Dearborn, Michigan – The Ford Motor Company has won four awards at the 2008 Innovation Awards competition sponsored by the Society of Plastic Engineers (SPE) Automotive Design, including in the Environmental category for its soy-based seat foam. The automaker shared the honour with supplier Lear Corporation.

Ford also was named to the Vehicle Engineering Team Award for innovative use of plastics in the Flex; the Body Exteriors category for its integrated rocker moulding and running boards on the Escape; the Safety category with the foam head impact protection in the headliner of the Focus; and the Body Interiors category for its integrated floor shifter and console in the Flex.

Ford was the first automaker to demonstrate that soy-based foams could be formulated to pass stringment requirements for automotive applications, and in 2007, it introduced soy foam seats on the 2008 Mustang. Other vehicles to use the foam include the Ford Expedition, F-150, Escape and Focus, the Mercury Mariner, Lincoln Navigator and Mazda Tribute. By the end of the 2009 model year, more than one million Ford vehicles will contain soy foam.

“This is a fantastic example of a domestic automaker and its supplier looking beyond current sustainability solutions,” said Maria Ciliberti, SPE awards program chair. “I would like to see Ford and Lear’s soy foam innovation implemented across the auto industry.”

Ford said that with soy foam in one million vehicles, it expects to decrease its use of petroleum oil by one million pounds, and reduce its carbon bioxide emissions by five million pounds annually. The company said that the foam also delivers superior product performance and supports American farmers. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, soy-based products have only one-quarter of the level of total environmental impact of petroleum-based products. Most automakers currently use an average of 30 lbs (13.6 kg) of 100 per cent petroleum-based polyol foam per vehicle in its seats, armrests, instrument panels and headliners.

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