All automotive environmental initiatives aren’t focused on things happening under the hood or coming out of the tailpipe. Vehicle painting is a big environmental issue. Ford Motor Co. is undertaking a real-world test of what it’s describing as “environmentally responsible new technology” along with U-Haul. Specifically, it has painted approximately 200 E-Series trucks in its Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, OH, with a new high-solids, solvent-borne paint in a three-wet application process.
No, that’s not a typo: solvent-borne, not water-borne. Apparently, the formulation actually reduces the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and CO2 emissions compared to conventional water-borne (and other solvent-borne) paints.
The “three-wet” means that three coats can be applied on top of one another without required drying in between. This means there is no need for a prime-coat application. What’s more, the air conditioning and low-temperature oven necessary for water-borne paint aren’t needed, either.
So what they’re seeing is the ability to (1) reduce the amount of time it takes to paint a vehicle by 20% and (2) to reduce the size of the paint shop by some 15%. This translates into a savings of about $7.00 per vehicle, all while reducing CO2 emissions (a.k.a., greenhouse gases) by 15% and VOC emissions by 10%.
Mary Ellen Rosenberger, paint manager at Ohio Assembly, commented, “It’s environmentally sound. It’s cost-efficient. And it produces beautifully painted vehicles with long-term durability.” That durability is predicated on the high-solids, solvent-borne paint, which is said to be more chip- and scratch-resistant than water-borne paint. Presumably that will be proven—or disproved—by those U-Haul trucks that will provide Ford with durability data during the next year.