Ford wil introdue new soy- based foam seats on its Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner in 2009. These cushions are wrapped in 100 per cent recycled fabric, the first such seats in the automotive industry.
"As Ford continues to migrate soy-based foam seat inserts across many vehicle platforms, we're improving our environmental footprint by conserving limited resources and reducing carbon dioxide emissions," said Debbie Mielewski, technical leader, Ford Plastics Research.
The Ford Mustang, F-150, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator also feature similar soy-based foam seat cushions.
Ford showcased its work with soy foams in 2003 on the Model U concept, which featured soy-based seat cushions as well as a soy-based resin composite tailgate.
Ford's Plastics Research team has now formulated the chemistry which replaces 40 percent of the standard petroleum-based polyol used in seating materials with a soy-derived material. This will make a significant impact on the environment while reducing dependency on imported petroleum.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology the impact of soy based products on the environment is reduced to one quarters of the petroleum based products. Most automakers today use, on an average 30 pounds of petroleum-based foam in seat backs, seat cushions, armrests, instrument panels and headliners.
The 2009 Escape and Mariner also will continue to use the same recycled fabric seating surfaces as the models released in 2008. The Escape became the first vehicle to use fabric produced from 100 percent post-industrial waste which could be anything from plastic used for pop bottles or un-dyed poylester fabric.
This post-industrial waste is spun into yarn, dyed and woven into seat fabric. Ford could conserve an estimated 600,000 gallons of water, 1.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents and more than 7 million kilowatt hours of electricity according to an estimate made by Interface Fabrics.
The 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner will offer a new, 171-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with intake variable cam timing (i-VCT) for enhanced fuel economy and performance.
The new engine delivers a best-in-class 20mpg (city) and 28mpg (highway) in fuel economy when equipped with the new six-speed transmission, as compared to the previous model's smaller-displacement 2.3-liter engine and four-speed automatic.
The Escape Hybrid and Mercury Hybrid remain the most fuel-efficient SUV's on the planet, with a city, highway rating of 34 and 31, thanks to its new 2.5-liter four-cylinder that uses the fuel-efficient Atkinson Cycle for combustion.