The Furrow

A John Deere Publication
Deere Gator utility vehicle made of recycled materials in field

"Getting the opportunity to look at things that are out in the future and focus on what we need to develop to add value to our customers while reducing our environmental footprint was a great experience," Greenlee said.

Sustainability   January 01, 2023

Concept Vehicle Made of Recycled Parts


John Deere and Ford Motor Company explore sustainable solutions.

When you picture a collaboration between Ford and John Deere, what comes to mind? Horsepower? Diesel?

A hood made of plastic bottles pulled from the Mississippi River and a storage bin made of coconut filler probably weren't your first thoughts.

These are just two of the many surprising materials used to produce a Sustainable Concept Gator, a one-of-a-kind machine prototype built in collaboration with Ford Motor Company's Sustainable Materials team to examine ways of taking waste streams—like plastic bottles—and turning them into viable machine components.

"When the idea of the Sustainable Concept Gator project came about, the goal was to explore a variety of materials to be used for possible adoption across product lines to support our goals around increasing use of sustainable materials," Andy Greenlee, senior staff engineer for sustainable solutions at John Deere, said.

Why build a vehicle that will never go to market? "Concept projects like this are extremely valuable to our efforts in sustainable innovation," said Jill Sanchez, director of sustainability at John Deere.

"The Sustainable Concept Gator has provided us key learnings. It shows how innovative thinking and innovative partnerships provide invaluable insight into how we can apply sustainable material use in the future," Sanchez said.

Though many components used in this Gator are not a short-term production solution, the materials pave the way for sustainable solutions, including one that is in production now—a defrost louver made out of recycled tires is in Gators produced today.

When reflecting on the project, which started back in 2018, John Deere team members appreciated the opportunity to learn from the experts at Ford, but also found it inspiring to work on a future-focused project that has the potential to make a big difference. ‡

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