The Air Car – Is It For Real?

The ‘air car’ is still making headlines since just the thought of a car that runs on compressed air excites the imagination. But some skeptics are wondering if such a vehicle is even possible. Some in the scientific community believe that the volume of air needed to propel a vehicle would require a very large compressor that would need to be gasoline driven. Though the inventors claim a 100+ MPG range, some are not so sure this is even possible.

Over at CNN an article states:

Plenty of skepticism exists, but with many Americans trying to escape sticker shock at the gas pump, the concept is generating buzz.

The technology has been the focus of MDI, a European company founded in 1991 by a French inventor and former race car engineer.

New York-based Zero Pollution Motors is the first firm to obtain a license from MDI to produce the cars in the United States, pledging to deliver the first models in 2010 at a price tag of less than $18,000.

The concept is similar to how a locomotive works, except that compressed air — not steam — moves the engine’s pistons, said Shiva Vencat, vice president of MDI and CEO of Zero Pollution Motors.

Experts aren’t sure Americans will be zipping around in air cars and getting 106 mpg, or more than twice the fuel economy of hybrid-electric vehicles such as the Toyota Prius.

It is possible to power a car with compressed air, but the mileage claim is “at the edge of possibility,” said John Callister, director of the Harvey Kinzelberg Entrepreneurship in Engineering program at Cornell University’s College of Engineering.

He noted such dramatic fuel efficiency is associated with tiny experimental cars, not bigger mainstream

Interesting concept if in fact it works. Hopefully we will find out sometime next year when it is thought that this vehicle could show up at the Automotive X Prize for vehicles claiming 100 MPG or more.

What do you think? Is this for real or just in someones imagination?

Comments welcome.