In its effort to be both more efficient and quieter than previous Jeeps, the 2014 Cherokee has a secret ingredient: soy.
According to a press release from Jeep, machines at the Cherokee’s assembly plant in Toledo, OH, inject a foam insulating material developed in conjunction with Dow Automotive Systems and given the brand name BETAFOAM Renue. The foam is used to deaden noise by being injected into “strategic points” on the Cherokee’s body. Those strategic points were mentioned later in the release:
The new foam bolsters 10 locations of the Cherokee’s body structure, including the A- and B-pillars and rear wheelwells. Because of its lower viscosity, it also is easier to work with than conventional acoustic material – a decided advantage on the assembly line.
While such products normally contain petroleum, BETAFOAM contains a soy-based product instead, the release said. Chrysler Director of Sustainability and Business Continuity Bill Hall said, “At Chrysler Group, we are working on a number of initiatives that further our sustainability efforts while also addressing key product goals, such as on-road refinement combined with off-road ruggedness for the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
“This new foam not only helps deliver noise reduction and improved fuel efficiency, but its renewable content minimizes the impact on the environment,” Hall added.
With a density lower than more common acoustic insulation material, the release said the soy-based foam has shaved 1.5 lbs from each Cherokee. That’s not much by itself, but as automakers are finding, every little bit of weight reduction counts. Taken in sum, a number of small weight savings like this over the entire chassis build-up could result in better EPA fuel economy estimates.
Beyond its weight saving and sound deadening properties, the release said the foam is “easier to work with” than other foam materials and has twice the shelf life of the foam previously used on the production line. Chrysler said the foam was first used early this year at its Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, where the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger sedans are built.