Time magazine reports Ford's Piquette Project, known only by very top-level Ford executives, harkens back to Henry Ford's innovative experiments with soy-based polymers and the idea of agriculture and industry being closely linked.
"The mission was, 'Could Ford design the Model T of the next century?'" says William McDonough, an expert on green architecture who is running the sustainability part of the project.
William Clay Ford Jr., the 48-year-old CEO of Ford Motor Co. and great-grandson of the auto company's founder, tells Time Ford's biggest challenge is "to restore a sense of confidence, externally and internally, in the company."
This week he is unveiling "Way Forward," a last-ditch effort to save the company by taking some big chances.
"The old way of doing things doesn't work," Ford says. "Is (this) risky? Of course it's risky. But I tell you what: Going the way we were going is the highest risk of all."
The report comes amid speculation the automaker is also poised to announce substantial cuts in its labor force.