The idea of introducing a compressed air car to the market is not a new one, as you might already know, but it has never been so close to becoming reality. The Motor Development International (MDI) is in fact about to launch its first model of car that uses compressed air technology. The first model, named AirPod, will cost less than £6,000 and will be available for the European market in 2013.
The first units will be sold in France and priority will obviously be given to those people who will have pre-ordered the vehicle. The manufacture and distribution of these cars will be innovative too: there won’t be any car dealer or re-seller as customers will be able to buy their cars directly from the factories. This means that, according to MDI’s plans, factories will start spreading throughout the continent, with the aim of making the entire process of manufacturing and selling far more direct and immediate. Therefore no middleman or intermediaries are involved and this will lead to a considerable cut in costs throughout the supply chain. According to MDI, it would cost much more to transport cars from one side of the world to the other, which is currently common practice among car manufacturers. By doing so, each factory will guarantee a drastic cut in costs deriving from logistics while keeping production efficient, with 7,000 units produced each year.
Back in 2007 MDI had agreed a deal with industry giant TATA Motors, with the latter prepared to invest heavily in the compressed air engine. A technology that was first introduced by the French back in 1870 but that has never managed to break through and become commercialised. This was due to the large amount of technical difficulties and safety threats of such technology, as well as the introduction of the internal combustion engine back in the day.
The cars set for launch in the European market are expected to have an autonomy of approximately 62 miles for £0.80: absolutely stunning! Also the air compressed car can be easily charged in specific petrol stations in just 2 minutes or from home by simply plugging the car to the socket, taking approximately 3 hours for a full charge.
One of the main criticisms moved against the air compressed technology is that it takes a great quantity of energy to compress the air, due to the fact that air has little energy, hence the compression level is expected to be extremely high. However, according to MDI, these new car concepts, due to their very light weight, consume less energy to move, making them cheaper than electric cars.
The next model to be launched after the AirPod will be named AirOne and will be fitted with a 15 Kw engine for a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour (against the 7 Kw and 50 mph maximum speed of the AirPod). Another model to be launched will be the AirCity, much bigger than the others, with a look much more similar to a normal car and the ability to reach a maximum speed of 80 mph with 25 Kw power.