Deere, Ford Joined Forces to Build Gator with Recycled Materials

Me Photo Headshot
John Deere and Ford's sustainable Gator with hood made from recycled bottles
John Deere and Ford collaborated to build a concept Gator with recycled materials.
John Deere

John Deere and Ford collaborated on building a concept Gator UTV out of materials like plastic bottles, soybeans and fishing nets.

The “sustainable” Deere Gator’s parts consist of a variety of materials, such as:

  • Seat filler: Soy-based foam
  • Tires: Soy-based oil
  • Dash: Rice hull filler
  • Seats: Recycled PET plastic
  • Hood: Recycled plastic bottles
  • Grab handles – Recycled nylon fishing nets
  • Storage bin: Ground coconut
  • Roof and doors: Bio-SMC (sheet molding compound) made with soybeans
  • Exterior door panels: Sugarcane polyethylene with corncob filler
  • Interior panels: wheat straw, maple wood and hemp fiber filled
  • Bumpers: Recycled automotive bumpers
  • Exterior panels carbo box: Flax fiber filled

The Gator team included six Deere employees working with Ford Motor Company’s sustainable materials team to recycle waste for components. Deere’s 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,” said Andy Greenlee, Deere senior staff engineer for sustainable solutions.

The project began in 2018 and has given Deere more insight into recycled materials it can use in its production process, the company says.  

“One component from this project that’s in Gators produced today is a defrost louver made out of recycled tires,” says Keith Shanter, Deere senior materials engineer.

The project was a challenge because the Deere team had to use tooling that was already available. “We weren’t going to invest in new tooling for a product that won’t go to market, but we did everything we could to find sustainable materials that were suitable replacements,” Shanter said.

Though the concept recyled Gator won’t go on the market, Deere says its development will help the company’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact.

“It shows how innovative thinking and innovative partnerships provide invaluable insight into how we can apply sustainable-material use in the future,” says Jill Sanchez, director of sustainability.