Published on: 20/06/2023
HEMP BODY CAR: ALL ABOUT HENRY FORD’S FASCINATING PROJECT
Today we want to tell you a fascinating story. In 1941, the US car company Ford was trying to find new materials for the production of more economical and sustainable cars.
It was in this context that Henry Ford, the founder of the company, had the idea of using hemp (growing from cannabis seeds) for the construction of car bodies. Thus, the Hemp Body Car was born.
Ford had, in fact, a great intuition. Hemp is an extremely versatile plant that grows quickly and does not require pesticides or fertilisers. The fiber is very strong and robust, which undoubtedly makes it an ideal material for car construction.
Brilliant, isn’t it? Let’s see how it went.
The Hemp Body Car prototype
Actually, the protagonist of our story was not the only one who saw the potential of hemp for the automotive industry. Other companies were also exploring this emerging sector, but we owe the realization of the first complete prototype to Ford.
It was in that year, 1941, that he presented a prototype car with a body made entirely of a plastic material obtained from hemp and soya beans.
You won’t believe it, but even the fuel that allowed it to move was made from hemp! It was hemp ethanol, refined from the seeds of the plant.4
The prototype was light, yet stable and had excellent corrosion resistance. In addition, the hemp material was easy to work with and much cheaper than the traditional materials used for building car bodies, such as steel or wood.
It was even stronger because it was more elastic than metal bodies. Ford took a sledgehammer to the rear of the car, without causing any damage to the body, just to prove the validity of his creation.
Despite the obvious advantages of the hemp material (produced from weed seeds), the Hemp Body Car was never marketed.
This was mainly due to the war that was breaking out at the time and the increased demand for steel for armament production. It must also be added that hemp itself was seen as a plant associated with marijuana and, consequently, its cultivation was banned in the United States from 1955.
Ford died in 1947, leaving unfinished this idea of his which, as we shall see, is coming back to the present day.
The use of hemp in the automotive industry today
The story of our Hemp Body Car did not remain a visionary dream without a future.
Today, the use of feminized seeds hemp in the automotive industry is slowly making a comeback. With increasing awareness of the damage caused by traditional materials used in car construction, many companies are looking for alternative, sustainable materials. Hemp is one of them, and some companies are investigating the possibility of using it for the production of automotive components such as panels, carpets and seats.
Did you know that harnessing hemp could even help reduce environmental impact?
Due to its frugality, this plant is a sustainable choice for industry. It is being tested for its suitability to produce bioplastics, which are biodegradable and recyclable, a far cry from traditional plastics.
The use of hemp in the automotive industry can also have a positive impact on local economies, and create jobs in agriculture and textiles even in less developed areas, due to its ease of cultivation. The automotive industries could count on sustainably priced and high-quality materials.
But is it really possible to follow the example of the Hemp Body Car and use hemp to build cars?
The future looks very promising. As awareness of the damage caused by traditional materials used in car construction increases and demand for sustainable materials rises, more and more companies are exploring the use of hemp for the production of automotive components.
However, we cannot hide the fact that there are some hurdles to overcome.
First of all, the fact that the cultivation of hemp and of auto flower seeds is banned in several countries, and its use is associated with something negative. Overcoming prejudices is certainly not easy. The challenge will also have to focus on lowering production costs, which at the moment would not justify a change of materials.
At the moment, therefore, we do not yet seem ready for a new Hemp Body Car, but the situation could evolve quickly. Ford would certainly be proud!
Read also: Everything you need to know about growing cannabis in a greenhouse
In this article, we talked about Henry Ford’s fascinating project, which seems to be gaining new popularity.
So, we will have to wait for further developments, but the research seems really promising. Who knows, maybe we will really be driving cars made of hemp in the near future!