A British engineer has claimed that he will start selling a car within a year that runs on compressed air, producing zero emissions at all in town.
The OneCAT air automobile will be a five-seater with a fiberglass body, weighing just over 200 pounds and could cost just over $5,000, positioning the car to compete with the Indian Nano. It will be powered by compressed air stored in carbon fiber tanks that will built into the chassis.
The tanks can be loaded with air from an air compressor in less than five minutes - much quicker than a battery car. If no air compressor is available, the OneCAT can be plugged into the an electrical outlet for four hours and an on-board compressor will reload the car's air tanks.
For long trips, the compressed air driving the pistons can be supplemented by a gas burner which supercharges the air so it expands and puts additional pressure on the pistons. The gas burner will use all kinds of fossil fuels.
The designers say on long trips the car will get the equivalent of 120mpg. In town, the vehicle will run on air instead of fuel, and will get gas mileage that is greatly increased over the highway mileage.
"The first buyers will be people who care about the environment," says French inventor Guy Negre. But in addition to the environmental concerns, the car also needs to save money. "It also has to be economical,” Negre said.
The car promises major savings for those people who are brave enough to take a chance on a new concept. Mr Negre has claimed for more than ten years to be on the edge of a breakthrough. Independent observers are less skeptical this time because he recently received backing from the giant Indian conglomerate Tata to put the last touches to the air powered engine.
Tata is the only big firm Negre plans to license to sell the car and they are limited to selling cars in India. For the rest of the world he hopes to convince hundreds of investors to set up their own manufacturing operations, making the car from 80% of locally sold materials.
"This will be a major saving in total emissions," he says. By using local materials in the production of the OneCat, more emissions will be eliminated, making it a truly “green car.”
"Imagine we will be able to save all those components traveling the world and all those transporters,” Negre said.
He wants each local manufacturer to sell and promote its own cars to cut out the middle man such as dealers and he plans to have a market share of 1% of global sales which would equal about 680,000 cars per year.
Institution of Mechanical Engineers Terry Spall says: "I really hope he succeeds. It is a really brave experiment in producing a sustainable car."
But Spall said he was interested to see how the car would perform on safety tests and how much it would appeal to a public conditioned to expect luxury options like radio and air conditioning adding to the weight of the vehicle. Negre claims that there is no issue with safety with the small car, which will have enclosed safety cages.. The air-car crashes the air tanks won't shatter and will likely split with a very loud bang. "The biggest risk is to the ears."