Jorge Chapa

The Air-Powered MDI Car is Coming to the US!

by , 02/26/08

tata1

India’s air-powered four wheel marvel, the MDI Air Car, will be coming to the United States in 2010! The eco-friendly air-powered vehicle will be manufactured by Zero Pollution Motors, who just licensed the technology from MDI. It’s another entry in the growing field of the subcompact class, and another challenger to the title of world’s most fuel efficient vehicle.


tata motors, car, air-power, wind, power, air powered car, air car, Tata MDI, air compressor, zero emissions, zero pollution motors

Reservations for the Air Car will begin early this year, and we are sure that interest in the vehicle will run quite high. While there will be different models around, the company is really focusing its efforts on bringing a six-seat modified version of the CityCAT. This new CityCAT version will not only come with more space, but will also come with a more radical version of the MDI engine, that, according to ZPM, will achieve a top speed of up to 96 miles per hour and a stunning 1000 miles travel distance.

The MDI Air Car vehicle announcement has caused quite a splash. The interest in India has been immense so far, and we are sure that the introduction of this vehicle to the US will be just as intense. Look forward to see it arrive in 2010.

+ Zero Pollution Motors

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40 Comments

  1. mungo jerry March 11, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    they should make some kind of compressor hooked to the weels for brakeing .like an A/C compressor off a car that when you step on the brake the electric clutch kicks in slows the car down and helps charge the air tank back up .like on long hills cause you will need that charge to get back up the other side … . what goes down ,must come up and also what goes up, must come down ……….. thanks

  2. Anon December 7, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    As usual, the MDI air cars fall further and further behind on production schedule. Meanwhile, MDI announces the new verions AirPod. Tata Motors announced in August 2008 that the the planned production of 6,000 cars by summer 2008 wasn’t going to be met because the MDI air car technology was nascent and not ready for production anytime in the near future.

    This should not be a surprise to anybody that followed the MDI and Zero Pollution Motors announcement in 2000 of production of the e.Volution car that was to start in France in late 2000, in South Africa in 2002 and in Mexico in 2003. None were ever built.

    The actual performance data MDI ever release showed their prototype only able to go 7.22km (a bit less than 5 miles) before running out of air. But then they hypothesized a series of future improvements that would extend the range by a factor of 30, and then used that hypothetical range. To the best of my knowledge, no MDI prototype has ever managed more than 5 miles of travel before running out of air.

    The gullibility of the press and a few investors continues to astound me.

  3. GlennW125 July 10, 2008 at 9:56 am

    The Comments about how this car is not efficient and its wasting energy elsewhere is complete bull. It takes only 2-5 minutes to fill up its 3 4500PSI tanks underneath completely made out of carbon fiber so no big explosions if your not a bad driver to get into a crash. As well as its about 10 to 20 dollars of electricity at your local gas station to fill it up. I don’t know about you guys wanting to have a 14 gallon tank Toyota Prius which takes about 50 bucks to fill up at 4 dollars a a gallon, which is also rising in price, and also has emissions from the car to pollute the environment and it only goes 450 miles before filling up again, that is to say you don’t have lead foot and go over 55mph. This Air car is ingenious for it can go 800 miles at least while going 76mph!! For less then 18000 bucks, also cheaper then the Prius models, this car is a must have. Who cares if it wastes a little more energy, eventually that energy will come from solar power, wind power, and current power. It still is saving more for the consumer, so the people who are freaked about the energy loss, look more into the matter at hand. GAS IS RISING IN PRICE!!! Convert to a cheaper method for the consumer and the energy crisis will decrease soon after.

  4. monetiris7 July 1, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    I am American and I think it is amazing. I also think we all have to think more globally. I was taught this as a child and I am now in my 40′s. I feel more parents should do so. The air quality will be so much better and if we change things through attrition globally how wonderful it will be for all of us. I am sure the technology will keep improving and tastes of different cultures will sway the designs for each place it goes to. What a wonderful invention. The colors caught my eye and I just so want to see more of the inside of the car now. Just an amazing thing for me to see and read about. never thought it would come while I was still young enough to enjoy it.

