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Ford Incorporates Soy-Foam Seats Into Explorer Encouraging Bio-Foam Usage
The release of the 2011 Ford Explorer comes with some amazing news of progress for the automobile industry’s use of sustainable materials. Harking back to the company’s roots, Ford is set to implement soy-based polyurethane foam in the manufacture of their seats as one of many new eco-friendly features of the new Explorer. The real shocker is that Ford has been on the bio-foam train for years, and to date, more than 2 million vehicles on the road already possess bio-foam content.
In Henry Ford’s early years, he felt that working closely with the American agricultural industry was incredibly important and could lead to a lucrative and mutually beneficial relationship. While the company eventually moved away from this original vision in favor of cheaper, petroleum-based plastic alternatives, they have begun to see the wisdom in Mr. Ford’s original agricultural focus.
Thankfully, Ford has stepped up it’s green initiatives as of late with some significant changes to their manufacturing practices. By the end of the year, nearly 100 percent of Ford’s North American vehicle lineup will feature the soy-foam seat cushions. This seemingly small change translates to a megalithic environmental impact, with a savings of 3 million pounds of petroleum oil per year, and an 11-million pound reduction in CO2 emissions. Because the foam is plant-based, there’s a 67% reduction in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that makes for safer interiors as well as a significant decrease in VOC off-gassing. Another exciting aspect of the new 2011 Explorer is that its fuel economy is set to improve by “at least 25%” compared to the current model which means better mileage for a car that already features a slew of new and innovative sustainable elements.
In addition to these developments, the future collaboration between Ford and American soybean growers looks bright. Tod Allen, an Arkansas soybean farmer stated that Ford’s efforts were a “huge success” and believes that “there is plenty of capacity in the soybean industry for both food and industrial use.” Ford is also researching the possibility of using crops like palm, grapeseed and sunflower oil for similar foam technologies that might be more cost effective. The horizon of Ford’s increased sustainability has enormous implications for the automobile industry at large and is an excellent example of an American corporation moving in a more environmentally responsible direction.
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