Dearborn, Michigan – A new foam made with plant-based castor oil is now being used in the Ford Focus.
“Working with BASF, we now can offer our North American customers the new Ford Focus with the industry’s first seamless soft-touch instrument panel that’s stronger, better-looking and better on the environment,” said Bari Brown, Ford advanced product development engineer. “Castor oil from plants helps deliver sustainable interior foam that reduces petroleum use while improving vehicle craftsmanship. It’s beneficial both for the customer and Mother Nature.”
Castor oil is derived from the flowering spurge plant, which is widely grown in tropical regions. The oil does not compete with food sources. The foam is made with 10 per cent renewable content and passes all Ford performance requirements for interior components, and has 36 per cent better tensile strength than material previously used.
The foam also takes 43 per cent less time to cure than the previous foam. and scrap is reduced due to improved flow and processing characteristics. BASF estimates that the foam saves more than 5,000 barrels of oil for every 300,000 Focus models produced.
Ford plans to incorporate caster oil-based foam across more products globally over time. The company also uses seat foam made from soy, storage bin plastic that incorporates wheat straw, recycled yarn for seat covers, and natural-fibre plastic for interior components.