  5. dfresh June 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    What they should do is offer a way to make your own compressed air. That would make the car completely free of fossil fuels. They should offer a system in which you could set up a stationary bike and petal your way to a full tank of compressed air, With the gearing of a bike, you could probably charge your air compressor in about 15 minutes and in the process, even get a bit of exercise, People would love that option. And if you felt lazy on a given day, you could go back to the standard way they suggest to recompress your tank.

  6. Avagadro June 8, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    All of you that think this concept is the answer to energy problems needs to ask one question; Where is the working prototype that performs as is claimed? The answer: has not been seen.
    The car that was shown to the press barely made it 4.5 miles in tests.
    The concept is very inefficient, compressing air results in a tremendous loss of energy, mostly as heat but also as friction in the compressor.
    There does not exist a compressor capable of the pressures claimed that would be suitable for placement in a vehicle.
    The tank volume claimed will not hold enough air to move the vehicle the distance claimed.
    They speak of heating the air before it goes into the engine cylinder as a way to increase range, that heating would be necessary regardless as a consequence of the expansion of air from the tank, we all know as pressure goes from high to low cooling takes place.
    Does anyone understand the difference between a “CLAIM” and a “FACT” we have heard nothing but claims that have not been proven. All we have seen is a car that traveled a distance of 4.5 miles.
    They have promised production ever since 2001 when a factory to make taxis for Mexico was supposed to open.
    They fall short on every claim they make.
    A little bit of scientific knowledge applied to the claims shows without a doubt, the car CAN NOT travel the distances claimed..Did anyone pay attention in Physics class?
    If you play poker do you not ask to see the other person’s cards, or do you just believe what they say?
    If you just believe what anyone says or claims, I would love to meet you….and maybe play cards.

  7. topdocjim June 2, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Whoa there, Tomas buddy! When you burn gasoline, there is an overhead associated as well: producing it, hauling it to your local service station, etc. It’s a lot more efficient to transfer electricity at 135 kV than hauling gasoline with a tanker truck that gets 4 miles/gallon. The prices are not perfect, but they roughly reflect the cost of production, and 1kW of electricity is cheaper than an equivalent kW of gasoline. Natural gas is actually a good alternative, but is NOT renewable and will rise in price. We’ve tried all the windmill stuff and the ecologists don’t like the bird-kill; solar and other stuff is just not competitive. Now the greenies are going for – are you ready? NUCLEAR. Well, well, well…back to where we started, aren’t we? Me, I want one of these cars in the worst way.

  8. collieman May 17, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I’d buy one of these cars in a heartbeat! Can’t wait til they get to the U.S. I’m ready to go to France/India to get mine right now. Sick of this crap where the Arabs and speculators have us “over the barrel” and threaten us with $25 a gal gasoline. I don’t care if they look like a cardboard box I’d still buy it. When they get to the U.S. the stying will change to what we are accustomed to. No problem there. WE HAVE TO MAKE A CHANGE! So let’s get started right now.

  9. Cage May 12, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I think the concept drawing is for the American version which isn\’t out yet. The actual models shown are for the european, Indian and Mexican market. According to their website the American cars will have to meet all the safety requirements mandated by the government. As for those who say this is not a green car because it uses electricity that is an idotic arguement. Its the car companies duty to make a less poluting car, its the owners duty to see what type of power is used for the electricity. Since the price to fill it and drive the equivalent miles is about a tenth in some markets as that for gas it must be extremely efficient in how much electricity it uses. If off peak electricity is used at night to charge it then it may be possible to charge millions of them without adding more electrical plants. The people against this are big oil companies wanting to run everything else down while they kill us with the ever growing price of their product not to mention the polution. Even electricity made from coal plants would be far cleaner and that polution is more easy to filter than the smog from vehicle tail pipes.

