Paris, Oct. 28 (Reuters): Visionary 19th century French writer Jules Verne once described a fantastical future world where cars would run on air.
He may not have been totally wrong.
Inventor, car enthusiast and environmentalist Guy Negre has built a car powered by compressed air and hopes it will be chuffing along roads across the world within the next few years.
Inside Negre’s car, cold air compressed in tanks to 300 times atmospheric pressure is heated and fed into the cylinders of a piston engine.
No combustion takes place, so there is no pollution.
The car can be refilled with air at home using an electric compressor and Negre hopes that, one day, drivers will be able to recharge the cars in filling stations in three minutes for as little as $3.
The air car, which he says will cost 6,800 euros ($6,700), looks a little like DaimlerChrysler’s easy-to-park Smart city car, with one row of seats wide enough for three and a curved, pod-like front end.
“We needed an alternative to the gas-guzzling norm so I decided to make one,” the former Formula 1 racing engineer said at the Paris motor show, where his toy-like run-around nestled among the latest sports cars.
Negre, who has been working on the car for 10 years, admits it sounds too good to be true. But he says scores of industry insiders who first scoffed at his invention had been sidling up to his stand for a closer look.
Some point out that, although the car itself pumps out no pollutants, the electricity needed to compress the air still comes from power stations that spew fumes or leave behind hazardous nuclear waste.