Air Apparent

If cars that fly through the air don’t move you, maybe you’ll go for a model with an air-powered engine. Indian automaker Tata Motors will build the predictably named “Air Car” and plans to have 6000 models driving around in India by 2008. Top speed will hit 68 mph and a fully powered engine will take you up to 125 miles.

So how does it work? Think of the new model as an electric car without the batteries. Compressed air powers the pistons in the 4 cylinder engine. Without relying on high-temperature combustion like traditional cars, engineers can utilize an aluminum powertrain that weighs less than half as much as a traditional engine. The net benefit comes in the emissions, which consist of warm air instead of noxious exhaust. Filling up should only set you back about $2. For an in-depth look at the mechanics and design, watch this YouTube video.

With releases planned in 12 more countries, will the Air Car ever make it to America? Probably not. The lightweight frame wouldn’t do well in U.S. crash tests. However, Air Car developer Guy Negre says that sometime in the not-so-distant future, we may see a gas-air hybrid that can go cross-country on one tank of gas. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see whether the latest environmentally-friendly technology isn’t just blowing a lot of hot air.

– posted by Taeho Lim

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