While hemp can be used for food, textiles, paper, fabric, and fuel oil, the misunderstood crop breeds fear amongst politicians in the United States and has led to the crop being illegal to grow without a DEA permit, which is pretty hard to get. But growing hemp is legal in Canada. Canadian company Motive Industries has taken advantage of this, and have been working on an electric car made of hemp plastic. Touted as Canada’s first bio composite electric car, the Motive Kestrel’s top speed is 135 km/h, with a range of 160 km. The ultralight car is a 3 door 4 passenger electric vehicle, and packs 16 kWh of lithium battery juice to keep the car going 160 kilometers per charge.
Now Motive has announced that bio composite materials derived from hemp and flax fibre will also be used in the car’s interior. They will be used to create the headliner, door panels, door trim, floor tub and center tunnel, instrument panel and the center console panel. The prototype should be coming out sometime this year, with a production goal of 2012.
The advantages of using bio composites over traditional materials include reducing dependence on fossil fuels, reducing waste, cost, and being able to produce the materials right in Canada. The materials are made from hemp mats produced by Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF), from hemp stock grown in Vegreville, Alberta. AITF is technically owned by the Government of Alberta. Considering the US government has a major fear of hemp, this could give Canada a leg up in the automotive industry.