Saturday, April 26, 2008

Some Air-, Electric-, and Diesel-Powered Vehicles in the Pipeline

The past week or so was chalk full of articles on alternatively-powered cars. Upon seeing all these articles, I was astounded by just how much effort and investment is taking place in this area. Given the huge effort, it seems very likely that car buyers' options will be greatly expanded in the coming years.

We wrote previously about MDI's air-powered car (here and here). And Forbes has written a recent article on the firm as well. In addition to Tata Motor's license to produce the air-powered car in India, Forbes reports that Zero Pollution Motors has purchased a license for the U.S. market. Zero Pollution Motors hopes to offer a 100-mpg vehicle for about $18,000 by 2010.

For those of you interested in green ideas generally, you should check out Fortune's recent report on "11 great green ideas". They profile a solar company, a recycling firm, and alternative energy ventures, among others. Also profiled is Aptera, a firm that has already sold out its initial run of 1300 electric hybrid vehicles that aim to get 300-mpg thanks to revolutionary aerodynamics that nearly eliminate wind resistance and therefore reduce by two-thirds the energy needed to move the car. Venture Vehicles is also profiled. It expects its plug-in hybrid VentureOne (which also looks nothing like the cars seen on the road today) to hit the market in 2010 and get 100-mpg.

The Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors is becoming increasingly bullish about its Volt, hoping that it can go into production as early as November 2010. And it looks like GM is viewing it from at least two strategic angles as well--to "eliminate this perception of GM as the environmental antichrist" (according to Bob Lutz) and to help GM meet increasingly stringent CAFE (fuel efficiency) standards.

And finally, BusinessWeek suggests that some new high-mileage diesels set to hit the U.S. market could give hybrids serious competition. The article reports that more than 50% of new-car sales in Europe are diesels, and Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Kia, and Mahindra have all announced plans to introduce diesels to the U.S., beginning this year.


CATvolution said...

The most up-to-date information on the 2010 North American Citycat model of compressed air vehicles (air cars) can be found on my fan website at:

The official website is and the U.S. representative is at

The information you're quoting from the Forbes magazine is based on the 2006 prototypes that are being road-tested in France.


Dave said...

It's interesting that the air-powered cars are gaining traction. I still don't understand how it solves the energy problem. Air isn't an energy source. Someone has to compress that air and that's what takes energy. Yes, it's consolidated at compressing stations instead of in many car engines, but still, it doesn't seem like it saves much energy. In fact, since you have to work twice (compress the air and then use the compressed air to drive an engine), it seems like you're asking for more inefficiencies.

That said, it may well be a reasonable solution for certain big-city transportation issues. It's clean and probably quiet and in a city, the smaller range is less of a concern.