Saturday, June 07, 2008

World's First Air-Powered Car: Zero Emissions by Next Summer

Matt Sullivan, Popular Mechanics (June 2007): India’s largest automaker is set to start producing the world’s first commercial air-powered vehicle. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre for Luxembourg-based MDI, uses compressed air, as opposed to the gas-and-oxygen explosions of internal-combustion models, to push its engine’s pistons. Some 6000 zero-emissions Air Cars are scheduled to hit Indian streets in August of 2008.
Barring any last-minute design changes on the way to production, the Air Car should be surprisingly practical. The $12,700 CityCAT, one of a handful of planned Air Car models, can hit 68 mph and has a range of 125 miles. It will take only a few minutes for the CityCAT to refuel at gas stations equipped with custom air compressor units; MDI says it should cost around $2 to fill the car’s carbon-fiber tanks with 340 liters of air at 4350 psi. Drivers also will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tanks in about 4 hours.
Of course, the Air Car will likely never hit American shores, especially considering its all-glue construction. But that doesn’t mean the major automakers can write it off as a bizarre Indian experiment — MDI has signed deals to bring its design to 12 more countries, including Germany, Israel and South Africa.
LSB: In the same way that they are defying the push toward bio-fuels, the Big Three auto makers, Big Oil and the politicians they own will never allow these cars to come to the U.S. Talk about energy independence is just that - talk. Better to continue polluting our skies and sending our young men and women to fight for oil than honestly push new technologies. Hey, these cars are not perfected yet and there are many obstacles to overcome, but why isn't U.S. ingenuity leading the way?

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