The Amazing Compressed Air Car

Compressed Air Car - Coming Soon to a Dealer Near You?

They emit zero pollution, get over 100 mpg, and have a range of more than 800 miles. Could cars that run on compressed air be the future of clean transportation?

(Photo credit: Zero Pollution Motors)

Guy Negre is a former Formula One motor racing engineer who has turned his attention to building clean cars. The Frenchman is the father of the Air Car, a car that runs on compressed air and could revolutionize the auto industry.

If a car that runs on air sounds like a pipe dream that could never reach mass production, think again. In India, Tata Motors has already signed an agreement to begin building the cars, and pre-production begins in 2008. In the U.S., Zero Pollution Motors has an agreement to build the Air Car. ZPM will start taking orders in 2008 for delivery of cars in 2010. According to the ZPM website, the US version of the car will have a maximum speed of 96 mph, a range of 848 miles, and get the equivalent of 106 mpg. Zero Pollution Motors currently estimates the car will sell for $17,800.

If it lives up to its promise, the car could become popular with anyone looking for better fuel mileage and less pollution. Since the Air Car runs on compressed air stored in tanks like scuba divers use, it emits only air at speeds less than 35 mph. And the air expelled from the tail pipe is actually cleaner than the air used to fill the tank, according to the ZPM website. "This is because before compression, the air is run through carbon filters to eliminate dirt, dust, humidity, and other urban air impurities that could hamper the engine's performance," the site says.

At speeds over 35 mph, the car will use small amounts of fuel, but ZPM says the car will still emit "only 0.141lbs of CO2 per mile. That is up to 4 times less than the average vehicle and more than two times less than the cleanest vehicle available today."

Photo credit: MDI

Best Invention of 2007

TIME Magazine named the Air Car one of the

best inventions of 2007.

Air Car History

Vehicles that run on compressed air aren't actually a new idea.

A car that runs on compressed air sounds like it could only have been invented in the eco-conscious 21st century, but the history of compressed air vehicles dates back to the 19th century. It's just taken us awhile to "rediscover" this clean technology. Here's a quick timeline showing some important moments in air car technology.

1870s - Mekarski compressed air locomotive invented

1898 - Hoadley and Knight compressed air locomotive invented with a two-stage air engine that offered a greater range

1896 - Charles B. Hodges created an air car that was commercially successful; hundreds were sold to the mining industry

1912 - European three-stage air locomotive improved upon Hodges' design and were widely used in mines in Germany, Belgium and France

1979 - Terry Miller built and patented Air Car One for a cost of $1500

2002 - MDI Air Car publicly unveiled in South Africa

2007 - Tata Motors of India announced agreement with MDI to produce air cars in India

2008 - Zero Pollution Motors in the US plans to begin taking orders for a US Air Car for delivery in 2010

Interview with Air Car Inventor Guy Negre

BBC Video on Compressed Air Car - BBC News highlights the Air Car

More by this Author

Would You Buy an Air Car? - Let us know your thoughts on the air car or other green autos! 27 comments

tdove 8 years ago

Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

anonymous 8 years ago

I would by one today.

alicesy 8 years ago

Excellent Lens. I like the quality insight you have provided here about The Amazing Compressed Air Car. Keep up the good work.

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MarcNorris LM profile image

MarcNorris LM 8 years ago

Excellent Lens. I heard about the air cars back in 2002 and had not heard anything since. I am so happy to hear that they are still around and that we might actually get to buy one in the near future.

anonymous 8 years ago

Looking forward to buy one

anonymous 8 years ago

Looking forward to buy one

anonymous 8 years ago

I would buy one right now! I've signed up with ZPM for updates on production and hope to be one of the first to get one in the USA!

anonymous 8 years ago

Where can we order this car ?

LisaDH profile image

LisaDH 8 years ago Author

Hi Noy - If you're interested in ordering an Air Car, you can sign up for the email list at Zero Pollution Motors to be alerted when it becomes available.

MusicMadness LM profile image

MusicMadness LM 8 years ago

A friend mentioned these to be a while ago, and it seems like the may be out early next year. I'd love to get one. Not sure if they'll be available in Canada though.

anonymous 8 years ago

No surprise they don't allow that car in the USA

Because of the oil lobby

falanfanny 8 years ago

Quite interesting ! Nice post about air cars.Interesting and theme of the lens is good and impressive.Check it once here the carrentallocator blog

Oosquid 8 years ago

We desperately need something to replace fossil fuel, don't know if compressed air can do it but let's hope so. Very informative lens. 5 stars.

Carlton_McNab 8 years ago

It's amazing, many people think of this as a something new and untested but as you mentioned earlier the technology has been around since the late 1800s.

Imagine the positive impact a vehicle like this would have on the environment even if the only people who were using it were the ones commuting back and fourth to work every day!

Belindance 8 years ago

This is really remarkable, I hope this info about this car get's out more to the mainstream media. I have never heard of this car...let's hope it does catch on, and is successful.

ElizabethJeanAl profile image

ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group


Rosso 7 years ago

This all sounds very nice but is very missleading. Guys don't be so easily fooled! Beware of all of these too good to be true green solutions!!!

- "zero emissions" - how missleading is that? What does the air compressor run on? Answer - Electricity from the grid of course, which was probably made using fossil fuels.

- "better fuel efficiency" - better than what? There is no mention of how much electricity will be required to fill the tanks. Anyone who knows anything about compressing air will tell you that compressing air is very inefficient due mainly to heat losses, especially if you compress air to the high pressure required.

A real break through in air compressor and heat exchange technology will be required to make the ir car truely efficient.

The standard Prius hybrid will give far better efficiency than the AIr Car and less overall Co2 emissions. No I don't work for Toyota, nor the oil companies - I actually sell air motors!!

anonymous 7 years ago

fascinating... they dissed the electric car at first too... I am curious to see how this one comes forward...


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TimWint 6 years ago

You know, air doesn't compress itself for nothing. You have to use energy in some form to do that. Every time that there is a transformation there are losses. Otherwise, we would have perpetual motion machines. Not going to happen.

Ladyclodine 6 years ago

It is important to breathe fresh air, and with the pollutants all around it is hard to have one. Check honeywell air filters, it will give you a difference in breathing.

AugustineW65 6 years ago

@anonymous: This invention will save our environment and I think it must be patronised.

BrianRS profile image

BrianRS 4 years ago from France

Sounds fantastic, makes you wonder how well it performs though, 0 to 60 in ?. Thing is that when fossil fuels becomes so expensive no one can afford it, I suspect getting from A to B will take precedence over how quickly you can get from 0 to 60.

Andris1970 4 years ago

I would like to try this cars and probably by ,were i can do this

Hypersapien2 profile image

Hypersapien2 4 years ago from U.S.

I have a lens on fuel-efficient cars, but the compressed-air vehicle is new to me. Very interesting, though.

Luidavinci 4 years ago

Hello. Do you know if there have been any updates on the possibility of the air compressed car being sold in the United States? I would love to buy one - even if it means going to India and having it shipped here. Thanks so much!

Sincerely, Luis Aponte, author of "Death of a Gas Guzzler"

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SteveKaye 4 years ago

These look like a great idea. Thank you for publishing this lens.

VirginiaR 3 years ago

I would definitely buy one. I only heard about these recently and was so encouraged.

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