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Ford Fusion Hybrid gets soy-based foam seats

2010 Fusion Hybrid is Ford's latest vehicle to be outfitted with soy-based foam seat cushions, covered in recycled fabric. A car's environmental impact can be measured by more than mileage.

The interior of the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
The interior of the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Ford Motor Company

Ford does not and will not be using soy-foam in the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Seats are comprised of 85 percent post consumer recycled material and covered in eco-responsible fabric.

The 2010 Fusion Hybrid is the latest Ford family vehicle that to be outfitted with soy-based foam seat backs and cushions, and covered in 100 percent recycled fabric, which goes to show that mileage isn't the only way to measure the environmental impact of a car.

By the end of 2009 model year, more than 1 million Ford vehicles will have been manufactured with these petroleum-alternative seats. Since its debut in 2008, Ford has used the foam in the Mustang, Expedition, F-150, Escape, Focus, Mazda Tribute, and Lincoln Navigator.

A soy-based foam seat.
A soy-based foam seat. Ford Motor

Replacing the seat cushions may not sound like a huge technological leap, but the switch from polyurethane foam derived from petroleum to soybean oil-based foam in these vehicles has offset more than 5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, said to Cynthia Flanigan, a plastics expert in Ford's Research and Advanced Engineering department. It's another step toward reducing the United States' dependence on foreign oil.

Given the years of research and testing that goes into replacing traditional materials in integral parts of a vehicle, this accomplishment is no small feat, Flanigan says. Ford is also exploring ways to replace other vehicle components with bioplastics and bio-based resins.

The Fusion Hybrid's seats are comprised of 85 percent post-industrial recycled material and standard equipped with recycled cloth. But if your environmental conscience is satisfied by the Fusion Hybrid's capability to achieve up to 700 miles per tank during in-city driving, you're free to forgo the eco-cloth and upgrade to leather-trimmed heated seats.