An Indian company has already invested $30 million in this? I am not an engineer but how does the efficiency of filling up compressed air compare to water or hydrogen or gasoline or diesel?
NICE, France â€” It seems almost too good to be true: a car that runs on something you can literally pull right out of the atmosphere. French developer Guy NÃ¨gre, a former F1 racing engineer, has just hooked up with Tata Motors of India on a development deal that could see the CAT (compressed air technology) car on roads in the near future.
NÃ¨gre's company, Moteur Developpment International (MDI), has been working on the vehicle since the early 1990s, showing concepts at alt-energy conferences and collecting dozens of patents. The car has been produced in prototypes called the Minicat for in-town driving and the Citycat with a longer driving range thanks to an additional diesel or ethanol tank on board. It uses an electric motor paired with compressed air of the type used by deep-sea divers. The pressurized air makes the car's pistons move â€” and the pistons compress the air into a reservoir that lets it keep working.
The plan is to offer refills of the compressed air at service stations. Tata has invested nearly $30 million in the project and reportedly will start pre-production of the CAT car this year. How it stacks up next to Tata's own just-introduced Nano, the $2,500 "people's car," should be interesting. The CAT car is expected to be priced closer to $6,000. NÃ¨gre has an answer for that in the OneCAT concept, which would come in a "basic and cheaper" version with no backseats â€” and no top or windows.
Details about the car â€” including a 3D animation of the powertrain â€” can be seen at the Air Car Web site.
What this means to you: Sounds like a good use of a renewable resource â€” if it can really be made practical. â€” Laura Sky Brown, Correspondent