What’s old is new again. It seems like every clever idea or radical invention has already been thought of, existing in government patent archives or a 15th century sketch from Leonardo da Vinci. Retro design is a prime automotive example of this, but it’s not the only one. Ethanol is a promising transportation fuel of the future, just as it was a century ago.
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You can smoke it, you can wear it, you can eat it… and now, you can drive in it. Is there anything you can’t do with hemp?
As it turns out, hemp has a long standing relationship with automakers. Did you know that in 1941, Henry Ford made a car body out of organic fibers that included hemp (we sure didn’t)? Now hemp is making a comeback as the world’s first production-ready biocomposite electric car is set to take off.
The Kestrel is a three-door hatchback, and according to Nathan Armstrong, the president of Motive Industries, Kestrel’s manufacturer, is made of a “hemp composite as strong as the fiberglass in boats, yet incredibly lightweight.”
The lightweight Kestrel tips the scales at 2,500 pounds (including the battery) and its boasts a fuel-efficiency increase of 25 to 30 percent. It’s really a cool process to make the resilient, lightweight compound – hemp stalks are combed and rolled into a mat that is infused with a polymer resin, making it as flexible as the carbon fiber used in racecars.
The price is affordable too. Since it’s cheap and fast to grow, the Kestrel comes in at around $25,000. The Kestrel is set to hit the road in 2012.
So what happens when the Kestrel finally breaks down and is no longer drivable? Would it be environmentally friendly to invite a few friends over, order a pizza and watch it go up in smoke?