If you thought it was high time someone produced an electric vehicle (EV) using that most versatile and environmentally friendly of fibers, hemp, then you can breathe a sigh of relief. Motive Industries Inc. has announced the development of Canada’s first electric vehicle whose body is made from an impact resistant bio-composite material that is made from hemp mats. If it remembers to turn up, the four-passenger car, called the Kestrel, will make its debut during the EV 2010 VÉ Conference and Trade Show in Vancouver in September.

Composite materials are currently used in Formula 1 vehicles as well as many road-going vehicles and have been found to have strength and safety benefits above that of steel. In using hemp, the goal was to produce a material with the same mechanical properties as glass composites while achieving a reduction in weight.

According to Dr. John Wolodko at Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) in Edmonton, Alberta where the hemp mats are produced, 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, “ he says.

Kestrel designer Darren McKeage says the vehicle boasts a minimized part count to improve simplicity and is lightweight to improve efficiency. Motive Industries designed and engineered the Kestrel for participation in Project Eve, a Canadian initiative aimed at furthering the production of EV’s and EV components in Canada.

“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,” said Motive President, Nathan Armstrong.

And before an uninformed subset of our readership start getting excited about the mind altering potential of setting a parked Kestrel alight, we should point out that industrial hemp produces very little THC.

Motive was to begin prototyping and testing on the vehicle this month ahead of its debut at the EV 2010 2010 VÉ Conference and Trade Show, which runs from September 13 to 16 in Vancouver.