When it comes time to design a new vehicle, automakers take inspiration from many places. Most of the time, they look to their competitors, their past models, the new plans being drawn up by their research and development teams, and what their customers are asking for. For the new Ford EcoSport, however, Ford decided to take inspiration from a completely unexpected source.
When designing the EcoSport’s groundbreaking cargo shelf, Ford’s design team based their creation on beehives. What led them to make this decision, and what are the benefits of the unique design they’ve created? Read on for the Bloomington Ford team’s take on this interesting development in auto design.
Taking Inspiration from Bees
Why use beehives as the inspiration for a cargo shelf? The answer lies in a beehive’s unique construction and the surprising amount of resilience that a beehive’s seemingly fragile architecture is capable of.
If you’ve ever seen the inside of a beehive up close, you know that the cells have a unique hexagonal shape that allows for beehives to be incredibly strong and support incredibly large structures while still being very light.
For the EcoSport’s cargo shelf, Ford took inspiration from this ingenious natural design. Specifically, the floorboard for the cargo shelf is constructed from six pounds of honeycomb-shaped recycled paper. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like the smartest decision—how can a pile of fragile paper support the kind of weight that car owners expect to put in their trunks?
Yet, thanks to the resilience of the honeycomb design, this simple paper construction is able to support nearly 700 pounds of cargo. When you take into account that the shelving itself weighs just six pounds, this is an incredible amount of strength for such a lightweight material.
The Honeycomb Legacy
Ford is hardly the first company to use honeycomb as an inspiration for lightweight-yet-resilient designs. For many years, companies ranging from sporting goods makers to aerospace companies have made use of the hexagonal honeycomb design, using it to decrease the weight of their creations without increasing the weight; in some cases, the unique properties of the design allow weight to be decreased even as the strength of the architecture is increased.
This honeycomb technology was first used by the household door manufacturing industry starting almost 50 years ago. Since then, it has also been adopted by furniture designers, packaging companies, and many more industries. Despite how widely used it is, however, Ford EcoSport’s use of the design is still noteworthy and groundbreaking.
Also worth noting is that, true to the EcoSport’s name, the cargo shelf is made from eco-friendly materials. The paper is 100% recycled, and it’s held together with water-based glue. In addition to making the EcoSport more durable, the vehicle’s unique shelving also gives environmentally conscious drivers another reason to feel good about picking it over its competitors.
Want to learn more about the Ford EcoSport? Contact us today at 812-331-2200.