Nov. 16, 2013 -- Making a car more environmentally friendly doesn't just mean hybrid engines or better gas mileage.
A new partnership between Ford and Coca-Cola applies it to a car's interior too.
The Ford Fusion Energi, a hybrid vehicle currently in development by the car company, uses the same material to line the car's insides as Coke uses to make its plastic bottles.
Both plastic bottles and car interiors can be made from PET, short for polyethylene terephthalate. Back in 2009, Coca-Cola started to make bottles using PlantBottle Technology, a method that made PET but used sustainable plants in place of petroleum. Todd Nissen, a spokesman for Ford, said that PlantBottle technology caught the company's eye.
"We actually announced an initiative that wasn't only with Coke but with Heinz, Nike and Procter & Gamble as well," he told ABC News. "Out of those talks came the idea that we could use Coke's technology and turn PET into a fabric."
Anil Netravali, a professor in the Fiber Science Program at Cornell University, said that PET is made by having two chemicals react together: terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol. "Terephthalic acid isn't produced by plants," he said, "but ethylene glycol is. That is the sustainable part to making PET."
The plant-based PET can be found in the seat cushions and in the door panel inserts. Nissen adds that it could also be used to make some of the hard plastic parts that drivers wouldn't necessarily see, but that the lining would be most obvious to drivers.
Ford's new car is set to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show at the end of the month. "When you put something out there, it's for the purpose of getting people's opinions," he said. While it's not set in stone that the new material will make it to market, Nissen is optimistic. "If we weren't serious about considering it, we wouldn't do it."