Most cars contain 30 to 40 pounds of foam rubber. And while I like to have a nice amount of cooshiness in my car seats, that foam is heavy and made mostly of petroleum. The question to ask, of course, is whether there are alternatives, and the answer, finally, is yes.

Auto-foam makers have actually had a really tough time recently. With huge pressures to keep costs down, and fluctuating oil prices making that difficult, several foam companies have gone bankrupt. But Lear Corp. has begun producing a light-weight foam made of soybean oil that is sheltered from fluctuations in the oil market, and is just as cooshy as any petroleum based foam.The foam has already made it into the Chevy Impala and the Ford 500, and it is likely that a wider market shift will begin. Soyfoam is currently a bit more expensive than traditional foam rubber, but that will likely change dramatically as oil prices increase and the use of soyfoam increases.

We may not even notice the change, but this light-weight natural foam will probably permeate the automobile industry in the next five years, reducing our dependence on oil, while making cars cheaper and more fuel efficient.



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