  10. Eric May 8, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Captain white trash and the “gangsta” wanta-be hip-hop man will not be interested…
    but I am!
    I’d spend the night in the parking lot to get one.

  11. opal_boston April 22, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    i can’t wait till this car gets to the US. it may not be very pretty but hey anything that help the enviroment l’ll buy. but i have questions
    it something breaks down, where do we get it fixed?
    where would we find the compressed air tanks?
    how many cities will it enter first and then how long until it arives at smaller cities and so on?

  12. Half-pint March 12, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    That car has got to be one of the ugliest things I have ever set my eyes on but if it can do what they say it can, I’m buying it as soon as possible.

  13. The Air-Powered MDI Car... March 11, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    [...] India’s air-powered four wheel marvel, the MDI Air Car, will be coming to the United States in 2010. The eco-friendly air-powered vehicle will be manufactured by Zero Pollution Motors, who just licensed the technology from MDI. It’s another entry in the growing field of the subcompact class, and another challenger to the title of world’s most fuel efficient vehicle. Read More … [...]

  14. 9korn March 11, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Cannot imagine that how to fill the air in the box with very very hight pressure, and box ‘ll made from what materials type?
    My car ‘s whell just 30 Psi.

  15. Carol March 10, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Power plants are much more efficient than car engines, so even if your electric company doesn’t give you the option of green power (mine does) you will be saving energy. I love the idea of this car.

  16. David Severns March 8, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    It is ashame that in the United States with three huge automabile companies, the United States people cant build cars like this. We have to see other countries actually develop something that works. The sad thing is our engineers are some of the smartest in the world. Our manfacturing is outstanding, and Our workers would build a great product. So the question is why has it not happened. The only reason I can figure is that maybe the CEOs of the Auto companies are deeply in bed with the Oil companies. At a time when the US needs to get out from the extortion of the Middle East, we are sitting on our ass.

  17. Jin March 8, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Electric, compressed air, solar…

    It doesn’t matter when you’re sitting in endless gridlock and we continue to plan our cities for the roads and highways rather than the people.

  18. p h mann March 1, 2008 at 6:34 am

    This compressed air engine technology is potentially an earth shaker. Admittedly, it is now in its infancy compared to long developing combustion engines BUT, when this engine is hybridized so that It achieves adequate power to meet propulsion challenges AND SIMULTANEOUSLY compresses the air needed, in a relatively small compressed air tank (compared to the large manual refill tanks now used), it will be revolutionary – virtual perpetual motion. No “filling stations” (the fuel tank is ALWAYS full). Exhales cleaner air than it inhales. Talk about a real “manhattan project”. MDI has done the ground breaking on a technology that, while not eliminating fossil fuel use, could END the world’s ADDICTION to it.

  19. g510 February 29, 2008 at 11:47 am

    First of all it DOES clean the air as it moves. The air compressor has a ferocious filter in it to remove fine particulates that would otherwise cause wear in the engine. Thus the air that is stored in the tank is cleaner than the ambient air, and when you drive around, that cleaner air is what is emitted from the tailpipe.

    Second, the concept drawing is one model, the minivan-like vehicle is another, each intended for a different purpose. People who are too vain to be seen driving a streamlined brick can wait until another model comes out.

    Third, even with the flaws of electric powered charging considered, even coal-fired electricity is cleaner than what comes out the tailpipe of gasoline powered automobiles. Ideally you’d be getting your power from climate-clean sources such as renewables and nuclear, but between now and then it’s still a decent improvement.

    I’ll be looking for a new vehicle in a couple of years. If I could get the micro-van version, and if it does have capability for highway speeds and ranges, I’ll be seriously considering it.

