MDI Air Car

Compressed air offers consumers and protectors of the environment plenty to be excited about, and we’d like to see MDI succeed with this one.
MDI Air Car
photo from MDI

by Ross Bonander

MDI Air Car Specifications

  • Propulsion system: Air Engine, 800cc moto-compressor, 4 flat-lying cylinders
  • Top Speed: 68 mph
  • Zero-to-60: NA
  • MPG: NA
  • Vehicle range: 120 miles
  • Fuel(s): Compressed Air
  • Tailpipe emissions: None

The Manufacturer Says...

“MDI has developed a high performance compressed air technology. When it is compared to traditional gasoline powered engines, MDI´s engine is far superior in terms of energy used and thermodynamics.”

The Critics Say...

“The Air Car should be surprisingly practical.” —popularmechanics.com

“By all accounts, this is no pie-in-the-sky dream invention.” —celsias.com

Overview

The Air Car is the wider name for a number of models planned for production by MDI, including a 3-seat MiniCat due for 2008 and a 5-seat CityCat, among others. Their engines will either be dedicated compressed air engines—which release compressed air to activate the pistons—or dual fuel engines, using both compressed air and conventional gasoline. Either way, it’s hard to argue with compressed air as a clean, abundant, and inexpensive fuel source.

What We Like

The price. Depending on the model, these will retail for about $12,500 up to $16,000

The performance. The MiniCat, running only on a compressed air engine, has a top speed of 68 mph and a range of as many as 120 miles.

The recharge. Overnight at home, it will require about 4 hours. At a proposed recharging station, as a few as 4 minutes

The oil needs. A liter of vegetable oil can last the vehicle about 31,000 miles.

The emissions. At the tailpipe, emissions are zero. However, air compression—whether done at a station or at home—requires electricity, which is typically generated using fossil fuels.

What We Don’t Like

The construction. These all-fiberglass cars are glued together, meaning they have little hope of finding their way to America, where additional sales could mean a huge boost to alternative fuel vehicles.

The design. This may seem like nit-picking or like asking too much, but the proposed model designs bear a lot in common with the ugly functionality of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles.

Conclusion

When push comes to shove, the importance of the technology here far outweighs any other consideration regarding the vehicle. Compressed air offers consumers and protectors of the environment plenty to be excited about, and we’d like to see MDI succeed with this one.

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