Who would think that a vehicle could be propelled using air alone as its fuel? For several years, the engineers at the French company, Motor Development International, have been pursuing this idea. The result is the Airpod which runs on compressed air. Tata motors, the automotive company based in India, bought the idea and has scheduled a launch for summer 2014. The Airpod is currently being manufactured in Sardinia, Italy. The cost is only $10,000, a real bargain compared to hybrid and electric cars.
Whether it’s gas or hydrogen, automotive fuel is compressed to deliver its punch. The key to the Airpod is compressing air to a level that will cause propulsion. Industrial giants have been using compressed air for years. It is fourth in use after electricity, gas and water. Compressed air is also completely emissions free, making it a real boon for the environment.
This is a lightweight car to say the least. The chassis is a composite of glass fiber and polyurethene foam. The whole thing weighs only 220 kilograms, i.e. 485 pounds.
The car seats three adults with an additional seat for a small child. It is definitely not a spacious car, but there is some room for luggage.
It can go only 43 miles per hour. This puts it on par with a fast moped. This also begs the question of whether or not it will be welcome on today’s fast-paced roads.
The cost of fuel is only one Euro, and it will drive up to 125 miles on just one fill. A fill just takes two minutes, by the way, and that’s much better than an electric car that needs four hours or more to charge.
Safety is a big issue. The car’s composite chassis can’t repel intrusion from other vehicles, making it a sitting-duck in a crash with a regular vehicle. With its speed and safety issues, the Airpod will face regulatory and other legal issues that could stop the car from gaining a foothold.
No doubt, the AirPod could function well in a world full of similar vehicles. In real life, the slow-moving vehicle will be hard-pressed to keep up. It could slow down roadways, making other drivers angry. Still, the low price, the inexpensive fuel, and zero emissions are three great reasons for the Airpod to succeed.