    By the way, unlike electric cars, this one has built-in air conditioning at no added energy penalty. The reason being, when the compressed air expands as it passes through the engine, it cools down considerably, and thus with a simple heat exchanger, can be used for cooling a fresh air input source to the interior of the vehicle. So you can drive through the southern US where it’s hot as hell outside, and you’re cool as a cucumber in the vehicle. Neat, eh?

  20. Jason February 28, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    @ tomas…

    Uh… why not have a wind turbine at your house to charge a DC battery either on the car (with an onboard compressor) or for a compressor in your garage… or a small, creek driven turbine??

    It makes total sense to me. If the compressor is mounted on the car, but removable… that way, for short trips, you don’t have to carry the weight of the compressor and you can just charge up before you go. For long trips, put it back on the car so that you can plug in along the way, or at your final destination.

    Ultimately, if this car took the exact same amount of energy to build/charge as a gas powered car, the environment would be better off because the car itself is not pushing out fumes.

    Then you’d have to weigh the added strain on the power plants to cope with millions of people charging their cars. At that point, we would need a shift from big power plants to more ecological solutions.

    You’ve gotta admit that a car that runs on air is a very positive step away from an oil dependent transportation industry. Even if the only result is increased air quality in urban areas… which would lead to less respiratory issues (health = $$$$$), etc…

    JMHO

  21. joshhaglund February 28, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I think we’re being taken by the marketers at “zero pollution motors.” This car is not an improvement. Compressing air takes A LOT of energy. As another post pointed out, transmitting energy takes a lot of energy. That this car could easily consume more energy than a similar car with internal combustion engine. Tho more expensive, a battery and motor will give you a much better return on your energy investment.

  22. tomas February 28, 2008 at 7:45 am

    This car in NOT ecologic! The marketing people who are promoting this car as ecologic “forget” that you need electrcicity to fuel it up with compressed air. and since most of us don’t have acces to electricity that is for 100% produced by renewable recources but rather by coal, gas or nuclear power plants, you are still polluting. the only difference is that you are not polluting there where you are driving, but maybe a few 100 kms away. And that brings me to the 2nd issue which is even more severe. From every kilowatt of primary energy (coal/gas/…) that is fed to the power plant, only 40% reaches the plug at your home. the other 60% is lost in converting it to electricity and transporting that electricity to your home. this means, when you need 1kW of electricty to feed the compressor, 2.5 kW of gas have been burned! conclusion: A natural gas powered car is much cleaner than an air powered car. UNLESS, this air power is generated by renewable resources,
    I believe we urgently need a standard, before things get a “green label”

    tomas

  23. Richie February 28, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Please ! Is the look of your car what defines you ? Is that it folks ? Is there such insecurity that how ‘Bad’ you car looks is what’s of paramount importance ? This car looks no worse that many passenger vans on the road today. It’s an amazing step forward that is to be commended and SUPPORTED ! Stop whining and get on the waiting list.. or accept being the ‘posers’ that you are !

  24. Nick Simpson February 27, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Jennifer’s point is a good one, how do you charge this vehicle when you park on-street? Or in a new suburban development where cars are kept separately from homes (look at the Staiths South Bank housing done by idpartnership, who incidently I work for)?

    The one thing I do have to wonder too is how safe these cars are, something about the built models just doesn’t make me feel like I’d pick them to be in a head-on smash in…

  25. oakling February 27, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    I was just thinking the same thing – if it could clean out the pollution that would be even better! But look at us – give us a car that doesn’t pollute and works great and we immediately think up and demand the next level :)

  26. Jennifer February 27, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    For those of us living in urban areas (probably the target market) without the luxury of personal drive-in garages, where the heck will we be able to plug-in/recharge? Great concept otherwise, but it has to be practical as well.

  27. Britt* February 27, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    If it looked like the concept illustration, I would love it. Now if only it purified the air while it was in use.

  28. Barbara February 27, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. This car is incredible beautiful for me because of its attributes. All these other uneconomical, wasteful, carbon dioxide emitting cars are ugly because they don’t perform the function to bring me from A to B without being environmentally maligne. Maybe I should write: Beauty follows function.

