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BMW’s New Electric Car Sheds Weight With Hemp

By on July 31, 2013
The i3 will be available in North America by early 2014. The base model starts at  $41,350 (US).

The i3 will be available in North America by early 2014 with a starting price of $41,350 (US)

TruthOnPot.com – BMW has finally come out with an all-electric car, which made its world debut on Monday. And in true BMW fashion, they’ve outdone just about every other electric car in what matters most: Weight. The BMW i3 is a mere 2,700 pounds – 800 pounds less than the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt.

Weight is essential because the i3 depends entirely on a 22 kWh lithium-ion battery for fuel, which also contributes about 20% of the car’s total mass. The only solution was using a variety of low-weight materials to maximize fuel efficiency and driving range (130-160 km per charge) – hemp being one of them.

Hemp and kenaf materials contribute to the i3's natural looking interior.

Hemp and kenaf materials contribute to the i3′s natural looking interior.

Like many BMWs before it, the i3 features door panels made of hemp. Mixed together with plastic, hemp helps lower the weight of each panel by approximately 10%.

But that’s not all. The hemp fibers – which are left exposed – also offer a design element, reports Bloomberg. According to Benoit Jacob, the i3′s designer, the use of natural materials like hemp and kenaf (a plant in the hibiscus family) makes the i3′s interior feel like “a small loft on wheels.”

A BMW 5 series door panel made out of hemp.

A BMW 5 series door panel made out of hemp.

While any mention of hemp always seems to perk ears, the fact that hemp was used to make parts of the i3 shouldn’t come as a surprise. BMW has been testing and using natural fibers like hemp since the 1990′s, when government pressure to use recyclable materials forced most European car makers to go greener.

Starting out with trunk liners and airbag parts, BMW eventually expanded into making door panels out of hemp. By 2006, hemp panels were used in all of BMW’s 5 series models. Many luxury European car makers – including Mercedes and Audi – now make use of hemp in some form.

The i8 will be the next electric car sold by BMW. The hybrid supercar accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h

The i8 will be the next electric car sold by BMW. The hybrid supercar accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h

What’s next? The BMW i8 – an electric hybrid supercar that is set to launch early next year. And yes, it’s also made with hemp. This versatile, eco-friendly car component is definitely here to stay.

  • kathy n

    excellent!

  • morsie2

    I’d like a four door please!

  • http://www.bearmountainbooks.com Maria Schneider

    Need to test drive…need a car for a book I’m working on (for the character to own, not me). This looks like a good one! It’s got the cool factor, the name brand and speed!

    • The Amazing Randi

      you sound like a homeless invalid desperate for a car. Nobody would let you near their car.

      • Richard

        You are one sick & depraved individual. Why would you attack Maria like that? BTW, I spent 10 years bed-ridden before surgeries now allow me to walk about 100 feet before I collapse. I’ve been homeless many times. Mainly because Landlords tried taking advantage of me due to my disability. Prior to becoming disabled I made a six figure income. My ex-wife drained off all my wealth before walking out & divorcing me as I laid bed-ridden. Now I survive alone on $12,000 per year & live in HUD subsidized housing. What do you have against people who, through no fault of their own became disabled & poor?

        • Richard

          BTW, I single-handedly convinced a County Government to pass the first Hemp Resolution in Michigan, which eventually lead to the Governor signing Agricultural Hemp Law. All from a run down apartment & a wheelchair. What have you accomplished?