India to launch air-powered car in 2008
The first car in the world propelled by compressed air is scheduled to be cruising India's city streets sometime next year.
Developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Negre, the Air Car will be built by Tata Motors, India's largest automaker. Tata Motors anticipates producing 6,000 Air cars by 2008.
The Air Car uses compressed air to push its engine's pistons and should be practical and reasonably priced. The CityCat model's top-end speed is 68 mph with a driving range of 125 miles.
Refueling is easy and takes just a few minutes if you live near a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately US$2. If a driver doesn't have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car's built-in compressor to refill the tank in about four hours.
Technically, the Air Car is not an "emissions free" vehicle because fossil fuels are burned to power the compressor. But the carbon emissions per mile still far outdoes any gasoline car on the market.
The Air Car is light-weight and made from glued-together fiberglass construction. It may never hit the streets of America because of crash test requirements. However, NĂ¨gre has signed deals to bring its design to 12 more countries, including Germany, Israel and South Africa. Tata Motors is already working on a hybrid version that would use an on-board, gasoline-powered compressor to refill the air tanks when they run low. Negre says that technology could easily squeeze a cross-country trip out of one tank of gasoline.