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U-Haul partners with Ford on new paint technology

U-Haul has made a concerted effort to manufacture equipment that not only serves its customers well, but is also environmentally friendly. So it comes as no surprise that U-Haul would be involved in programs with partners who have the same philosophy.

“Right now this is the most environmentally friendly way to paint vehicles.” - Dean Cerimeli, director of Truck and Trailer Product

In May 2007, Ford Motor Company opened the doors of its "paint shop of the future," becoming the first automotive company to paint vehicles using the industry’s newest paint technology – a three-wet, high-solids-based system, which is much more environmentally friendly than the current painting method.

"We are always willing to be involved in any state-of-the art testing that supports our sustainability efforts and the environment," stated Dean Cerimeli, director of Truck and Trailer Product. “Right now this is the most environmentally friendly way to paint vehicles.”

The chassis of every truck painted with this new technology will have a decal on the chassis saying it was painted with the most eco-friendly process available. In addition to its environmental benefits, this new technology will also prove more durable by providing increased scratch-and-dent protection.

Paint shop of the future

After three years of development and more than a year of in-plant testing, the new system was introduced on a fleet of U-Haul trucks and was on U.S. highways in the summer of 2008.

"Ford and U-Haul are both dedicated to developing new environmentally safe ways of doing business, in this case eco-friendly paint shops," explained Mary Ellen Rosenberger, paint area manager of Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant. "Our first installation of a process described as Full Body 3 Wet at the Ohio Assembly Plant for the E Series Program has created a new type of partnership with our valued customer, U-Haul.

"Ford will work with U-Haul to evaluate the field performance of this new paint process,” Rosenberger continued. "The long-term durability test data provided by U-Haul vehicles will add another dimension to Ford’s knowledge of paint durability. In this very important fleet business, it is all about durability and delivering truly ‘Tough Trucks.’ We are very thankful to U-Haul and their commitment to our new environmentally friendly paint developments."

The Ford paint technology uses a high-solids-based paint formulation that produces fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than do waterborne and medium-solids-based paints currently used in the automotive industry. This formulation contains more color pigment and, therefore, requires less paint to cover a vehicle. Furthermore, the new formulation allows three layers of wet paint to be applied one on top of another and baked once, eliminating two paint ovens and resulting in a smaller, more energy-efficient paint shop.

Waterborne paint requires air conditioning to get the water out of the paint, which means using more energy and releasing more CO2 from the paint shop. Removing water from the paint is necessary to get a quality paint job. According to Ford’s validation tests, high-solids-based paint provides better long-term resistance to chips and scratches than waterborne paint.