  29. Hugo February 27, 2008 at 4:14 am

    @ SIMON: this is not European design! Way to ugly. In fact, it is very asian. Picture a VW Lupo (European design) vs. a new VW Fox (South American), one can see the differences quite easily.

    If it is non-American doesn’t mean it’s European. America is honoustly the only country that makes everything bigger, more consuming and pompously (a v8 engine is very rare back here). But it is nice to hear that this focus is shifting in America.

  30. Scott February 26, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Yeah, the drawings and concepts are always nicer than the real thing. I dunno why they never go with them. Specs seem nice though, and having the different versions, like that small pickup truck version, is pretty neat. Perhaps commercial sectors would pick up on it first, zinging around the plant in their air powered vehicle for errands and smaller deliveries and such.

  31. Sean February 26, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I’ve had my eye on this for a couple years now. I saw it two or three years back, when Guy Negre was still perfecting the design and engine. I was elated when I heard that one of India’s largest auto companies had signed a deal for mass production. It’s good to know that Zero Pollution Motors, which has been trying time and time again to gain a foothold in the American market, is finally making waves. This is a revolutionary vehicle, and I’m proud to see it finally gain the attention it deserves.

  32. Leo Mac Ender February 26, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    This is the MOST BRILLIANT idea and for the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.
    Hurray, we do not need anything else but this technique for ever.
    We will allwayes infor the world via our homepage: http://www.lenergy.co.uk
    The best prize to this people.
    Leo Mac Ender
    Architect.

  33. Brave New Lefa February 26, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Agreed – I’m psyched for them to come out. Although it might be worth waiting until the second generation. This first generation will require you to find a service station to fill the engines of compressed air, but the second generation may have solar panels that power the car’s ability to self-compress the air into the engine!

    http://www.bravenewleaf.com

  34. Christian February 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    I don’t care how funny-looking it is. If it can really go up to 96mph and as far as 1000 miles on one charge, and if I could afford it, I’d buy one. Hard to beat the economics on it.

  35. Simon February 26, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    The car design is obviously european, and not tuned to North American taste. However, small wheels pushed to the extremities of the car’s body gives a lot of room inside for passengers. Big wheels do look good, but they are heavier. It’s performance/look vs usability, as always. I would say the concept is definitely not suited for winter countries though, with those small wheels and low profile. But as an urban car with some occasional long distance capabilities, it looks more promising than the electric counterparts.

  36. Eric February 26, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    How are they compressing the air? Is that taken into account in their energy consumption figures?

  37. Warren Brooke February 26, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Frankly I like the organic jelly-bean shape of the concept drawing. It is like the love-child of a Toyota Yaris and a Smart car.

    I believe the production cars shown in the photos are the taxi model. Lots of space for passengers, but it looks like a loaf of bread. I still like it, though. It looks very aerodynamic.

  38. Fangorn81 February 26, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I don’t want to dash anyones hopes (I want this car soooo bad!) but ZPM has had the US lisence since before Tata liscenced the design…I don’t see this as any new or definitive proof that I will actually be able to get one.

    Though I wish it was.

  39. Hugo February 26, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Nice technology. Those specs look like this car can compete with conventional fossil fuel burning transport. But I really wonder what happened between the concept phase (very nice drawing) and the final product (a really ugly car). I always just assumed that those low-budget car brands couldn’t afford a descent designer, looking at most cheap cars, but the concpetual design looks stunning…

    And another thing; although the car is green, those 40 patents protecting Negre’s CAT technology is not going to help make the world a greener place, it is just going to make him richer and richer. I say spread the technology and enjoy the greenlynes (is that a word?) of your invention, mr. Negre.

  40. Huon February 26, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Omg that is the ugliest car i have ever seen!!!

    I would probably look to buying one if it wasn’t so incredibly ugly.

    What were they thinking?

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