By the end of 2009, Ford will reduce its yearly petroleum use by one million pounds and cut its annual carbon dioxide emissions by five million pounds, all thanks to the humble soybean. This feat will be accomplished simply by replacing petroleum-based foam used inside seats with soy-based foam in some one million Ford vehicles.
The Society of Plastic Engineers recently gave Ford and its seat supplier Lear Corporation the 2008 Automotive Innovation Environmental award for developing and employing what Lear calls "SoyFoam" in vehicle seats. The soybeans for the foam are grown in North America, while the previously-used petroleum is largely imported. The soybean foam is also more easily recycled than petroleum-based foam.
Ford introduced soybean foam-based seats in 2007 for the 2008 Mustang. Other Ford products now using the soy-based foams include the Ford Expedition, F-150, Escape and Focus. Soy-based foam will eventually find its way to armrests, instrument panels and headliners.