Canadian firm reveals details of new electric vehicle and manufacturing consortium

The four-passenger, three-door, 850-kg, all-electric Kestrel will make extensive use of bio fiber-based composites and is expected to enter the market in late 2012.


Canadian firm Motive Industries Inc. (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) is developing a new electric vehicle (EV), currently named the Kestrel. Initial production work on the four-passenger, three-door, hatchback vehicle prototype began in August, and the car was unveiled on Sept. 13 at Electric Mobility Canada’s (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) EV2010 VÉ Electric Vehicles Conference, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The car’s design features bio-composite materials and innovative tooling and part-molding techniques that Motive says will permit profitable manufacture of the Kestrel at smaller initial volumes than traditional stamped-steel or aluminum vehicles. “The cost to tool a traditional vehicle is in the hundreds of millions [of dollars],” explains company president Nathan Armstrong. “The techniques we are using will allow us to scale up the tooling and manufacturing process as demand increases, with ramp-up costs affordable for a new company.” According to several published reports, including an Aug. 27 article in the Toronto Star by Tony Van Alphen, the company is using hemp fiber mats as the reinforcement in the car’s body. The raw hemp fiber reportedly is supplied by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada).

With a bio-composite body, the Kestrel will weigh in at an estimated 850 kg/1,874 lb. The low curb weight will give the car a maximum range of 160 km/99 miles with a lithium-ion battery (not to mention a top speed of 135 kmh/84 mph). Composites also will increase impact absorption and rust resistance. “Composite materials have been used in advanced applications for many years because of [their] relative light weight and ability to absorb impact loads,” says Armstrong, who points to similar reported results of recent testing conducted by Lotus Cars (Hethel, Norfolk, U.K.) on its Evora sports car. The Kestrel has been designed and will be manufactured entirely in Canada by a yet undisclosed consortium of Motive’s technology and manufacturing partners that are coming together under the title of “Project Eve.” Production manufacturing for the Kestrel is targeted to begin in 2012.

Motive Industries brings to the project 15 years of experience as a transportation design and advanced-materials manufacturing specialist. Motive operatives have participated in more than 120 vehicle-design programs, 10 of which are all-electric vehicles, working with EV startups, such as Aptera Motors (Carlsbad, Calif.) and ZAP (Santa Rosa, Calif.), as well as the established OEMs. Armstrong says the purpose for the Kestrel goes beyond simply creating another electric vehicle option for consumers: “We designed the Kestrel to encourage a new era in design and manufacturing for the automotive industry and also to support Canadian industry and jobs. The project was developed to fulfill a mandate from the government to identify the feasibility, costs and benefits of creating a Canadian brand of highway-capable EVs.” A company spokesman tells CT that Motive doesn’t intend to desert its position as a design and engineering firm, pointing out that the Kestrel concept is available for sale or lease to prospective partner companies. After fleet service and testing is complete, vehicle production will be assumed (possibly under a new model name) by one of Motive’s partners.