Indian TaTa Car Runs on Air, Literally

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For weeks we have been reporting on all sorts of alternative fuels. Now, Indian-manufacture Tata has built a car that runs on compressed air. Yep, take a breath. Your car might run on that someday.

Indian TaTa Car Runs on Air, Literally

This Cab/Taxi 6 passenger concept runs on Compressed Air. Talk about being kind to the environment!

Tata has developed what is calls Tata Mini CAT, or Air Car, a compressed-air concept small car/taxi that could max out at 50 mph and would get 80 miles per gallon.

The real nice part? The infrastructure for fueling it up is already in place. Where you might wonder? At the gas station, not the gas pumps, but the air pump for filling up your car/bike tires. Many of these places allow you to fill up your tires for $1 per one minute. According to an article on Gas 2.0, the thought then is that it would take $2 to fill up the tank of the TaTa car/tax concept. That means it would run 80 miles on $2 worth of air.

Now there is some conflicting reports on whether these air pumps would be strong enough to actually fill up the tank. However, with the air already in place, it doesn’t seem to be so much of a stretch of the imagination that adding more infrastructure would be feasible.

TaTa Mini Cat Engine

The TaTa Mini Cat Engine sure looks pretty clean.

According to a story by Car, the vehicle itself is a six-seat mini van using two 340-litre carbon fibre gas tanks which are filled with air to 4350psi. It also uses a tubular chassis design with fibreglass panels that are glued together, helping to keep weight down. All the accessories and in-car equipment are powered by a microprocessor. From the exhaust the only thing that is emitted is air, of around zero to minus 15 degrees in temperature.

TaTa has previously built a few different models including the Nano, a 58 mpg very inexpensive car and a very small Emo EV. While these models have proven that Tata is open to a lot of new, different ideas. It will take a lot of work to get consumers to buy into this new concept.

Reports have it that Tata is aiming to release the Mini CAT Air Car in India in 2012. The prices are expected to start around $12,000.

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  • Filed Under: Auto News


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    1. mendonsy says:

      4350 psi?????????????????
      That’s either a typo or one VERY SPECIAL air compressor. You sure won’t get anything near that pressure from your local service station!!

      • Jason (Admin) says:

        True enough, but as KMS says below, the compressor needed is available.

        I remember reading about someone trying to power a truck with a big heavy spinning flywheel. Get it spinning fast enough, and you can use the inertia to help power a vehicle from a dead stop, but then “recharge” the flywheel during breaking. It supposedly improved fuel economy about 15% during testing…but compressed air seems smarter and cheaper.

    2. Dez says:

      Yup a little confusing there to say the least. Maybe it comes with a high pressure home compressor? Who knows?

    3. KMS says:

      I doubt that the 4350psi data is a typo. Many scuba tanks are rated for 4500psi and there are compressors on the market that push that no problem relatively inexpensively. Your average gas station could upgrade to a capable compressor for well under $1000.

      Personally I think this a cool idea and one that makes some sense for the urban commuter types.

      • Jason (Admin) says:

        Great comment and great points. Innovation is good, and a compressed air minicar is potentially useful in situations where short distance driving is the norm (hello, NYC).

    4. mk says:

      never heard of that at all. Very neat idea and should highly be considered since 50 mph is almost, say almost, fast enough for most commuters and if these vehicles being so cheap at 12K can be made to be safe to drive, it will relieve almost entirely our dependence on foreign oil for most vehicles needed on the road. Great idea that the federal govt. should pursue and do immediately. I’d buy one for 12 grand for a commuter car if all you need is hot air (I got plenty of that – ha ha)

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