Air-Powered Car Hits Indian Roads
Tata Motors is testing compressed-air powered cars.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: May 17th, 2012
ndia's Tata Motors is taking alternative fuels to a new level, by testing compressed-air engines. Now the company is looking to set up plants to build the engines.
There are several problems with compressed-air engines, which is why they aren't in heavy automotive use, even though compressed air powers plenty of things, such as tools. One problem is storage—compressed-air tanks need to be super strong, to withstand the pressure. Since large tanks are impracticle due to size, range is limited.
Power is also an issue; compressed air can only get a car moving to 30 or 35 miles per hour, meaning engines would need either electricity or gasoline for supplemental power. While this would reduce emissions drastically, it wouldn't eliminate them.
Also, as it currently stands, "refueling" time for a compressed-air tank is about two hours. Not terribly convenient.
Given all these challenges, we don't see an air-powered car succeeding anytime soon. Even if Tata does succeed in India, we expect the idea would take some time to catch on in the States, due to regulatory and infrastructure challenges. Still, we like the idea of a completely emissions-free vehicle.