In an earlier comment to AutoblogGreen, The Oil Drum said they planned an interview with MDI this week and they would ask about the release date. The Oil Drum's interview is now online and it seems to have confirmed my fears. According to MDI's Louis Arnoux, the 2008 release of the air car depends on further investment and plants that won't even make cars (at first). Here is the full question and response:
Question: When will construction of the manufacturing facility in Melbourne commence?
Answer: That depends on investment levels and MDI's delivery timetable. At present rate I am expecting establishing a first manufacturing facility during the second half of 2008 and being in full production in 2009. Initially, our focus is going to be on producing power generators, then we plan to move on the automotive applications.
Also very concerning is that MDI seems to think they can pass safety tests fairly quickly. You can read the full question and response below the fold. I'm no expert on how the Australians make things and certify products but I seriously doubt MDI will pull it off a release this year. Even with sufficient investment, I would expect this process to take several years at least. Considering this is very new technology, I don't think five years or more is out of the question.
[Source: The Oil Drum]
Question: How long do you believe it will take to obtain approval from the various Australian state vehicle licencing Authorities ? Has crash testing been undertaken and approved by Australian authorities ? What would happen if an air tank is ruptured ?
Answer: MDI is constantly monitoring regulations world wide and designing each feature of its vehicle to meet the most exacting of all specifications. So I do not expect any significant issue to obtain approval in Australia. The OneCAT will have very innovative design features concerning crash safety. Nothing much would happen in case of a tank rupture. The tanks are underneath the car floor, built within the chassis frame and design to bleed towards the ground in case of a rupture; so just a big "pshiiiit".