Man makes $8 million selling recycled parts used in Ford trucks

Spurned by the financial sector for his advocacy of environmental causes, Deeb Ferdowsi started a business to make recycled old car parts.

Way back in 2000, Ferdowsi and two partners founded Futuris, an eco-friendly, sustainable parts-recycling company that produces everything from the bodywork on Ford Model Ts to interior panels.

This year, Futuris’ annual profits are up 100% over the past 12 months, the company announced this week.

The decision didn’t surprise Ferdowsi.

“Our revenue growth has been steady,” said Ferdowsi, Futuris’ co-founder and chief executive officer. “We’ve been able to set records on volume and net income.”

For the first six months of the year, Futuris shipped up to three million recycled parts, Ferdowsi said.

“We’ve never had a year of this type of growth,” he said.

Ferdowsi’s assertion rings true: Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday that its North American sales rose 5% for the month of June, marking the best sales increase of any major automaker.

Overall, General Motors Co. reported an increase of 9.3% in sales for the month. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported an 11.7% increase in sales. Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. reported an 8.8% and 7.4% increase in sales, respectively.

Ferdowsi said he doesn’t know what’s behind this growth in vehicle sales.

“I feel good about it and I hope that we are a factor in that,” he said.

During Ford’s second-quarter earnings call last month, CEO Jim Hackett said that the automaker would build Focus electric hatchbacks at its Michigan Assembly Plant as part of a $700 million “evolution in the way we produce vehicles.”

Those vehicles will replace Focus hybrids, which cost about $10,000 more than the comparably priced gas-powered versions, the company said.

I’d wager they aren’t electric cars, however.

Ford committed to a 75% electrification of its lineup by 2025 and has said it will unveil its first hybrids and fully electric vehicles by 2021.

The Ford Fusion hybrid and fully electric e-Blade will make their debut this fall. In the meantime, Ford has announced it will build a hybrid minivan for production in the 2018 model year.

If Ford were seriously boosting its electrification efforts, it would be more drastic, said Detroit auto analyst Michelle Krebs.

“All you need to do is count the number of hybrids Ford is killing off,” Krebs said. “There aren’t any new [electric and hybrid] models. These are puny.”

Ford’s recent performance should also have no impact on what the company has planned for electrification, said Sherif Marakby, a Ford spokesperson.

Marakby said that manufacturing electric vehicles is complex.

“The challenges that we are facing as a company are much more serious and, ultimately, more compelling than what we are going through right now,” he said.

One reason for this delay is that Ford’s all-electric vehicles will be aimed at people who drive shorter distances, Marakby said. “We have to demonstrate that we can do it at a cost that would make sense for our customers,” he said.

If it’s difficult to sell electric vehicles because of their limited range, Ford would be wise to meet these demands with better battery technology, said Steve Pierce, an expert in how hybrid and electric vehicles are built.

“When I started out, I worked on the last generation of hybrids, which had a problem that was unsolved and that is keeping hybrids from succeeding,” said Pierce, who left Ford in 2015 and is now an analyst with the Institute for the Future.

“I worked on hybrids that couldn’t go as far as a gallon of gas, which is what a lot of people who own those vehicles aspire to,” he said.

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