• Feb 14th 2008 at 2:28PM
  • 53
According to Climate Change Corp, the Air Car will be released this year thanks to a $30,000,000 investment from Tata. Months ago, we told you about reports in The Age newspaper and BBC News that MDI, Moteur Development International, said the car would be released in 2008. We dialed back our enthusiasm when we read in an Indian paper that Tata said the car sill required two years' work. Fears concerning a delay were confirmed when Oil Drum asked MDI about these concerns and it stated a release this year was dependent on investment. That money has now been promised.

Tata has invested in the Air Car before, and the company is not officially saying whether the investment pushed up the Air Car's release date. MDI spokesperson Alan Zaire does say there is "no shortcoming in technology" and that the company has "resolved [its] financial problems." So, look for the Air Car to be launched in France late 2008 or early 2009, with an exclusive release in India by Tata (maybe based on Tata's hatchback). The cars are powered by compressed air, have a top speed of 68mph, a 125-mile range and will fill up in minutes at a cost of $2. Thanks for the tip, Steve!

[Source: ClimateChangeCorp]


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  • 53 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh, and I forgot to mention the other dirty little secret of air cars: they lose horsepower the closer they get to empty. So, if the *initial* top speed is 68mph, how fast do you think you'll be going when you're running on an empty tank?

      Also, they lose the inherent benefits of electrics (low maintenance (assuming long-life batteries) due to having almost no moving parts, efficient regenerative braking, etc). Oh, and also they often don't make clear when the numbers they give are relying on range extenders, which are often used on the shorter-range air cars (the range extenders basically being fuel burners that heat the air that comes out before it gets to the pistons).
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yep, the real problem is efficiency. The best industrial compressors which use the heat regeneratively get about 60% efficient. A small compressor like you'd get onboard a vehicle or put in your garage will get 10-15% efficiency at best. Then factor in power generation efficiency (typically 40-50% for modern plants), transmission efficiency (~92%), and drivetrain efficiency (~80%?), and you're left with barely over 4% efficiency. Compare to ~20% efficiency for a gasoline engine.

      In short, drive an aircar powered by a home or onboard compressor if you want to *destroy* the environment. Drive one filled by big industrial compressors if you want to make no difference to the environment.

      As for safety, yes, gasoline, batteries, and air tanks all contain a tremendous amount of energy. A burning pool of gasoline will take half an hour to consume itself. "Safe" li-ion batteries (for example, A123's "Nanophosphate" or AltairNano's "Nanosafe") don't burn at all in an accident, unlike LiCoO2/graphite "laptop batteries"; their energy is in ion energy states, so you can discharge a lot of energy all at once if there's a short in an accident, but that'd only be an internal short (external shorts would blow out the fuses on the terminals). In an air car, if air escapes, it's going to *really escape, and fast*.

      Even if there's no shrapnel, which is very iffy, it's still a tremendous amount of concussion and thrust. 10,000 PSI is three times the PSI of a scuba tank, and the tanks in this car are far bigger than scuba tanks, too. Anyone who's watched Mythbusters has seen what happens when you sever the neck of a "mere" scuba tank (it shot straight through a cinder block wall leaving a scuba tank-shaped hole in the wall)

      Lastly, for cost, the only reason it's so cheap is that it's made by Tata. It costs several times what an equivalent size gasoline car by Tata would cost. Personally, I wouldn't even drive a *gasoline* car made by Tata, let alone an air car made by them.

      This is not a solution.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Meme.. I think you wil be proven very wrong on every point. If you like it or not, Tata will become a world leader very quickly, there is no doubt about it. We in the western world are so blocked in our visons of what and how a car should be that we just don't want to understand that cars can (and have to) be build in a different way as done up to now.
      As with any new idea, there are problems and shortcomings, but instead of putting them down, we should learn from Tata and accept the challenge to make it work. But we can't, that's why they have the future and we don't.

