Can Someone Tell Me The Flaw in This Air-Powered Car?

Wow, my friend Rick Moss started something here. The video he sent me (see immediately preceding post) was a video from I'd never heard of flixxy but it looked inviting so I decided to explore some of their popular video showings. One of the first I ran into is this French car powered completely by compressed air.

I've run into this video once or twice before but each time I do, I wonder, "Is there some fundamental flaw in this design that prevents it from being adopted worldwide?" And, "Why can't I buy one of these right now, today, here in Monterey?" India's Tata Motors was reported in late 2008 to be preparing to bring this vehicle to the U.S. this year and planned to begin taking reservations more than a year ago. A search of the Web today reveals no information at all about Tata's possible role in all of this. Maybe the Tata Nano's success as the cheapest ($2500) car in the world sidetracked their planning. Or maybe the fact that their Nanos had the unfortunate tendency of spontaneously bursting into flames distracted the company.

Wikipedia's article on the car dubbed the OneCAT by Tata marketers said, "In December 2009 Tata's vice president of engineering systems confirmed that the limited range and low engine temperatures were causing difficulties." As far as I can tell, nobody other than the car's inventor is working on this vehicle for commercial introduction. Durability is apparently another problem. But none of these issues sounds like a deal-breaker. If any of the large U.S. or Japanese automakers wanted to do so, they could almost certainly partner with the inventor's company and bring this car to fruition.

Yeah, I know that if everyone starting driving these the entire petrochemical industry at the foundation of the world's economy would go into rapid decline and collapse. But would a few million such cars on the roads be all that economically damaging? And how about the trade-offs with the environment? Is it worth keeping the human race alive to replace some chunk of the oil economy with something this intelligent?

Obviously there's something wrong with the picture. What is it? Surely not dollars? Perish the thought!

2 comments for “Can Someone Tell Me The Flaw in This Air-Powered Car?

  1. Laurence Rozier
    June 1, 2010 at 6:21 am

    While air is plentiful and cheap(though neither infinite or free) compressing it takes some energy and more energy is required to heat it if you want to get above 35mph. Whether gas or electricity is used to produce that energy, there’s gonna be some pollution. The idea has been around for a very long time and like every other auto propulsion idea, has more than a few non-trivial engineering challenges. Even if the air car(or other hybrid) could work as shown in the video on a massive scale, we don’t have room for hundreds of millions of cars. What we need to invent is a way to free our minds from the notion that auto transportation as currently configured must be a priority. Oh – wait a minute – didn’t we do that with mainframe computers?… 🙂

  2. Dan Shafer
    June 1, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Laurence…..I basically agree but I think the ratios here are much more favorable than with any other approach I’ve seen. I also liked the idea of having a compressor on-board that would essentially re-compress the emitted air. Though the vid called that “perpetual motion,” it obviously falls short of that idea.But the vehicle apparently has some durability problems along with whatever issues having an engine that runs too cold might be (for the life of me I can’t imagine what those are).Your point about the consciousness shift away from LOVs being more valuable long-term is right on.