Ford turns to nature’s inspiration

The humble beehive has inspired Ford engineers to develop the ‘Honeycomb Shelf’ – a lightweight, secret boot shelf that can support 100 times its own weight, a strength-to-weight-ratio stronger than steel.

Developed for the all-new Ford EcoSport SUV and designed to conceal valuables, the adjustable shelf can support loads of more than 300kg – yet weighs less than 3 kg.

‘Nature is like one big innovation laboratory, and from bees to termites to beavers, animals are some of the world’s best engineers,’ said Bettina Veith, Ford EcoSport assistant chief engineer. ‘The honeycomb’s ability to deliver strength without adding weight has already been put to good use in extreme applications like space rockets, jet planes and supercars, making it the natural choice to provide a super-strong platform for the EcoSport’s boot space.’

To create the ‘Honeycomb Shelf’, engineers sandwiched a layer of honeycomb-like cells consisting of recycled paper and a water-based glue between two layers of light and durable fibreglass. The lightweight solution also benefits fuel efficiency.

Ford’s SUV sales in Europe surpassed 200,000 for the first time last year. Up to the end of November 2017, the company sold 24% more SUVs, including 12% more compact EcoSport models, 25% more mid-size Kuga models, and 94% more large Edge models.