Hemp In The Automotive Industry

Hemp In The Automotive Industry

Hemp is so versatile, it can be made into cars!  Because of the high cellulose content found in hemp, it makes a very strong and lightweight composite material that is being embraced as a green alternative to other materials in the automotive industry.

Hemp Plastics Stronger Than Steal

Many of today’s plastics come from fossil fuels, but some can and are being made from plants like hemp. While plant-based plastics may seem like a new idea; they’ve actually been around for many years.

In 1941 the Ford Motor Company developed a material that was composed of 70% cellulose fiber and 30% resin binder, 10% of the fiber content was hemp.

Ford boasted of having exterior panels that were stronger than steel and can be famously seen in the video hitting the car with a hammer.

Sadly, Ford did not expand on the development of the Hemp car, maybe it was because Hemp became an illegal crop to grow at the end of the second world war.

Lightweight Material

Today, with hemp being legal to cultivate again, it’s making a strong comeback in the automotive world. In 2013, BMW decided to use hemp as a material in their first electric car the i3. 

Saving weight is vital when building an electric car, the less the car weighs, the further it can travel on a single charge of the battery. That’s why hemp was used in the interior panels of the BMW i3, saving around 350 kilograms in total.

The company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 40% per vehicle before 2030, using hemp and other plant-based materials will help them achieve this.

The Future Of Hemp Plastics

BMW is not the only company using Hemp in its cars, Porsche and Mercedes have been doing this quietly for years.

Lotus made the Eco Elise, this was in fact the first road car to integrate Hemp into its production.

Peugeot is also using Hemp Plastics to save around 25% of weight from conventional plastics on its interiors.

Volvo is using Hemp Fibers to help reduce the use of glass fibers and weight in its vehicles.

The only limit in the Automotive industry for Hemp at the moment for large-scale production is the time and cost it takes to develop and make this material.

As product development progresses, Hemp plastics will be found in more and more of our everyday items.

BMW i3 Hemp Plastic Door Panel

A close-up of Hemp fibers from the BMW i3 on display in the Museum