2002 Ford MA Concept

The quest for ever-better lightweight manufacturing materials has led one electric vehicle builder to consider using woven bamboo fiber and vegetable resin in the place of costly carbon fiber or heavy fiberglass. The material is already being put to use in the surfboard industry, and Greg Abbott, a guy who spends his days converting internal-combustion vehicles to EVs, says that in the future, EV kits may have bodies that use bamboo for their body structure. Abbott says the material is strong enough to fall somewhere between fiberglass and carbon fiber on the strength-to-width ratio scale.

Bamboo has a number of fairly obvious appealing traits as a manufacturing material. The crop is quick-growing, stout and easily replenished, which makes it inexpensive as well. The plant is used in everything from flooring to textiles, paper and water processing, so the thought of turning to bamboo for car bodies isn't that far fetched.