In 1941, Henry Ford partnered with famous scientist and botanist George Washington Carver to “grow an automobile from the soil,” with a body made and powered by cannabis hemp. The result was a car that was stronger, 25 percent lighter, cheaper to manufacture and considerably greener than any modern electric car available today — all thanks to cannabis hemp.
Today Bruce Dietzen, President of Renew Sports Cars, is picking up where Ford left off. This time around, the result is a bit sexier and has the potential to set a new trend in green automobile manufacturing by becoming the only sports car available with a body made from carbon negative hemp.
The 2015 Renew Hemp Sports Car’s unique design was inspired by numerous European race cars from the ’50s and ’60s, giving it a classic Roadster feel, but with all the modern amenities. Dietzen, a long-time lover of sports cars, was looking to do a bit more than build a nice-looking sports car. His agenda has a much more environmentally-friendly motive to it.
The body of the Renew Sports Car is made from carbon negative hemp fibers, rather than highly carbon positive materials, such as carbon fiber, steel, aluminum, fiberglass or petroleum-based plastics with which automobiles are typically produced today. Impure materials like these, burden down new cars with a massive carbon debt and according to the Ricardo Study of 2011, constitute 23-46 percent of a typical car’s lifetime carbon footprint.
Carbon negative hemp slashes right through this rather dirty carbon problem. As hemp grows, it absorbs more carbon dioxide than nearly any other plant on Earth. So, when hemp’s incredibly strong fibers are used to make a durable good like a car, all that CO2 is removed or “sequestered” from the atmosphere.
In keeping with Renew’s green mindset, their hemp body is mounted on a carbon debt free, re-certified 1990-97 Miata chassis, typically retaining its re-certified 27 MPG drive train. This combination gives the Renew a lifetime carbon footprint which is roughly 10 percent less than today’s average electric vehicle.
Starting at $37,000, plus the cost of a donor Miata, this car may be the the closest thing to a “carbon neutral” vehicle as is currently possible. For a little more cash, their Turbo version delivers 265 HP, in a scant 2,400 pound package for those that enjoy really cutting loose. And for the DIYers, a complete kit runs $19,995 plus the cost of a donor Miata.
Renew begins a nationwide tour this month, bringing the Hemp Sports Car to car shows, 420 festivals, hemp festivals and green festivals across the country. At these shows, Dietzen encourages attendees to sit behind the wheel and take a selfie, so they can share the news with their friends on the internet and help spread the word. Renew’s ultimate mission is to make carbon neutral cars by 2025.
“The key to saving our environment lies in making everything we need from what grows above the soil, not what’s buried beneath. The Hemp Sports Car is, perhaps, the most iconic example of this maxim that exists today,” he says. “By taking the Renew Sports Car on tour across the country, we will help raise awareness to the fact that we should be making everything we possibly can from carbon negative cannabis hemp.”
Dietzen is confident that in the next decade, 75 percent of car components – even the batteries – could be manufactured using carbon negative hemp, reducing footprints even more than electric vehicles have done so far.
Renew Sports Cars is currently seeking funds for their nationwide tour through theirIndieGoGo page, where the first online video of the car under power can be viewed. Be sure to visit their Facebook page and website to learn more about this revolutionary new vehicle.
The following first appeared in Cannabis Now.