The Story of Henry Ford's Hemp-Powered Concept Car

09 November, 2022
The Story of Henry Ford's Hemp-Powered Concept Car

In our journey together, we've come to learn a great deal about hemp and how versatile a plant it really is. It's a wonderful source of nutrients and CBD oil, an excellent resource for creating consumer and industrial goods, and the list simply goes on. When you really explore this form of cannabis, you'll be astonished at all the things you can do with it. Wouldn't it be a miracle if you could use this wonder plant to power your vehicle? Well…

Okay, so you may not want to just shove a bunch of hemp leaves into your gas tank, but it actually can be used as a source of fuel. In fact, Henry Ford, one of history's most recognized figures in the auto industry, created a vehicle that ran on hemp. Don't believe us? Well, read on to get the low-down on this hemp-powered concept car.


Yesterday’s Car of the Future?

Henry Ford constructed this green machine in 1941, and by green, we're not just talking about hemp (though that is part of it). Ford wanted to design a vehicle made from natural materials as a way to assist farmers who were affected by the Great Depression and to help lower carbon emissions. His design was cost-efficient, safe, resilient, and more eco-friendly. And not only was hemp a possible source of fuel, but it was also part of the vehicle's construction.

This Model T concept was made from bioplastics composed of several resources, including cotton, corn, soy, wheat, flax, and — you guessed it — hemp! As far as fuel, the engine was configured to burn ethanol instead of traditional fossil fuels, which could be sourced from hemp.

Believe it or not, climate change has been a concern as far back as the early 1800s, so by the 1920s, Ford was already envisioning a future where automobiles were powered by plants. Indeed, the visionary carmaker was so far ahead of his time that he was looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint decades before electric vehicles were in vogue. 

Henry Ford certainly saw the value in hemp. He even grew his own hemp crops, just like our first president. From the sound of it, he built one heck of an eco-friendly vehicle. How come it never made it out of the concept stage?


The Fate of Henry Ford’s Hemp-Based Model T

Sadly, not all great ideas make it to market. Sometimes, there are powerful entities that will do all they can to stop something they view as a threat, and that appears to be the case for this hemp-based Model T. 

As we already know, cannabis has only recently been gaining widespread acceptance throughout the United States. The oil industry was, as you can imagine, not too keen on the idea of alternative fuel sources. Joining forces with big players in the plastic and paper industries, lobbyists fought hard to make sure hemp cultivation was prohibited while ensuring traditional gasoline was more affordable. The lobbyists prevailed, and by 1937, hemp farming was illegal.

Even so, Ford was hopeful that one day his dream of green vehicles could be viable, so he kept up with his hemp farming even after it was outlawed. Although he was never able to find a way to practically bring his vision to life, the legacy of his concept car may have paved the way to a greener future. 

The world would finally see another hemp car in 2017 when Bruce Dietzen of Renew Sports Cars designed a vehicle with an exterior made from hemp. And what's particularly exciting about this car is that it is capable of removing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. 

While we still have a ways to go to figure out a more sustainable method of manufacturing such a vehicle, it's exciting to know that a hemp car has the potential to reduce some of humanity's impact on the environment. With the passage of the Hemp Farming Act in 2018, who knows? Perhaps this plant will truly lead us all to a brighter and greener future.