Whether you’re unplugging electronics when not in use, using canvas bags instead of plastic or collecting rain water, Ford wants to know what changes consumers are making to better the environment. It’s all part of Ford’s new “Take Charge” contest on its Electrified Vehicle Facebook page, which runs through mid-April.

There are four categories in which users can submit their best eco-friendly action ideas. The winner from each of the four areas will be awarded a Ford electric vehicle experience — an expense-paid trip to Dearborn to check out Ford’s EV offerings.

“The contest allows Ford to use social media to connect with our fans and exchange ideas about what they are doing to lower their carbon footprint,” said David Finnegan, Focus Electric marketing manager. “Our electrified vehicles are just one part of Ford’s overall sustainability efforts and we want to ensure our fans have a voice in sharing what they are doing as well.”

Users will be asked to offer ideas in four areas:

* Repurposer: Ideas focused around recycling
* Power Miser: Ideas focused on energy conservation
* Gas Sipper: Ideas on fuel-efficient thinking
* Unconventionalist: Ideas covering everything else eco-friendly

After submitting ideas, users can reach out to their social network on Facebook or Twitter to share their efforts and accumulate votes. A leader board will show the fans who has the most votes, as well as how many of their friends are participating.

Fans can accumulate badges for attaining 10, 50 and 100 votes for their submissions. As a way of showing off their accomplishments, they can share these badges with their social network.

“Even though we’re asking Facebook users to share what actions they are taking to help the environment, Ford will take part in the conversation by giving examples of what we’re doing too,” said Brian McClary, Ford social and emerging media specialist. “These reminders will help spark people’s imaginations on what they can achieve.”

For example, the Ford Fusion Hybrid gets 41 mpg, allowing drivers to travel more than 700 miles on a single tank of gas in city traffic; this would be used in the Gas Sipper category. The use of recycled denim in vehicles fits into the Repurposer area.

The Ford Electrified Vehicle page for Facebook was developed to help consumers understand the differences between electrified vehicle technologies so they can make informed decisions about whether a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle fits their driving habits. The page also creates a place for consumers to start or participate in conversations around Ford’s electrified vehicle offerings and gives the automaker a place to listen to and respond to those interested in electrified vehicles.

Ford’s strategy includes the launch of five new electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013, which started with the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010. In addition, Focus Electric, an all-electric vehicle, will launch in late 2011. In 2012 Ford will launch two new next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrids including C-MAX Hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

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