Canadian engineering firm Motive has announced that its new Kestrel will feature lightweight composite body panels made primarily of hemp.

So, forget bio-fuels for now – this post is all about Motive’s innovative use of bio-composites to deliver strong, lightweight, recyclable cars and put the Canadian auto industry at the leading edge of sustainable automotive technology.

Check out Motive’s official press release, information video, and my two cents, after the jump.

Motive’s Kestrel will make its official debut at September’s VÉ Conference and Trade Show in Vancouver, where Motive hopes the 4-passenger minicar will make a big impact.  One aspect of the car, however, has already gotten the attention of the mainstream automotive press:  the car’s hemp-based composite body.  Granted, the bio-composite material is derived from an industrial hemp fiber weave grown in Vegreville, Alberta (legally) under license from Health Canada and contains less than 0.3% THC, but that won’t stop everyone writing about this car (myself included) from giggling a bit at the thought of a few thousand acres of hemp grown under the care of humorless government agents… possibly guarded by bears.

In all seriousness, however, the bio-composite seems to be a suitable alternative to the (more) conventional E-glass, Kevlar, and carbon fiber composites being used by other EV makers.  The hemp composite offers the same levels of impact resistance as fiberglass, but is lighter, cheaper, and requires fewer petrochemicals to manufacture – important qualities for EVs.

Calgary’s CTV News covered the hemp-based composite (and gave us a sneak peak at the Kestrel) earlier this week …


… the enthusiastic confidence of everyone interviewed might mean that Motive’s new Kestrel is set to reach production rather sooner than later.

I can’t wait to read the headlines!


Motive has announced the development of Canada’s first bio-composite bodied electric car.

Aug 18, 2010 – The car, called the Kestrel, will make its full marketing debut during the September EV 2010 VÉ Conference and Trade Show in Vancouver.  The Kestrel is an electric 4 passenger compact vehicle, designed and engineered by Motive.  The body of the car is made from impact resistant bio composite material.  Kestrel designer Darren McKeage says – “electric cars need to be efficient, therefore the Kestrel design had to be simple (minimized part count) and light weight, while still being unique and eye catching.”

The bio composite material is made from Hemp mats produced by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) in Edmonton Alberta from Hemp stock grown in Vegreville, Alberta.  Nathan Armstrong, President of Motive says “we saw a unique opportunity to make significant advancements in the automotive sector and support the Canadian Auto Sector by providing sustainable products and opportunities to create new green manufacturing jobs.”

Prototyping and testing will begin on the vehicle later this month.  The goal is to achieve the same mechanical properties as glass composites while achieving a reduction in weight.  According to Dr. John Wolodko at AITF, bio- composites are becoming more popular due to their low cost and light weight.  “Natural materials such as hemp can offer a green and sustainable alternative to conventional fibers used in composites.”  Composite materials are currently used in formula one vehicles and many road going vehicles and have been found to have strength and safety benefits above that of steel.

Motive Industries has designed and engineered the Kestrel for participation in Project Eve, an entirely Canadian Initiative with the goal of furthering the production of electric vehicles and electric vehicle components in Canada.  A full announcement about Project Eve will be made during the Vancouver EV 2010 VÉ Conference and Trade Show in September.


Motive is a full vehicle development firm focused on advanced materials, technology and innovation to create real-world transportation solutions.  Our unique blend of design capabilities and industry experience has allowed us to create processes which accelerate project cycles, reduce cost and decrease time to market.   Our focus on advanced materials and manufacturing technologies keeps us at the cutting edge of vehicle design and engineering.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Motive Industries, Inc.