Drivers of the all-new 2013 Ford Escape (below) may be surprised to find out there is a plant inside the door. As part of its effort to make vehicles more sustainable, Ford is making the material inside the door (the bolster) in part from kenaf.
What’s that, you say? Glad you asked. Kenaf is a tropical plant that looks similar to bamboo and is related to cotton. The plant replaces oil-based materials inside the doors of the all-new Ford Escape. The use of kenaf is anticipated to offset 300,000 pounds of oil-based resin per year in North America; use of this eco-friendly material reduces the weight of the door bolsters by 25 percent. Weight savings translate into fuel savings (and speed) for drivers.
“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.
Kenaf oil is used in cosmetics and kenaf fiber is used as an alternative to wood in the production of paper. The upper leaves and shoots of the plant are edible.
Just don’t try to eat your car doors.