The Compressed Air Car

It appears, according to the BBC, we are another step closer to a compressed air car. Let’s start with the highlights:

  • Runs on compressed air
  • Seats 5
  • Will cost about $5,000 (that’s £2,500, imagine what it will be like if the dollar gets stronger!)
  • Will be licensed to manufacturers to produce locally
  • uses fuel only on long drives to heat the air

Sounds pretty ingenious, eh? And the article points out that “producing no emissions at all in town.”

I like a couple aspects of this car. First, I do like a $5K car. An affordable car! And the use of compressed air, on the face, has me saying “w00t!” It would appear that, from an environmental perspective, we have at least removed the various particulate contaminates from the local air. In fact, I was pleased to see the article specify no emissions “in town” since obviously producing the energy to compress the air will in most places result in some emissions.

I am also quite intrigued with the “produce locally” concept. Unfortunately, that will mean that the cost to manufacture will be different depending on locale, so the actual price of a car will vary widely by market. But then again, as we look at global supply chains we see once again the pressures of transportation costs pushing back to either larger inventories, local production, or both.

There are a few questions left open, as I await it’s delivery to the US.

  • Will US Manufacturers step up to the idea of “make locally?”
  • Will US Citizens buy a “ride” that isn’t all “pimped out?”
  • Will the vehicle pass the US’s strict safety requirements?
  • Will “gas” stations still only charge a quarter for their air?

The article itself mentioned the issues of the amenities, and the issue of safety. It is not clear from the article that the creator of the car understands all the issues with safety. According to the BBC:

Mr Negre says there’s no issue with safety – if the air-car crashes the air tanks won’t shatter – they will split with a very loud bang. “The biggest risk is to the ears.”

This does beg the question of impact safety, roll-over safety, and so forth, but it’s a start!

I suppose we wait, and see.