Grow Your Own – The Solar Powered Lotus Made From Hemp

British car-maker Lotus has unveiled an environmentally-friendly concept car, which is partly made of hemp, at the British International Motor Show. The Lotus Eco-Elise (pictured above) sports body panels manufactured entirely from hemp (they’re the brown bits on the roof and bonnet).

Compared to metal, hemp is a very lightweight material, which helps to improve vehicle performance and promote greater fuel-efficiency. Hemp is also a renewable, lightweight material that absorbs CO2 through photosynthesis. In addition, the particular type of hemp used by Lotus is ethically produced in close proximity to the manufacturing plant, keeping a lid on the emissions made through transportation.

The Eco-Elise also sports integrated roof-mounted solar panels capable of powering all of the car’s electrical subsystems and, when in use, taking some of the strain off the alternator, leading to a drop in emissions.

Otherwise, the car is a standard Lotus Elise, with all the style and performance credentials we’ve come to expect from the sports car specialists. Sadly, this means that overall CO2 emissions are still quite high, particularly compared with, say, the Toyota Prius, or even the Tesla Roadster. However, if Lotus can figure out a way of combining the advantages of plant-based materials with a more eco-friendly electric, hydrogen or plug-in hybrid based power train, they could be onto a very good thing. Could this car show us a glimpse of a future where cars are not only emissions free, but also 100% biodegradable? – far out!!

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Image Credit – Rory Reid, CNET-UK

[Update: References to any connection between marijuana and hemp have been removed from this post.]


Andrew Williams

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.