WINNIPEG, MB., August 1, 2013 – Yesterday marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Ford, whose innovative ideas revolutionized transportation and brought mobility to the masses. Henry Ford’s enduring impact is being recognized through events and declarations across Canada and around the world.
In fact nearly 70 years ago, Henry Ford was one of the first in his time to use an agricultural product in his vehicle by building a plastic car from soybeans. Today Ford Motor Company continues his vision by using a variety of natural products in the creation of its vehicles including yams, wheat, corn, wood chips and soybeans.
Henry Ford first began experimenting with soybeans to make plastic automobile parts in the 1940s. The experiments resulted in the creation of a soybean “plastic-bodied car.” Ford eventually unveiled the “Soybean Car” on August 13, 1941 at Dearborn Days, an annual community festival.
The car was a combination of steel and plastic. Fourteen plastic panels attached to a tubular steel frame, resulting in a vehicle that weighed approximately 2000 pounds. This new plastic vehicle was 1000 pounds lighter than the typical steel vehicles made at that time.
Henry Ford reportedly built the “Soybean Car” because he wanted to create a project which combined industry with agriculture. He also believed that plastic panels made the car safer than traditional steel panels. Additionally, there was a shortage of metal at the time the car was built.
Ford hoped his new plastic material might replace the traditional metals used in cars. A second soybean vehicle was in the process of being built when World War II broke out. The war led to the suspension of all auto production and, as a result, the plastic car experiment.
The Ford Motor company’s commitment to using sustainable products has only strengthened with today’s vehicles such as the Ford Fusion. The company uses soy-based polyurethane foam for seat cushions, seatbacks and headliners. Wheat straw and other plant fiber-reinforced plastics are used for vehicle storage bins and interior door panels. Engineering wood technology (recycled and renewable) is used for interior trim. Yarns are being made into seat fabrics, cotton from blue jeans are made into interior padding, nylon carpeting is being made into resin for cylinder head covers and sugars made from corn, beet and cane are being examined for use in biodegradable plastic parts.
For additional information, go to http://media.ford.com/mini_sites/10031/HenryFord150. Please see attached for two pictures of Henry Ford and the Soybean vehicle. Photo Credit: Ford of Canada.