Why Ford and Jose Cuervo Might Mix

Automaker and Tequila Brand Look at Using Agave Waste for Car Parts

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It's not often you see booze brands and automakers strike up partnerships, for obvious reasons. But Ford and Jose Cuervo have come together in search of lighter, more energy-efficient cars and trucks.

In an arrangement made public today, the marketers say they are teaming up to explore the use of the tequila maker's agave plant byproduct to make more sustainable bioplastics for Ford vehicles.

The material is being considered for use in components such as wiring harnesses, HVAC units and storage bins, according to Ford. The automaker in a statement said the material "holds great promise due to its durability and aesthetic qualities. Success in developing a sustainable composite could reduce vehicle weight and lower energy consumption, while paring the use of petrochemicals and the impact of vehicle production on the environment."

The deal is part of Ford's "FarmToCar" initiative, which aims to replace petroleum-based plastics with plant-based materials. The automaker has struck similar arrangements with brands including Heinz and Coca Cola. Ford assembly lines already use a variety of sustainable materials, including soy foam, castor oil, wheat straw, kenaf fiber, cellulose, wood, coconut fiber and rice hulls, according to the company.

"There are about 400 pounds of plastic on a typical car," Debbie Mielewski, Ford's senior technical leader at its sustainability research department, said in a statement. "Our job is to find the right place for a green composite like this to help our impact on the planet."

Tequila-making involves harvesting agave and then roasting the heart of the plant and using its juices for distillation. Jose Cuervo uses a portion of the remaining agave fibers as compost for its farms, "while local artisans make crafts and agave paper from the remnants," according to the statement.

"Jose Cuervo is proud to be working with Ford to further develop our agave sustainability plan," Sonia Espinola, director of heritage for the Cuervo Foundation and a master tequilera, said in the statement.

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