DuPont Sorona plant in Kinston to outfit Toyota’s new SAI car
January 12, 2010
Photo Kinston Free Press
A new agreement between DuPont Sorona and Toyota will ensure that renewable sourced fibers produced in Kinston will be used to outfit automobiles overseas.
DuPont officials announced Tuesday that fibers made from DuPont Sorona will be used for the ceiling surface skin, sun visor and pillar garnish of Toyota’s new model SAI.
The fibers will also be used in the materials to make floor mats sold under the Toyota brand. The SAI was launched at Japan dealerships last month. The new car will be on sale through dealerships in Japan, but not in the United States, according to a press release.
DuPont Sorona site manager Harold Thomas said the new agreement would not likely bring more jobs to the local economy. The plant in Kinston employs about 120 workers that work in the bio-based material field.
But, the new agreement does shine a positive light on what is being produced at the Kinston plant, Thomas said.
“We are already producing all that we can,” Thomas said. “This agreement may allow us to expand in the future.”
DuPont officials did not release the value of its new agreement with Toyota nor the immediate financial impact to Lenoir County.
The agreement didn’t happen overnight. Thomas said Toyota officials toured the DuPont Sorona plant during 2007 and were pleased with the quality of the plant’s bio-based propanediol that is used to produce Sorona, Thomas said.
“Sorona is made from corn,” he said. “It is refined in Tennessee and shipped to Kinston.”
Toyota is the first vehicle manufacturer worldwide to use Sorona products in its vehicles. Thomas said Honda company officials have expressed interest in the Sorona product as well and have toured the Kinston plant.
Thomas said Toyota officials decided to use Sorona in its vehicles because the bio-material matches the company’s green image.
“It’s easy to measure the quality of the product,” Thomas said.
Local officials praised the deal between DuPont and Toyota announced Tuesday.
“I am elated that we have the capability to produce a quality product in Lenoir County that will be going worldwide,” Lenoir County Commissioner George Graham said. “It’s great news for the workers and managers at the Kinston site.”
Lenoir County economic development director Mark Pope said the deal solidifies Kinston’s and Lenoir County’s role in the local economy.
“Sorona has many uses in the marketplace,” Pope said.
Fibers made from Sorona polymer meet strict performance guidelines for automotive use while having a rich and soft texture and good hand-feel, according to a press release.
“We are committed to bringing renewable materials to companies like Toyota, which has a strong sustainability intention,” DuPont BioMaterials Group Vice President John Ranieri said.
Chris Lavender can be reached at 252-559-1078 or email@example.com.