The MDI AirCar is not recent news. There have been lots of articles in different media relating the wonders of a vehicle that works with compressed air. The air goes to the engine and the pressure, modulated with the throttle, determines the speed. This offers, in theory, quite a number of advantages: zero tailpipe emissions and a cheap way to store the air with a dedicated compressor that fills the air tanks in 3-4 hours (according to the designer). A summary of the characteristics of this vehicle are:

  • Two types of engines: Hybrid (compressed air and a thermic engine that switches on from 30mph) and City (just compressed air). The latter is suitable as a neighbourhood vehicle (no-driver's license required in some European countries) and able to run in Central London for free
  • The announced performance numbers: Minicat: 3-4 hours recharge (from standard European 230V plug) or 2 minutes if using a high-compressed air station. 25 HP, a maximum speed of 110 km/h (68 mph) and a range of 150 km (90 miles). That's the last model announced on their website
  • Different versions: urban car, micro car (about the size of the Smart), a panel van, a taxi (shown) and a pick-up (about the size of a Fiat Panda).

However, although it looks like a feasible technology, there are some concerns about what is going on at MDI.

Related:

[Source: Popular Science, MDI; Thanks to David B. for the tip]

First, the car has been announced to be put on sale quite a number of times. At their site they have press releases for launches in 2001, 2002, 2004 (as said in one of our past posts about this car), 2005 and we have recently got news that it would be built in India with the colaboration of Tata Motors. MDI's website also speaks a few times about the construction of factories in a few cities around Spain. Actually, most of the press releases are in Spanish - being MDI based in France.

The FAQ announce a price of 6890 EUR (about 9250 USD) for the MiniCat and 9450 (12500 USD) for the CityCat - No VAT and other taxes weren't included. You can buy a stripped-down Dacia Logan for 7500 (VAT included).

If you want to purchase the car, the website offers a form that promises to get back in touch with further informations once the factories are settled. Does this mean MDI couldn't find yet authorisations to build those factories? Could it mean they didn't have enough investors?

Anyway, here's the link for a 2005 video from "Beyond tomorrow" where they show the car in motion. It's quite enjoyable

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