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PHOTO CAPTION: BMW i3 hemp-based door panel. Photo: redspiderfish/Flickr

BMW i3 Saves Weight Using Hemp Fibers

i3 electric car reportedly not the first BMW automobile to make use of hemp fiber, in its case it's used in door panels to save 10% in weight. The car also uses kenaf fiber.

Published: 05-Aug-2013

The BMW i3, a new all-electric car which debuted on Monday, weights just 2,700 pounds, 800 pounds less than the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. BMW achieved this by using a variety of low-weight materials --including plenty of hemp in the interior -- to maximize fuel efficiency and driving range.

Weight is essential, reports TruthonPot.com, because the i3 depends on a 22-kilowatt lithium-ion battery for fuel; the battery is so heavy it contributes about 20 percent of the vehicle's mass. Like many BMWs before it, the i3 features door panels made of hemp; mixed with plastic, hemp helps lower the weight of each panel by about 10 percent.

Hemp fibers, left exposed, also form a design element of the car's interior, reports Bloomberg. Designer Benoit Jacob says 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."

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