      • 7 Years Ago
      There is no danger of tank ruptures. We have decennia of experience of transporting safely any gas in high pressure containers... why should it be a problem all of a sudden?
      And about the whole refilling.. what about a quick tank swap? If the car is designed the right way, it could be done in seconds. Much faster than filling up with gas... The tanks are refilled at the same station for the next customer.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That's a fine explosion scenario you paint there, MarkR, but it is far from reality. A ruptured air tank would discharge rapidly and noisily, but tank design engineers would see that the shrapnel is kept to a bare minimum. So no million pieces, no cloud of ignitable vapor, no hazardous liquid spills. If the range of an air car can be made adequate, what's not to like?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hi
      Expecting relaease of air car,
      I pray god for that wonderful day
      • 7 Years Ago
      Meme.. just one more comment.. "Prove me wrong that cheap import cars from poor countries are generally lousy."

      Calling China and India "poor" countries... China already has the world economy in their hands, including the US economy... India is becoming quickly number 2...

      and that YUGO example.... that's sooo stale.. the Yugo came out 1985 based on a car design from 1971. We do live in 2008.


      • 7 Years Ago
      As far as I understand this french website from guy negre :
      http://www.mdi.lu/fra/affiche_fra.php?page=moteurs

      The "air car" will burn fuel !
      Something like 2 liters for 100 kilometers when your not in city.

      So it might be a good car but for those who drive only in towns.
      • 7 Years Ago
      do you know how structurally weak a cinder block wall is in a small surface area...your a retard meme
      • 7 Years Ago
      euh.. 30 millions that is..
      • 7 Years Ago
      [quote]Pretty sure ypu would have posted the same kind of comment when the otto motor was introduced over a hundred years ago... or the Diesel engine.... [/quote]

      Oh, of course! Because I oppose one technology because to run it efficiently *violates the laws of thermodynamics* means that I must inherently oppose all technologies. Your logic is impeccable.

      [quote]The fact is that this car works, it exists..[/quote]

      Who are you arguing with on this point? Certainly not me.

      [quote[it is no fantasy.. and that TATA have invested 3 real millions in it.[/quote]

      Once again, who are you arguing with?

      [quote]You have all the right in the world to differ opinion[/quote]

      And you have the right to ignore physics.

      [quote]Calling China and India "poor" countries... China already has the world economy in their hands, including the US economy... India is becoming quickly number 2...[/quote]

      China GDP per capita (non-PPP): ~$2,100
      India GDP per capita (non-PPP): ~$814

      That's not poor to you?

      These are countries that are just starting to industrialize, and their reputations for quality are extremely poor.

      [quote]and that YUGO example.... that's sooo stale.. the Yugo came out 1985 based on a car design from 1971. We do live in 2008.[/quote]

      "Those who do not learn from the past..."

      The first model of the Yugo came out in 1981; the 1985 model came to the US in 1985. Virtually all cars are based on earlier designs, so I'm not sure where you're going with that part (and if you mean to differentiate China and India's products, ha; they're notorious for ripping off western companies' designs).

      Let me know if this sounds familiar: poor country seeks wealthy western markets to sell car produced domestically. Car gets imported and costs 1/2 to 2/3rds as much as all of the other cars in western markets! Car starts to sell... and is quickly determined to be junk. As Consumer Reports said of the Yugo, you'd be "better off buying a good used car than a new Yugo".

      Of course, that's not entirely a fair comparison. Yugoslavia, with a GDP of then >$20B and just over 20 million people, compared to the US's GDP of then half of what it is now and a population 80% of what it is now, was proportionally wealthier per capita and more industrialized back then in relation to the US than India is now, and roughly equivalent of China's per-capita wealth.
      • 7 Years Ago
      A company called "Zero Pollution Motors" is going to bring the AirCar to the US. They are not yet taking orders, but you can sign up to be on a miling list :-)

      http://zeropollutionmotors.us/

      Also, Zero Pollution Motors plans to take the air car into the Automotive X Prize, which should be interesting.

      http://xprizecars.com/2007/12/mdi-inc-and-zero-pollution-mot.php
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