How Data Helps Ford Go Green

Gary S. Vasilash

While you might associate a “green” auto company with one that focuses on such things as reducing waste in factories and minimizing the emissions of its plants and products, a company that offers hybrids and electrics, and the like, and while Ford does all that and more, here’s something that you probably didn’t consider.


2013-06-PH-Ford Logo 

Said John Viera, Ford global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters:

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Ford now ranks among the greenest brands in the world. The company’s investments in the field of big data analytics have continually increased in the last 15 years.”

That’s right: Big Data is helping the Blue Oval go Green.

Turns out that they’ve been running what’s sometime referred to as “Big Iron” in Dearborn harder than a 662-hp Shelby GT500 Mustang. They’ve used it to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide that would be emitted by a fleet of vehicles in 50 years. They used it to determine the proper mix of the types of engines and powertrains to develop and produce. They’ve used it to optimize millions of possible vehicle combinations to develop an ecofriendly and economical global technology roadmap.

They’re going to be using data analysis for a variety of other green things, as well, like green routing (the most efficient way to go from A to B while factoring in local air quality in specific areas, like schools and hospitals), determining the demand and availability of strategic materials (e.g., lithium, platinum) necessary for advanced powertrains. And the like.

Who knew that Big Data—increasingly used for marketing applications—could be so environmentally helpful?