I Like to Partner with Jose Cuervo, and So Does Ford

Oh, Jose, you've been my wingman more times than I can remember.

But aside from being in the business of getting people *loco en la cabeza*, it looks like Jose Cuervo might be helping out in the car world, too. Recently, Ford announced that they are teaming up with the Mexican tequila giant in an effort to try and develop more sustainable materials for automobiles.

This isn't a very traditional automotive partnership, to say the least. Of course, one could joke and say that the styling of the Edsel may have been influenced by some Jose Cuervo (*ba dum tss*). But this is serious business, and as long as environmental regulations keep getting tougher and tougher, carmakers are going to be pushed to develop more and more sustainable materials for their cars. This means that we are going to see some, shall we say, interesting partnerships between automakers and other manufacturers.


Believe it or not, it makes a lot of sense for Ford to partner with Jose Cuervo. If you know anything about how tequila is made, you'll notice that there is a lot of plant waste generated in the process. The agave plant is actually pretty useful for things other than making tequila. Agave fibres are very durable, and the waste agave can be used to make paper, compost, and other materials. But can it used to make car parts?

That's exactly what Ford wants to find out. And it's not the first time they've tried something like this.


In fact, Ford has a long history of making car parts out of plant-based materials. The "Soybean Car" of 1941 is perhaps the most famous example.  Although the car doesn't really look like a block of tofu, Ford supposedly used soybean derivatives, along with hemp, flax and other plants, to create the plastic body of the car. The Soybean Car never made it into production, but soybeans would come back to the Ford assembly lines in the 21st century. In fact, if you drive a Ford built within the past 5 years, chances are that the seat foam in your car was made out of soy oil.

So, in reality, the Ford-Jose Cuervo alliance is a lot less radical than at face value. And there is huge potential for converting plant waste into a resource. A 2009 study done by the United Nations estimated that 140 billion metric tonnes of biomass are generated every year from agriculture. The possibilities are tantalizing, even though agave-based plastics are still very much in the experimental phase. 

"Our job is to find the right place for a green composite like this to help our impact on the planet. It is work that I'm really proud of, and it could have broad impact across numerous industries."  Debbie Mielewski, Senior Technical Leader, Sustainability Research Department, Ford.

But let's not kid ourselves, Ford has done extremely well to think outside of the box and partner with the people responsible for the worst hangovers I have ever experienced in my life, bar none.