The new material uses kenaf, a tropical plant that resembles bamboo and is related to cotton and okra. In addition to displacing oil-based resins, the kenaf material also reduces the weight of the door bolsters by 25 per cent, improving fuel economy.
Kenaf oil is used in cosmetics and kenaf fibre can be used to make paper, while the upper leaves and shoots of the plant are edible. The plant-based material is combined with polypropylene in a 50/50 mixture. The doors are manufactured in Indiana by International Automotive Components.
The all-new Escape, which goes on sale this spring, also includes soy foam in the seats and head restraints, plastic bottles and other materials in the carpeting, climate control gaskets made from recycled tires, and nearly five kilograms of scrap cotton from denim jeans production.