Ford Adds Soy Foam Seat Cushions To Explorer; Nearly 100% of North American Lineup to Feature Soy Foam By End of 2010
The 2011 Ford Explorer will feature soy foam in seat cushions and seatbacks. The bio-based polyurethane foam will be one of the new features in the new Ford Explorer—which will also deliver fuel economy at least 25% better than the current model—which goes in to production later this year.
The addition of soy foam in the Explorer expands Ford Motor Company’s commitment to using more sustainable materials in all its vehicles. By year’s end, nearly 100% of Ford’s North American vehicle lineup will feature the more eco-friendly material. (Earlier post.)
Ford has more models with seats that use bio foam than any other automaker, it says; the 2011 Explorer will become the 23rd model to feature soy foam. To date, Ford Taurus, Mustang, F-150, Focus, Flex, Crown Victoria, Escape, Edge, Expedition and Econoline, as well as Mercury Mariner and Grand Marquis, Lincoln MKS, MKX, MKT and Navigator use the sustainable material. In addition to Explorer, the Fusion, Fiesta, F-250/F-350 Super Duty, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ will get soy foam by the end of 2010.
Soy foam has helped Ford reduce its annual petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds, and is up to 24% more renewable than petroleum-based foam. The use of soy foam also has helped Ford reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million pounds as the biomaterial provides a 67% reduction in volatile organic compounds emissions.
Soy foam is just the tip of the iceberg in the development of vehicle materials from natural resources. We have to entertain the thought of bio-replacement in baby steps, looking at every aspect of a car that could be green. One day I hope to see the automotive world go totally compostable, removing the use of petroleum-based parts 100 percent—Debbie Mielewski, Ford polymer technical leader
Ford was the first automaker to demonstrate soy-based foams could be formulated to pass stringent requirements for automotive applications, pioneering its use in seats for the 2008 Ford Mustang and in headliners for the 2010 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner.
Ford also has capitalized on its greener material technologies by licensing its soy-based foam to companies such as Deere & Company for agricultural applications. (Earlier post.) Ford continues to research the use of other renewable sources for foam, including palm, grape seed and sunflower oil in markets around the world where those commodities are locally available and cost effective.