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The Amazing Compressed Air Car

Updated on March 1, 2012

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

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

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    • profile image

      VirginiaR 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Luidavinci 5 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"

    • Hypersapien2 profile image

      Hypersapien2 5 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.

    • profile image

      Andris1970 5 years ago

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

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 5 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.

    • profile image

      Ladyclodine 7 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.

    • profile image

      TimWint 7 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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 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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    • profile image

      Rosso 8 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!!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Welcome to the Totally Awesome Lenses Group


    • profile image

      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.

    • profile image

      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!

    • profile image

      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.

    • profile image

      falanfanny 9 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

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

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

      Because of the oil lobby

    • MusicMadness LM profile image

      MusicMadness LM 9 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.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 9 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Where can we order this car ?

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 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!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Looking forward to buy one

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Looking forward to buy one

    • MarcNorris LM profile image

      MarcNorris LM 9 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.

    • profile image

      alicesy 9 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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    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I would by one today.

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!