Tuesday, August 21, 2012

India’s Tata Motors Pushing Compressed Air Car Technology Forward

In 1840  two Frenchmen - Andraud and Tessie - tested a compressed air vehicle on a track. The automobile reportedly “worked well,” reports the air-car lobby, “but the idea was not pursued further."

In 2007 India's Tata Motors bought the rights from MDI, an engineering company based in Luxemburg that has been developing zero pollution engines since the early 90s. The Airpod has a 175 liter storage tank of compressed air that you refill with an external pump or with an electric motor that can 'refuel' the car while it is in motion. This first model reaches a top speed of 43 mph (70 km/h). One tank lasts over 125 miles (200 km) and takes only two minutes to fill at an average price of just one euro per fill.

The Airpod has three seats for adults plus a smaller fourth seat for a child and space for luggage. It only has three wheels, two doors and no steering wheel. It is driven with a joystick. MDI has the public and service sector in mind, naming runners, messengers and artisans as its target market. Currently the car is still described as "in development", after a concept vehicle was unveiled in 2011 and successful tests made in May.  It is one of five models MDI is developing. They're also working on a truck, sedan, convertible and bus version. Tata and MDI expect to release the Airpod commercially in the near future for $10,000.

Honda also released a (sportier) Air Car concept in 2010 - but no production models have yet hit the road.

Due to its weight and speed, or lack thereof, Green Car Reports asks "will there ever be an air car that's a practical enough proposition to tempt people away from electric cars of the future? It doesn't seem likely--leading us to believe that air cars will be the next big green joke."

August 13-16, 2012

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