Kestrel: an electric car made from hemp

A Canadian company will debut their lightweight cannabis-composite car in September. Their hope? That the demand for electric vehicles will grow like a weed.
Written by Melissa Mahony, Contributor on

Canadian company Motive Industries Inc. plans to debut its hemp-composite electric car in about two weeks at Vancouver's 2010 EV trade show.

No, the vehicle is not made of rope, nor will driving it into a fiery wreck get you high (so don't try). But the featherweight four-seater might at least get your mileage high.

Named for a small bird of prey, the Kestrel's shell is a cannabis-composite that is lighter than glass and more dent-resistant than steel, according to its developers.

May Jeong the AP reports:

Armstrong [president of Motive Industries] and his partners had the option of using industrial plant fibers such as kenaf and flax, as well as hemp. They chose hemp because the crop yields more per acre and requires less water and pesticide.

Armstrong said there were economic reasons that the hemp cars might succeed this time. When the recession hit, fiberglass manufacturers shut down furnaces, forcing many manufacturers to look toward other composites.

Grown in Alberta, the weed Cannabis sativa comprising the Kestrel is not the same stuff sold on the street or in the clinic, Cannabis indica. So, no worries about police profiling your EV. And since it tops out at 56 miles per hour, there's little likelihood you'll be pulled over anyway, school zones notwithstanding.

About five years will pass, Motive Industries expects, before the Kestrel is ready to fly off any lots. The prototype vehicle may be the first hemp EV to grow out of Canada, but some speedy Formula Onecars apparently already feature the bio-composite. After all, the idea for such materials for automobiles is not new.

Shown here are some Ford workers beating their hemp car with a sledgehammer back in 1941.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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