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Ford turns Maccy D's coffee waste into parts - the week

By Graeme Roberts | 6 December 2019

Fords new process can use McDs waste coffee chaff in plastic parts

Ford's new process can use McD's waste coffee chaff in plastic parts

Ford has been experimenting with ways to make plastics since Henry's experiments with soybeans back in the 30s and 40s so I was intrigued to learn this week a byproduct of coffee bean roasting at McDonald's will soon be used by the automaker to make vehicle parts such as headlamp housings.

Having in a previous life worked in the plastics industry, anything new in that line intrigues me. The two household names have teamed up to use millions of pounds of coffee chaff – the dried skin of the bean – which naturally comes off during the roasting process. A "significant portion of that material" will be converted into a durable material to reinforce certain vehicle parts. By heating the chaff to high temperatures under low oxygen, mixing it with plastic and other additives and turning it into pellets, the material can be formed into various shapes.

The chaff composite meets the quality specifications for parts like headlamp housings and other interior and under hood components. The resulting components will be about 20% lighter and require up to 25% less energy during the moulding process. Heat properties of the chaff component are significantly better than the currently used material, according to Ford. This is the first time the automaker has used coffee bean skins to convert into vehicle parts. Clever.

The days of Lexus 'self charging' hybrids are coming to a close. In our latest look at future models, we note Toyota's premium brand will have another very good year in 2019. Sales have risen strongly in China, and in Europe too, while the brand is gaining ground in Japan. The US remains easily the number one market but whereas hybrids do well in most other countries, that's no longer the case there. Toyota is therefore planning a multi-powertrain strategy for Lexus, offering different choices for different regions.

The demise of GM Europe models in favour of PSA-based product at Opel/Vauxhall continues. This week, we confirmed Mokka X production ceased at the end of June, with dealerships across Europe now running out of stock. No reason for the model's demise was given. The successor to this B-SUV will not appear until 2020, Opel said, noting the previously announced electric version "will be available from the start of production". In February, PSA told the media that a 'B-SUV' for Opel/Vauxhall would be manufactured at its Poissy plant in France. This is believed to be the next Mokka X. The current vehicle is built at Opel's Figuerelas plant near Zaragoza in the north east of Spain.

The Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model X have been tested by Euro NCAP and, though both received five-star ratings, the Tesla showed stronger safety performance in key assessment categories. With its 98% score in Adult Occupant Protection (AOP) and 94% in Safety Assist – the category which assesses safety technology – the Model X is one of the safest cars of the year. The Taycan achieved 85% in AOP and 83% in Safety Assist. Matthew Avery, director of research, Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP board member said: "The devil's in the detail when you compare the Euro NCAP assessments. "Both are safe cars, but the Model X is the stand out." It's 94% Safety Assist score matches the result achieved by the Tesla Model 3 earlier in 2019. This remains the best result in the category by some margin, although the 83% achieved by the Taycan is now the second highest score this year. "Tesla has long touted its cars as some of the safest on the market and given the performance of the Model 3 and Model X in Euro NCAP testing, they might just be right," added Avery. "However, the brand's tendency to overstate the autonomous capability of its driver support systems remains a concern. These systems are leaders in crash avoidance but drivers should not be encouraged to over rely on them and must stay attentive at all times."

Is the Ford Ranger Raptor worth fifty grand (in GBP)? Think again. And it isn't only the Mustang Bullitt that Ford of Britain is doing good business with. The high priced Raptor version of the Ranger is selling well in a sub-segment where even Mercedes-Benz hasn't been able to gain traction.

I have been waiting to get my mitts on Mazda's compression ignition petrol engine and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In the hundred-plus years of the automobile, certain technology has bubbled to the top and largely stayed there. Such as pistons bobbing up and down in cylinders. But that hasn't stopped the tinkerers. Mazda under the Skyactiv banner, has concentrated on refining its petrol and diesel combustion engines and sticking to conventional automatics, now up to (only) six speeds, rather than diving into, as it has proven, trouble prone DCTs and CVTs. In the process, it has produced one of the most refined diesels out there and it's a pity such great engines, and those of rivals, have been demonised by the anti-diesel political brigade. The company tends to telegraph its moves some time before market launch and it stated its intention back around 2016 to launch a HCCI (Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition) engine in a future 3 model line. This is the world's first production petrol unit to exploit the benefits of compression ignition but the plugs are still there and in use. Just not as much. The Japanese automaker's Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) allows the engine to switch seamlessly between conventional combustion and compression ignition by using a spark to trigger two types of combustion in different ways.

I have heard tales from the Antipodes about certain Ford models self-combusting. This week came news Ford Motor Company of South Africa (FMCSA) had been fined R35m (GBP 1.8m) for incidents in which the Kuga 1.6 model caught fire. "After an intensive investigation, the National Consumer Commission, (the NCC) found that FMCSA had in fact engaged in prohibited conduct by distributing FMCSA Kuga vehicles that failed or could have failed as a result of a cooling system failure. This means that the failure of the cooling system rendered the vehicles not suitable for the purpose for which they were generally intended for and this resulted in the vehicles being unsafe," NCC's acting commissioner Thezi Mabuza said. Addressing a media briefing, the acting commissioner said in the last quarter of 2016, the NCC became aware of media reports regarding incidents of the FMCSA Kuga vehicles that were combusting either while parked or driven.

Nissan's new CEO started the post-Ghosn era properly this week. Makoto Uchida took over from Hiroto Saikawa who was forced to resign earlier this year after admitting to being overpaid by the company. The main task set by Uchida is to restore the profitability of the Japanese carmaker by moving away from the high volume discounting model of the previous management and focusing on launching new high value vehicles. This, after the company's operating profits plunged by 85% in the first half of the 2020 fiscal year (April-September 2019), while global revenues declined by almost 10%. According to local reports citing company insiders, Nissan plans to discontinue production of low cost models - including the Datsun brand - in emerging markets such as India, Indonesia and Russia due to fierce price competition.

So much for that brand revival.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com