Compressed air fuels city cars

Cars that run on compressed air will soon be hitting city streets. A French car firm is about to open its first factory, which will produce ‘zero emissions’ cars at a rate of two per hour.

MDI Enterprise is nearing the completion of its first factory in Carosse, in the South of France, which will manufacture cars that run entirely on compressed air. The company has signed contracts to build a further 35 factories across Europe, including three in the UK, ten in Italy and six in Spain, Guy Nègre of MDI told edie.

MDI’s range of cars and taxis are built with the capacity to compress and run on air. Overnight the cars are plugged into the grid, and need around 22KW to refill their tanks. During the day, the cars can average 200km around a city before they need to be recharged and refuelled.

MDI’s cars are described as zero emitters, because no pollutants are created in the process of compressing and burning the air, and the car filters the air it absorbs, regurgitating a cleaner product at the waste end, says Negre. However, the cars need to be charged with electricity produced from renewable energy for the entire process to be emission-free.

Once launched on the market, MDI’s small cars, called CITYCATs, are expected to cost no more than the average car – between €8,000 and €10,000, says Negre. Better still, the cost of running each car is estimated at €0.75 per 100km. CITYCATs can cover 240km at an average speed of 60km/h, up to a maximum speed of 110km/h. The company is currently experimenting with similar designs for buses.

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