Ford's EcoSport takes a cue from honeybees

By Author: Carolyn Briggs, Date: Feb 21, 2017

Call me a hippie all you want, but I strongly believe the solutions to a lot of problems in science and engineering can be answered by looking to nature.

And apparently today, so does Ford.

Not only is the cargo shelf in the all new EcoSport compact SUV made from recycled paper and water-based glue, but the design was inspired by honeybees.

The strength to weight ratio on the hexagonal honeycomb is pretty mind-blowing. Engineers have been using honeycomb structure for thousands of years – the Roman Pantheon uses honeycomb panels in the dome – and it’s still one of the most efficient ways we know to maximize strength. Honeycomb panels are still used in the rockets and shuttles we trust to hold together as they literally explode a person off the planet.

So we’ve got classic architecture, aerospace engineering, and now the humble cargo shelf. For the shelf, Ford takes a honeycomb panel made from 100 percent recycled paper and water-based glue and sandwiches it between two composite panels.

The whole thing only weighs 6 pounds, but don’t let that hold you back at the store. The shelf can safely store up to 700 pounds. Think of the heaviest thing you normally put in your trunk, now imagine how much of that you’ve had to haul at once to break this shelf. I know it’s just a shelf but … I think I’m impressed.

You can slide the shelf into four different positions to give yourself the compartment space you need, and even better, you could probably shift the shelf’s position with one hand.

“The hexagonal design of honeycomb is a testament to nature’s ingenuity,” says Mike Mazzella, Ford EcoSport assistant chief engineer. “Not only is it strong, it’s superlight. Customers can slide the shelf into multiple different slots like an oven rack; even store it on the back of the seats. It helps make EcoSport super-flexible in everyday use.”

I’m not sure if I’m more impressed by the shelf itself, or that Ford made me rave so much about a shelf. Either way, this thing is un-bee-lievable.

I couldn’t resist.

Carolyn Briggs

I grew up on the road. As a child, my family took regular trips from Wisconsin to both coasts. That's how I've seen most of this country — through the window of a car. Years later, I still feel that excitement when I toss my bags in the trunk and get behind the wheel. That's how seeing something new always begins. I've scaled mountains, dived with sharks, and stepped to the very edge of the Grand Canyon, all because I spent hours in a car. This site combines my passion for the road with my actual talent — communication and journalism. In college I rose to the position of managing editor for The Badger Herald, the largest independent student newspaper in the country at the time. I spent a year after graduating in social media marketing before moving off the grid to explore the wild beauty of West Virginia.

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