Vancouver: More than a dozen Canadian companies have joined hands to produce a 'green' car made of hemp.
To be run on electricity, the prototype design of the car - to be called Kestrel - will be unveiled at the Electric Mobility Show here next month.
A consortium of 15 Canadian companies will design the green under Project Eve which aims to build environmental friendly cars on the long-term basis. The four-seater will have bio-composite body made of hemp - which is the name for cannabis (bhang) plant. It will run on batteries with 4.5 to 17.3 kilowatt hours of energy. The car will reach a top speed of 90 kilometres per hour.
It will have a range of 40 to 160 kilometres before needing to be recharged, depending on the type of battery, it was reported here Monday.
The first 20 cars will be delivered next year.
Hemp-fibre is said to be as strong as fibre-glass - used currently to make car bodies - but much lighter and less expensive. Henry Ford had built his first car made of hemp fibre and resin more than half a century ago.
"It's not an original idea (to use hemp-fibre),'' Nathan Armstrong, president of Calgary-based Motive Industries which will test the prototype, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Monday. He said the the idea wasn't developed much further as car manufacturers favoured steel. In subsequent decades, fibre-glass and carbon fibre-based composites gained popularity as they are strong.
But producing these composite is very energy intensive whereas hemp-fibre grows in a field using the energy of the sun. Further, it is twice as strong as any other plant fibre, he said.
"As a structural material, hemp is about the best. Plus, it's illegal to grow it in the US, so it actually gives Canada a bit of a market advantage,'' Armstrong told the network.
The Canadian auto industry is the eighth largest in the world, with major US and Japanese automakers having assembly plants in Ontario province.
First Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 13:49