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Insight: Air powered cars

About a decade ago we first heard whispers of compressed air cars: an eco-friendly driving option that kept travel costs low. AirCar

Now, with mineral oil fuelled cars under pressure on price and pollution, air-powered vehicles are finally becoming a reality, with the first trials about to start in Europe. 

Luxembourg-based Motor Development International (MDI) in conjunction with New Zealand’s IndraNet Technologies, is releasing an AirPod air-run car in France, the Netherlands and New Zealand in 2009, as a pilot-run for a Europe-wide launch. 

This is one of four basic models, which are expected to retail at about £2,950 – AirPod, OneFlowAir, Mini- FlowAir and CityFlowAir. 

AirPod measures just 2.07 metres long and 1.6 metres wide. The other models have lengths varying between two and three metres and widths of between one and two metres.

The joystick-driven four-seater AirPod three-wheeler should start its commercial life in Europe is spring, with Air France Industries and KLM Engineering and Maintenance running a six-month trial of the zero-emission vehicle at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. 

Success in the AirPod trials could herald the roll-out of other MDI compressed air car technology in Britain and elsewhere. Dr Louis Arnoux, from IT MDI-Energy (the joint venture operated by MDI and IndraNet), says he is now looking for a company to buy the rights to manufacture its vehicles in the UK.The AirPod runs on a small compressed air engine and has two alternators for each of the rear wheels. One tank of air lasts around 137 miles. It can reach 70km per hour (44mph), say the makers.

Read this story in full in the 26 Dec 08 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.

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