The Eco Elise – utilizing hemp, solar power & a whole lot more.


The new Lotus Eco Elise makes its official debut at the London Motor Show today. See BBC video.

The Eco Elise uses a host of sustainable materials to make up the body and trim, including hemp, “eco wool,” sisal and a new high-tech, water-based paint that can be applied by hand. It’s fitted with a set of flexible solar panels on the hard top to help power the electrical systems, reducing the drain on the engine and improving efficiency. There is a new green shift light on the instrument panel that assists drivers in maximizing fuel efficiency.

All of these elements reduce the Eco Elise’s footprint throughout its lifecycle, limit the amount of energy used during production. Lotus looked to reduce the car’s environmental impact by focusing on how it is made as well as how it performs:


  1. Creating cleaner manufacturing processes
  2. Using sustainable materials
  3. Reducing carbon impact of logistics


  1. Developing renewable energy generation
  2. Promoting efficient driving techniques
  3. Reducing vehicle weight to improve fuel efficiency

Mike Kimberley, CEO of Group Lotus plc commented “This Eco Elise is a great example of the advanced and affordable green technologies Lotus is developing. We are at the cutting edge of environmental technology and are determined to push forward with our green agenda.

Dramatic improvements to the culture and operations at Lotus has rewarded the company with staggering reductions in energy (Electricity 14%, Gas 30%) and water (11%) consumed across the Hethel headquarters in 2007, compared to 2006. These advances have coincided with improvements in recycling, with 57% of waste product now being recycled.

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7 Responses to The Eco Elise – utilizing hemp, solar power & a whole lot more.

  1. the Grit says:


    That’s a mighty fine looking car, but Lotus has always had a way with outward design. Your post also reminds me to write, yet another, letter to my elected representatives on the matter of legalizing the kind of hemp that’s not for smoking. Our politicians, in case you can’t tell from a distance, are twits.

    As to the integrated solar cells, I kind of doubt that they’ll help while the motor is running, as the power loss due to running the alternator is trivial in even a modest sized engine. It would, however, be mighty nice if it could power the ventilation system while the car is parked on a hot day without running the battery down.

    the Grit

  2. Christopher Paul Seyer says:

    This in itself is a beautiful thing.

  3. Christopher Paul Seyer says:


  4. Pete Smith says:

    Shame Lotus don’t acknowledge the contribution that Henry Ford made in pioneering the use of sustainable materials in car construction. As far back as 1910 he was experimenting with the use of agricultural waste materials in manufacturing car components, and went on to produce panels and other parts from soy plastic and hemp. His prototype Plastic Car was launched in 1941, with a weight 2/3 that of a conventional car.

  5. matt says:

    Very interesting Pete. Hard to know what cars should be made of really as all options impact the environment. Was watching some of Unreported World on Channel 4 last night. GM soya farming is spreading quickly in places like Paraquay and the effects on families living nearby from chemical sprays has been devastating on children and birth defects.

    Nothing is ever what it seems from our cosy urban metropolis 1000s of miles away.

  6. Pete Smith says:

    As I understand it, Henry Ford was motivated by a desire to use agricultural waste products, rather than resources grown for the purpose. His soy plastics used a base of soya meal, i.e. the residue after the beans have been crushed or ground and the oil extracted with a hydrocarbon solvent.

  7. matt says:

    Very interesting. I note from your article link that a number of materials went into the mix;

    Fillers, up to 50 to 60 percent, provided additional cellulose fibres, from HEMP, wood flour or pulp from sprice or pine, cotton, flax, ramie even wheat. The final mix was about 70 percent cellulose and 10 to 20 percent soy meal. When additional strength became necessary, glass fiber was also used.

    Certainly he was very serious about this approach;

    Soy meal plastics were used for a steadily increasing number of automobile parts- glove-box doors, gear-shift knobs, horn buttons, accelerator pedals, distributor heads, interior trim, steering wheels, dashboard panels, and eventually a prototype exterior rear-deck lid. Finally Ford gave the go-ahead to produce a completely prototype “plastic car,” including an entire plastic body.

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