Automotive interiors typically contain about 30 to 40 pounds of foam and most of that is made from petro-chemicals. That makes it a prime candidate for alternative materials for both weight and cost reduction. The cost reduction is particularly important for interior suppliers, like Southfield, Michigan-based Lear, that have been hit really hard by the drive for price reductions from the car-makers in recent years. Many suppliers have gone into bankruptcy recently.

Lear has now developed a new kind of foam made from soybean oil that they're marketing as SoyFoam. It's lighter than traditional foams and less susceptible to fluctuations in oil prices. So far both the 2006 Chevrolet Impala and Ford Five Hundred are using limited amounts of SoyFoam. When combined with some of the other alternative interior materials like Honda's bio-fabric and the new recycled interior fabric that Ford is introducing on the 2008 Escape, crude oil consumption is being reduced in the production as well as the operation of new cars.

[Source: Detroit News]


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