Ford Motor Company and the Lear Corporation have teamed up to offer more green to consumers, as in being more eco friendliness. Soy - as in soy milk, soy beans, etc. The same stuff tofu dogs are made of is going to be the base product in Ford’s new seat foam – starting with the 2008 Mustang. Sounds good in theory, but what about the smell?
Debbie Mielewski, Ford’s technical leader of plastics research, likened the smell of the new soy foam to burnt popcorn. When hot, the foam also emitted oil fog that would have left a thin, clear residue on the windows – that is until now. Much preparation and thought has gone into the design of the new foam – which is about 40 percent soy and 60 percent oil-based and might even be more comfortable (and scent free).
Ultimately, Ford is trying to make it’s own Way Foward, being good to the environment without increasing costs. The annual worldwide market for automotive foam is 9 billion pounds, so a switch to a renewable material could have a significant environmental impact, Mielewski said. The new manufacturing process emits less CO2 into the atmosphere, requires lower energy use to produce the foam, and reduced dependence on foreign oil – all of which are good things in our book – just keep the smell out!
You know, this isn’t the first time an automaker used soy products in their car parts… in fact Ford used about 60 pounds of soy beans on each Model-T for paint and molded parts. Oh, and to answer some of the emails we’re likely to get – NO! You can’t eat the seats… there’s still some petroleum in them. Eh.