July 10, 2008 Lotus has taken a different approach to 'green' car building with the announcement of its Eco Elise - featuring hemp-based bodywork and other renewable materials. Taking the position that too many 'green' cars concentrate solely on CO2 emissions at the tailpipe, Lotus has overhauled its entire manufacturing process to reduce energy and water usage, boost recycling, use locally-sourced, renewable and carbon-neutral materials, and provide dash instrumentation to encourage greener driving habits. It's an unique 'holistic' approach to environmentally friendly car building - and the stunning Eco Elise should make at least two sales when the news reaches Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.

Lotus' new Eco Elise celebrates a new type of eco-engineering, in which the company has taken great pains to make the entire manufacturing and driving process as fuel efficient and environmentally sustainable as possible. To that end, they've built the body panels from a hemp resin, and used eco wool and sisal in the interior. Paint is water-based and all materials are sourced locally to reduce the Eco Elise's total carbon miles in production.

Drivers are asked to play their part too - while the car is light, quick and efficient, the dash features a "green shift" light instead of the usual red power shift light, showing drivers where to shift for maximal fuel efficiency and low emissions. Fuel economy and efficiency meters are on display as well.

The British manufacturer's building processes have been overhauled with large reductions in power, fuel and water usage, and nearly 60% of all waste products from the process are now recycled.

More details and photos over at Transport 2.0.

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