Industrial hemp has a number of impressive uses, from clothing fibers to a concrete alternative. Now Project Eve, a collaboration of Canadian car manufacturers, is developing a prototype for an electric car with a hemp body called the Kestrel. With the exception of the Kestrel’s structural frame, all of the car’s traditionally metal components will be replaced with a hemp-fiber composite that is as durable as fiberglass but lighter and less expensive.
The Kestrel's body will be made from hemp-fiber composite, a lightweight but durable material. Photo Courtesy Motive Industries.
In the 1940s, car magnate Henry Ford developed an automobile made from hemp fiber and resin, but manufacturers instead chose to pursue materials such as steel. Now car manufacturers are taking another look at hemp, which has a number of beneficial characteristics. Hemp fibers are strong but lightweight, so they produce durable cars without metal’s extra weight, improving the car’s efficiency. Hemp cars also require less energy to produce.
The Kestrel holds four people, has a 25- to 100-mile driving range (depending on the car’s battery), and clocks out at 55 miles per hour. Motive Industries prototyped and tested the car last month in preparation for the Kestrel’s unveiling at the September EV 2010 Conference and Trade Show in Vancouver, Canada.
Hemp for the cars was grown in Canada near the town of Vegreville. Industrial hemp cultivation is illegal in the United States.