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2014 Jeep Cherokee uses soy based materials in a move towards green manufacturing

The new Cherokee will use an acoustic foam made from plants rather than petroleum. It has some surprising other benefits as well.

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Chrysler has made it clear that the all-new 2104 Jeep Cherokee will not be like prior models. Upon introduction its new nose created quite a stir among Jeep enthusiasts who were used to, and expecting, a square jaw. Now those enthusiasts will have one more thing to consider. The new Jeep Cherokee uses a soy based product as its sound insulation.

The new product, developed in conjunction with Dow Automotive Systems may have been named by a native Bostonian since it is aptly called BETAFOAM. Many drivers never consider what is between the outer metal skin, and inner plastic and fabric they see from inside the cabin. Backyard mechanics and bodymen know what is in between–foam. Lots and lots of foam. In most cases the foam is there to simply dampen sound, and that is what Jeep has said this product’s primary role is. Some foams also help to keep thin-wall metal panels in shape as well. Others become part of the vehicle’s sacrificial bumper crush structures.

Jeep pointed to the A and B pillars and rear wheel wells as places where the new soy-based foam is used in the Jeep Cherokee. Foams are liquids when applied. One advantage of this new foam is that it has a lower viscosity (it is thinner) and workers find it easier to apply. Another is that the foam is less dense, and therefore lighter. Jeep estimates that the foam saves 1.5 pounds per vehicle. Since the foam has a base made from food plants, rather than from petroleum, Chrysler considers the product to be part of its move towards green manufacturing. Commenting on the new foam Bill Hall-Director of Sustainability and Business Continuity said “At Chrysler Group, we are working on a number of initiatives that further our sustainability efforts while also addressing key product goals, such as on-road refinement combined with off-road ruggedness for the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. This new foam not only helps deliver noise reduction and improved fuel efficiency, but its renewable content minimizes the impact on the environment.”

In its press release about the foam Chrysler and Dow did not mention if the foam is edible by rodents such as mice. Mice and other animals already have a tendency to nest in the acoustic materials inside cars and trucks and will chew wires with soy based insulation.

The foam used at the Chrysler Toledo Sterling Heights assembly plants is also found in the Avenger and model 200.

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