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Forward with Ford 2011: Green cars inside and out

During last week's Forward with Ford conference outside Detroit, Ford touted its plans to turn cars green and renewable from their seats to their bumpers.

Actor and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr. talks about green car design at the 2011 Forward with Ford tech conference. Ford Motor Company

DEARBORN, Mich.--The 2011 Forward with Ford conference here last week gave outsiders a look at Ford Motor Company's push to makes its cars greener.

Actor and activist Ed Begley, Jr. joined Ford Motors' Sherif Marakby to discuss the company's ongoing efforts to electrify cars. Ford develops three levels of greener vehicles--hybrids (like the Ford Fusion hybrid), plug-in hybrids (like the Ford CMAX Energi), and all-electric vehicles (like the Ford Focus Electric). Ford is hip to the 2011 Maritz Research study reporting that 42 percent of all consumers consider fuel economy "extremely important" when buying a new vehicle. So, Ford delivers 12 vehicles that get 40 mpg or higher in EPA highway testing.

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In addition to hyping its fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel cars, Ford offered a look at the materials making up its cars. Designers showed samples of post-consumer plastics made into underbody shields, carpets, replacement bumpers, and roof linings. They demonstrated how cotton from blue jeans was made into interior padding and nylon carpeting became resin for cylinder head covers. Even corn and soy beans are making their way into seat cushions and parts.

For a closer look at Ford's evolving auto line and some of the organic and recycled materials going into them, visit the on-scene gallery.