India’s largest automaker has announced that it will begin producing the world’s first commercial air-powered vehicle. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre for Luxembourg-based MDI, uses compressed air to push its engine’s pistons, instead of gasoline. Some 6000 zero-emissions Air Cars hit Indian streets in August of 2008. Here is a picture of their model:

The $12,700 CityCAT, pictured above, can hit 68 mph and has a range of 125 miles. It will take only a few minutes for the CityCAT to refuel at gas stations equipped with custom air compressor units. And you can imagine how cheap compressed air is actually going to be. According to the manufacturer, MDI, it should cost around $2 to fill the car’s carbon-fiber tanks with 340 liters of air at 4350 psi. Drivers also will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tanks in about 4 hours. This last perk is the best. You can just fill up your car while it’s in the garage. Cool.

The problem with this item is that we won’t see it here. It has an all glue construction that won’t pass our stringent regulations for automobiles. Also, if you take a look at it you can see that it’s not the kind of thing that Americans are going to get worked up about. Even so, you can’t write it off as insignificant considering that MDI has signed deals to bring this vehicle to 12 countries, including Germany, Israel and South Africa. It is ideally suited to these smaller countries where cars don’t take as much of a beating.

A more hopeful project for Americans is ZPM’s new car that runs on compressed air. Compressed-Air Powered cars being designed by ZPM, could take you over 800 miles on a single fill-up, at speeds of up to 96 mph. They should refuel in less than 3 minutes, which American’s will love. And the emissions are awesome: at speeds over 35 mph the cars emit about half the CO2 of a Toyota Prius.

So, if you can, imagine a vehicle that runs on air, gets an over 100 gas-equivalent mpg and can hit speeds over 90 mph, has zero to low C02 emissions, seats as many as six, has plenty of space for luggage, cuts no safety corners, and costs no more than an average economy to mid-size vehicle. And look at it here:

Does this seem like a dream? But, really, it isn’t. This is the expected performance of the revolutionary compressed air vehicle that Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) is introducing to North America. The vehicle is powered by the Compressed Air Engine (CAE) developed by Motor Development International (MDI), a 15-year old company based in Nice, France, and headed by inventor and Formula One race car engineer, Guy Negre.

MDI has already announced the model names it will use on its models. The overall car brand will be the FlowAIR. The existing protytypes will retain their first names to now become the One FlowAIR, Mini FlowAIR, and City FlowAIR. The urban public transportation concept vehicles will be know as the Multi FlowAIR. This is a reality to come to us all very soon. I think it’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen.

So, now you ask: How do I get one? Well, ZPM will begin taking reservations in mid-2009 for US deliveries of this compressed air vehicle in 2010. To stay informed on the actual date of release, subscribe to Air Vehicle Update .

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