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Geneva show features air-powered car

Published on 05/03/2009

GENEVA - Consumers are used to the idea of cars powered with alternative fuels, from hydrogen to electricity. But running a car on air?

French firm MDI says it can be done, and used the Geneva Auto Show to display a bubble-shaped three-wheeler it plans to launch later in 2009.

The AirPod can travel up to 220 kilometres on a single 175-litre tank of compressed air, producing zero emissions on the road, MDI spokesman Sebastien Braud said Wednesday.

Drivers can recharge their air supply in eight hours by plugging the car into electricity outlets, or by going to special ‘air stations’ where the process takes only two minutes.

The AirPod will be tested by airlines Air France and KLM at their bases in Paris and Amsterdam, starting in May, said Braud. Another trial will begin in the southern French city of Nice in December.

The car will take some getting used to, and not just because of its novel power supply. Steering is done with a joystick, and the only doors open to the front and back. The two passenger seats are rear-facing and can be replaced with a cargo space.

Braud said the AirPod solves the problem of most electric-powered cars, heavy and costly batteries. This allows the car to be sold at a comparatively modest EUR 6,000 (CHF 8,870).

MDI is already planning a second model. The 4-wheeler OneFlowAIR will also run on compressed air, but can burn conventional fuels to extend its range.

Braud dismissed the suggestion that consumers might find his air-powered models a little lightweight.

Pointing at the green offerings of several well-known brands at the Geneva Auto Show, he questioned why anyone who wants an eco-friendly car would buy a heavy sports vehicle.

"That three-ton, 300 horsepower electric over there? That’s bioterrorism," Braud said.

AP / Expatica

For more information, view the AirPod website