I do a lot of research on cars and the auto industry and sometimes see old stories resurface and get reported as new again. One of those happened yesterday, when I saw the headline, “Tata’s New Target- A Car to Run On Compressed Air.” The story is dated September 27, 2011, and mentions the new air-powered Tata MiniCAT (sometimes called a CityCAT).
How interesting. Because it sure seems like I’ve heard that before… Oh yes, here we go. Here’s the same story from July 9, 2008.
The “air-powered car” story has certainly made the rounds, and for some reason people still cling to hope that its release is imminent. However, a search on Tata’s website turns up zero results, and no new information seems to have surfaced since 2008. The technology is said to have been invented by Guy Nigre and his company MDI.
The early stories at least seem somewhat credible, as Autoblog reported in 2007,
The CityCAT’s made of lightweight, glued-together fiberglass and foam, and the engine is made up almost entirely of aluminum. The air tanks hold 52 gallons of compressed air at 4,351psi, and refueling can take only three minutes at your local gas station. You can also plug in the vehicle for about four hours, so the on-board compressor can fill the tanks at a cost of about $2. Initial plans call for Tata Motors to produce about 6,000 of these air-powered transportation devices for the India market, but 12 other countries including Germany, Isreal [sic], and South Africa have signed deals with MDI to buy their own air-cars.
It was also reported that this glued-together car with carbon fiber air tanks can travel up to 100 miles on a tank of air and will cost just north of $8,000. Right. Anyone else not surprised we haven’t seen this car yet? Might as well also promise that its only exhaust is pure gold that can be collected and mailed in for cash.
In fact, back in 2009, the New York Times ran a piece pretty much debunking the whole air-powered-car thing. So now I say we officially put this story to rest.
Do you think we’ll ever see a mass-produced air-powered car on U.S. roads?