An automobile that runs on compressed air got a boost this week with an investment from India’s Tata Motors.
MDI Industries, of Carros, France, designed the cars based on technology invented by Guy Negre, a former Formula One engineer.
The project has been in development for 14 years, but no carmaker has yet put the car into production.
Now, according to some reports, Tata is planning to manufacture and sell air cars in India later this year for the equivalent of about $5,000.
But, in the Financial Times of London, Tata’s managing director downplayed expectations, saying: “It’s a very exciting concept, this way of running a car. We hope something will come out of it.”
The air car, which has a glass fiber body and weighs less than 772 pounds, has pistons powered by compressed air, as well as a fuel-burning engine for higher speeds.
The engine can be filled with compressed air from an on-board compressor or at fueling stations.
Some press coverage of the air car has questioned where these fueling stations will come from.
“There is a degree of skepticism about the air car,” said Indian car analyst Murad Ali Baig, according to the Web site ClimateChangeCorp.com.
The British Web site the Register mocked Negre’s long struggle to produce the car, calling it a “French hot-air jalopy.”
“Tata aids air car launch”
ClimateChangeCorp.com, February 14, 2008
“India’s Tata funds air-power car”
CleanTech, February 15, 2008
“Tata looks to develop air-powered car”
Financial Times (registration required), February 18, 2008
“Inventor promises bottle-o-wind car in a year. Again.”
The Register, February 14, 2008