Did you know in 1941 Henry Ford made a car constructed from hemp and designed to run on hemp bio-fuel?
Following a decade of researching and building, Henry Ford unveiled his car 'grown from the soil' in 1941, constructed of resin-stiffened hemp fibre, with an engine built to run on hemp fuel.
Ford envisioned the cannabis car in response to the problems of WWII, with the war leading to a global shortage of steel. During this time period, steel resources were diverted from the automobile industry to build war machinery. Ford sought to circumvent this material problem by developing a car entirely out of agricultural products. As a farmer himself, he saw great potential experimenting with different plants. Ford saw agriculture as far more than food and believed America could rely on products like hemp to fill a vast amount of needs.
The appeal of the hemp car was not just because of its novelty. Ford believed a plastic car would be much safer than a metal car due to the significantly reduced weight. The final product had hemp plastic panels with impact strength 10 times stronger than steel and was 25% lighter than other cars of the time. Whilst the environmental impact was not measured back then, the car was vastly superior to conventional materials.
The idea quickly became obsolete as it became illegal to produce the cannabis plant in the USA. Similarly, once the war ended so did the steel shortage, and the fight for the powerful steel and oil industries to remain relevant ensued.
Now, almost 80 years later, we are looking again at the value of industrial hemp for the auto industry. Hemp is now being used to make materials that can be moulded and manufactured to replace fibreglass products, such as car body panels, and hemp oil is being converted into bioplastics which can be used to create parts.
Various car makers are now beginning to use hemp in their cars, including Audi, BMW, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Volkswagen, and Volvo. The next few years will no doubt prove very interesting for the hemp car industry.
The hemp plant can be used to make much more than you might think. Hemp offers us thousands of ecofriendly solutions to modern day necessities.