We snickered aloud when we first read about MDI's vehicles powered by compressed air. But MDI wasn t, ahem, deflated by our initial skepticism. The company is moving forward on its plans to offer an air-electric powered vehicle for sale in 2005, and even created prototypes of several models, including taxicab and pick-up truck designs.
The cars engine technology uses a novel hybrid combination of electric (or fossil fuel) motors and air compressors. In urban areas, the cars can operate at short distances at zero emissions, using only compressed air to drive its four pistons. At longer distances, the car calls on its supporting engine to run the compressors and charge the air supply.
Still, Questions about the cars' efficiency may still hang up the company's plans to offer the car for sale in Europe (one environmental lobby group in Belgium issued a statement that the electric version consumes more power-plant energy than it delivers on the road).
Some of the new MDI designs:
The Air Car [MDI]
Air-Powered Car Ready for 2005 Production [internal]