A graphic illustrating the use of Kenaf in the doors of the Ford Escape.

Whatever the color of your Ford Escape it's still Green

To paraphrase the namesake and founder of the Ford Motor Company, you can get a Ford Escape in any color you want as long as it’s green and to illustrate the point, an edible green plant, sometimes used in cosmetics, makes up 50 percent of the door bolsters.

The tropical plant used is called kenaf, a relative of bamboo, cotton and okra. It takes the place of oil-based products in the midsize SUV and should save 300,000 pounds of oil-based resin in North America alone this year.

The use of the plant lightens the materical inside the doors by 25 percent, doing its part to improve overall fuel efficiency. Kenaf fibers can be used to make paper and cardboard in place of wood and its upper leaves and shoots are edible.

The plant is mixed with polypropylene in equal measures during the bolster production for the Escape. International Automotive Components (IAC) manufactures the door bolsters in Greencastle, Ind.

“Kenaf and the other renewable materials in the Escape have made the vehicle more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient,” said Laura Sinclair, materials engineer for Escape.

Twenty-five plastic beverage bottles go into make the carpets for each and every Escape. At the rate we consume these drinks, it good to know some of them get recycled.

Certain gaskets in the vehicle are made from recycled tires – another waste product we have more than enough of to last a long time.

Within the seats, Ford uses a soybean-based foam for the cushions. Interestingly, we were told at the long lead introduction in Dearborn that the real problem with using soybeans this way was the foam had a really funky smell you wouldn’t want in your car. So Ford researchers had to find the source of the offending aroma and isolate it from the final foam to solve the problem.


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