all. Please come to Dearborn and take the Rouge factory tour. It will provide you with even more information.

I am glad to see folks realizing that sustainability is a good business initiative too. We have a lot more green buildings here in Boise too since we have so much sunlight every year, geothermal potential, etc.

I think Ford being a "leader" as the auther put it has to do with aluminum being able to be recycled an infinite number of times (I know they don't use pure aluminum but the concept is there). the steel parts can be recycled a set number of times and usually with a degradation in quality each time. There are still a lot of uses for the lower grade steel and I suspect all the automakers recycle what they can since that is an expensive resource.

By recycling aluminum it saves about 75% on the cost of refining new aluminum which is a big deal in terms of how much electricity is generated, so on and so forth.

I give kudos to the other commentors about their stewardship of the planet. It reminds me of the native american proverb that goes something like this: "we do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children."

Whether one believes in the science of climatology or not all of us should want to live in a clean and save place.

stewardship is a good thing, but this is more like a religion for the left. Green is the new communist red. I hate that Oregon libs just raised the gas tax 30 cents a gallon for offsetting carbon or some crap. It will cost a rural family like mine hundreds of dollars a month.

@Jeff S,
Recycling has been around since man walked the planet.

It does make sense, but I don't really view it as a "green" issue.

Everyone recycles without realising it.

waste not want not

Now how about we do something about all that trash

Nice to see all the truck makers doing something to minimize environmental pollution.

It's not about being a good environmental steward to the 'greens', it's about controlling the population. Green is the new Red. Wake up America!

@Big Al--They didn't always call it recycling, it was called reusing or "waste not want not." My parents came of age in the Great Depression and my grandparents went through it. My granddad had an old Pontiac he overhauled the engine himself several times and kept it running through the Great Depression and WW II. My father was so tight that he put a steel garbage can lid on the bottom of his steel grill after the bottom of the grill had rusted out and was one big hole with wobbly wheels which he would wire together. My dad use to wire his lawnmower wheels on and use pieces of tin cans he would cut out on after the holes that held them on rusted out. He had a 62 Chevy II I drove in high school that had holes in the floor board that he had me hammer out the ridges of an old piece of sheet metal he found discarded and use it to patch the floor. The patch worked but every time I moved my foot on the accelerator it went click click. The cloth ceiling on the Chevy II was torn and falling apart so I glued it together inserting shirt cardboard where there were holes, painted it with Rustoleum and cut happy faces out of material left from my sisters dress and glued them to the ceiling. It actually looked pretty good and the gals really like it. I could write a whole book about my father and his reusing which drove my mother nuts. Ever see dress pants with patches on them and patches on the patches used for yard work with old dress shoes that had the same thing? That was my father. Seersucker pants were his favorites with a safety pin to hold the front together. So yes it was always green to recycle but it was very frugal.

Correction--it wasn't always green to recycle but it was very frugal.

In other news today... I spotted a VW Amarok with manufacturer plates driving around VW's offices in Auburn Hills, MI.Any ideas Mark on why they are testing an Amarok here in the states? Is VW changing their mind about bringing it here? I will admit that SUV that they want to build in Tennessee looks very similar to the front end of the Amarok.

Here's a real green initiative.

Why hasn't PUTC been onto this, as it's quite an important piece of US pickup news.

Ram, eat your heart out! The FE is absolutely awesome for a full size half ton. Have a read of this cut and paste.


The end result after four years of work is this 362-lb. 2.8-liter engine that features an aluminum block, head and oil pan, a magnesium valve cover and an engine-mounted emissions control system. Altogether, Ruth said that Cummins’ ATLAS engine, including its on-engine aftertreatment system, weighs in at approximately 80 lbs. lighter than the all-aluminum gasoline-powered V8 in replaced in the Titan test truck.

He added that Highway Fuel Economy Test (HFET) and FTP-75 Test (city) cycles showed that the 2.8-liter could attain fuel economy of over 35 miles per gallon (mpg) and 25.5 mpg, respectively -- approximately a 53% increase in CAFE fuel economy as compared to the gasoline V8’s fuel economy of 18.9 mpg.

Just as critical, Ruth noted that the new 2.8-liter’s emissions are lower than the Tier 2/Bin 2 GHG levels.


Where is PUTC???? Geez.

I suppose it isn't from the "Big 3", just like our midsizers, which much of what we have ends up in the US.

The comments to this entry are closed.