It has been nearly 70 years since Henry Ford took a whack at soybean-based plastics for his cars, and the company now run by his great-grandson still is looking at perfecting the concept.
The Model U concept, rolled out at the Detroit auto show in January, is filled with environmentally friendly ideas, from the hydrogen-fueled engine to a tailgate made of soy resin.
"It's a bundle of new, exciting ideas," says Gerhard Schmidt, vice president of research for Ford Motor Co.
The Model U is intended to test the waters for a variety of new and potential breakthroughs in the industry.
Some of the products, such as a corn filler used to replace carbon black in tires, are in the initial stages of commercial development. Others are further out, but all are worth exploring, Schmidt says.