Kestrel EV has teased us with images of its mysterious electric car made from industrial hemp, but now the cat is out of the bag. After its debut at the 2010 VE Electric Vehicles Conference and Trade Show in Vancouver, the Motive Kestrel EV is a reality.

Motive, the Canadian based transportation design and manufacturing firm (www.motiveind.com) that created the Kestrel EV, says that response has been sensational, with global inquiries coming from as far away as India.

Nathan Armstrong, President of Motive, feels that they are onto something. “We know we are presenting unique solutions that will help solve many of the challenges facing the automotive industry, not only environmental but also logistical (as in supporting Canadian industry).”

On the environmental side, using composite material (hemp) versus metal has many benefits including a lighter weight, increased impact absorption and rust resistance. “While a steel stamped vehicle will absorb impact by crumpling under pressure, a composite vehicle will absorb the energy then return to its original shape,” comments Armstrong.

“To design a vehicle with presence, I often look to how nature visually communicates a purpose in its purest form. For the Kestrel, I wanted to create an image of athleticism and robustness to stand out against a sea of large sedans and SUV’s,” adds VP of Design, Darren McKeage. The designer looked to animals for styling cues, and attributes some of the Kestrel’s design to greyhounds and sharks, because their barrel chests and narrow waists communicate strength.

He notes that he’s captured the “strength” in design through the wheel arches and upswept form in the rocker area - features that accentuate the wheels helping to create a planted stance.

The compact four passenger, three door electric car is intended for the city driver. To make it easier to shimmy around traffic, the compact front has a cab forward design.

The Kestrel will weigh in at approximately 1,870 lbs., tackle a top speed of 84 mph and achieve 99.41 miles with a lithium-ion battery.

Date of delivery? The company informed AutoTrader that they were in the preliminary stages of prototyping the vehicle and hope to have a physical prototype sometime next year.

“So, what’s a physical prototype?” we asked VP of Design Darren McKeage.

 “It’s basically the first full scale vehicle to be built,” he answered. “It won’t necessarily be production ready, but will be a fully running example of the car.”

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Holly Reich writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on uptownlife.net.

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