The car features a fibreglass body and a revolutionary electrical system and is completely computer-controlled. It is powered by the expansion of compressed air, using no combustion at all, and the exhaust is entirely clean and cool enough for use in the internal air conditioning system.
There are no keys – just an access card which can be read by the car from your pocket.
Due to the absence of combustion and, consequently, of residues, changing the oil (1 litre of vegetable oil) is necessary only every 50,000 Km.
How it works
In both cars, an electric pump compresses air into the tank at a pressure of 300 bars. The pump plugs straight into an ordinary household socket and takes four hours to complete the recharge.
"When you get home you normally plug in your cell phone," said Braud. "Well, now you do that with your car too."
The already attractive economics of the Air Car — MDI claims a recharge costs just $2.50 at French electricity prices — can only get more persuasive if oil prices stay high.
"It certainly can't hurt," said Braud. "It will help encourage people to switch over."
The Air Car's pistons, pumped by the escaping compressed air, can take the vehicle up to 70 miles per hour. It can travel 50 miles at top speed on a full tank, or further at lower speeds.
Slightly pricier hybrid versions achieve higher speeds and longer ranges by running on a combination of compressed air and conventional gasoline, or bio-fuels derived from organic matter.
MDI says the air-only models meet the needs of most urban drivers, who average just 11 miles a day. And the only exhaust that comes out of the tail pipe is cold air.
"Moteur Development International" (MDI) is a company founded in Luxembourg, based in the south of France and with its Commercial Office in Barcelona. MDI has researched and developed the Air Car over 10 years and the technology is protected by more than 30 International patents and MDI is actively seeking licensees, with according to the company, 50 factories in Europe, America and Asia signed already.
The Tata Agreement
Tata Motors is India's largest automobile company, with revenues of US$ 5.5 billion in 2005-06. With over 4 million Tata vehicles on Indian roads, it is the leader in commercial vehicles and the second largest in passenger vehicles. It is also the world's fifth largest medium and heavy truck manufacturer and the second largest heavy bus manufacturer.
Tata has signed an agreement with MDI for application in India of MDI's engine technology, and believes the engine is viable – it's press statement described it as "efficient, cost-effective, scalable, and capable of other applications such as power generation".
The agreement between Tata Motors and MDI envisages Tata's supporting further development and refinement of the technology, and its application and licensing for India.
MDI is a small, family-controlled company located at Carros, near Nice (Southern France) where Guy and Cyril Negre and their technical team have developed the engine technology and the technologically advanced car it powers.