One of the reasons cars cost what they do is because they're made with a lot of stamped steel and aluminum, and those materials, not to mention the tooling they require, ain't cheap. So Canadian designer Darren McKeage and his company, Motive Industries Inc., are attempting to skirt those manufacturing costs by building a car from biocomposite materials derived from hemb fiber. Called the Kestrel, the car was unveiled to the public last month.
The car's design features bio-composite materials and innovative tooling and part-molding techniques that Motive says will permit profitable manufacture of the Kestrel at smaller initial volumes than traditional stamped-steel or aluminum vehicles. "The cost to tool a traditional vehicle is in the hundreds of millions [of dollars]," explains company president Nathan Armstrong. "The techniques we are using will allow us to scale up the tooling and manufacturing process as demand increases, with ramp-up costs affordable for a new company...."
...Composites also will increase impact absorption and rust resistance. "Composite materials have been used in advanced applications for many years because of [their] relative light weight and ability to absorb impact loads," says Armstrong.
Designed to run on a lithium-ion battery, the lightweight car (under 2,000 lbs) is slated to see production in 2012.