It has a top speed of 80 km/hr (50 mph), a 200 km (125 mile) range, and depending on who you ask, it can possibly be refilled in a fraction of the time it takes to recharge an EV. Details are sketchy, and this compressed air-powered car has a history of false starts, but a consumer-ready Airpod may finally be ready to see the light of day.
Between 2000–2009, French company Motor Development International (MDI) repeatedly claimed the vehicle was ready for production. It wasn’t. Although MDI signed fabrication and distribution licenses with several foreign organizations during that time, many of the deals became apparently mired in legal troubles. Whatever happened, no cars reached production.
But MDI also signed an agreement in 2007 with Tata Motors in India, and after years of testing and development, it is Tata that appears most likely to release the first Airpod to the marketplace.
The Airpod’s tank holds 175 liters of compressed air, and you can refill it overnight via an on-board electric motor that sucks in air from outside. The inventor Guy Nègre stated in 2009 that he had developed a high-pressure air pump that could fill the tank in a minute; no word on whether this ever made it to production.
Add wind or solar power to this equation and you can have a near-zero emission vehicle, and it won’t have expensive batteries to replace either. The Tata cars will cost about 366,000 Indian Rupees – around 8,000 USD.
It sounds too good to be true, but here’s a quote from a 2009 article in The Guardian:
Independent energy experts are also cautiously optimistic. «I’ve looked at this technology and it can work,» says Ulf Bossel, a sustainable energy consultant and organiser of the European Fuel Cell Forum. «It looks good over 50km or so. I see no reason why this shouldn’t be a successful form of urban transport in the near future.»
Fingers crossed – we could be in for a game-changing invention.