The new 2011 Ford Explorer will use soy foam in seat cushions and seatbacks. The soybean oil-based flexible foam material has a lower environmental impact to produce. It is up to 24% renewable as opposed to traditional non-renewable petroleum-based foam, and it offers up to 67% reduction in volatile organic compounds emissions, according to Lear Corporation, the maker.
Ford Motor Company is expanding its use of bio-based soy foam through nearly its entire North American vehicle lineup as part of an ongoing effort to use more renewable and recyclable materials
Already there are more than 2 million Ford Motor vehicles on the road with bio foam content. Ford says bio foam has helped the company reduce its petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds annually and carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million pounds.
Ford Motor Company was the first automotive manufacturer to express an interest in soy foam for automotive applications and the first to demonstrate that soy-based polyols (alcohols containing multiple hydroxyl groups) could be used at high levels (~40%) to make foams capable of meeting or exceeding automotive requirements.
The 2008 Ford Mustang seats and headliners for the 2010 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner first used the material.