Contrary to what TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington thinks, French people are quite intelligent… and once again, they’ve proven to the world that they can live up to their reputation. French engineer Guy Nègre has been working on the concept of an air-powered car for the past 15 years, and his industrious efforts are starting to pay off.
The principle that makes this car work is very simple. Instead of using gas to create an explosion and make the pistons move, the vehicle’s engine is powered via three compressed air tanks located under its chassis. Environmentally speaking, this means all that goes out the exhaust pipe is cold, pure air, which can even be used as an air-conditioning source on a hot summer day.
As far as performance goes, the vehicle is pretty amazing. With a top speed of 110 kilometers per hour, it has autonomy of around 300 kilometers. All that is needed to fill it up is a compressed air station, and in case of emergency, an electrical source can be used to power the built-in air compressor, which can fill in the air reserve in about three hours. The core of the technology is controlled wirelessly via computer and the car’s electrical system is composed of a single wire.
Here’s how the technology will pay off: Nègre’s corporation, MDI, just signed a contract with Tata motors, India’s main car manufacturer. This means MDI will now be able to take advantage of a mega corporation’s resources, and produce their vehicle en masse. Will the future of land transportation reside in air-powered engines? Will we be seeing these cars on the North American market in the next decade? No one can predict the future, but it’s probable that we will see electrical and hydrogen-powered cars on the roads before air-powered ones. After all, these are the technologies that major car manufacturers seem to be pushing right now. Here are a few pictures of MDI’s air powered vehicles.