Solar Powered, Hemp Bodied Electric Car – Now That’s Green

Automakers have finally seemed to come to terms with the fact that green is the new black. One has gone so far as using a different sort of green in the body of an electric car – hemp – and it’s stirring up quite a buzz.
Recently unveiled at the Vancouver EV 2010 VÉ Conference and Trade Show, The Kestrel is a 4 passenger electric car designed primarily for city use. Built by Canada’s Motive Industries Inc,. the 3 door vehicle will have a top speed of 135 km/h and a range of 160 kilometres. Weighing in at a mere 850 kilograms, the Kestrel’s energy storage system is in the form of a 16 kWh lithium ion battery pack.
A feature setting the Kestrel apart from other electric cars is its body, which will be made from composite materials containing hemp. Aside from the environmental benefits, Motive says using advanced composites compared to metal are increased impact absorption, rust resistance and reduced weight. While a steel stamped body panel absorbs impact by crumpling, the hemp based material used in the Kestrel will absorb the energy and return to its original shape.
While there are no solar panels on the Kestrel’s roof, owners with household grid connected solar power systems will be able to plug in to recharge for an even greener ride. As for what to do with the battery pack of an electric car once it has reached the end of its serviceable life; another company, General Motors, is already looking into repurposing electric car batteries for renewable energy storage.
The Kestrel has been designed and will be manufactured entirely in Canada by a consortium of partners under the banner of Project Eve. Production manufacturing target date of the Kestrel is set to be some time in 2012.