The national average price for gasoline is currently at $3.58 per gallon, which is 86 cents higher than it was last year at this time, according to the Federal Energy Information Administration. With these prices steadily on the rise, wouldn’t it be nice to be free of your weekly fill-up? Well, many car manufacturers are doing their part in creating renewable energy cars that can replace our gas guzzlers and reduce pollution.
While several companies are focused on creating hybrid and electric cars, a few automakers are putting their energies towards creating cars that run solely on air.
How Can Air ‘Fuel’ A Car?
These air-powered cars are “fueled” by an air compressor that pressurizes air in the car’s tank to move the pistons in the engine. This is different from hybrid cars, which combine air with gasoline, ethanol, or diesel to do the same task. Many companies are looking at this form of energy as the next best thing and there are three major contenders in creating the first mass produced air-powered car.
Who’s Winning The Air Car Race?
Motor Development International, housed in the UK, created an air compression vehicle they call the AirPod. It is expected to cost around $10,000 and can reach up to 50 miles-per-hour. It lacks a steering wheel, instead being controlled by a joystick, and has only three wheels. The standard version of the car has four seats with a small amount of storage space remaining.
The Honda Air concept car debuted at the LA Auto Show in 2010. Honda anticipates that the car will be able to run on a “charge” for about 100 miles. It comes with a Honda generator to “refuel” or you can use any air compressor at home. They also say it will be possible to use tire fillers at a gas station to recharge the Honda Air.
The MiniCAT was created by Tata Motors, India’s largest car manufacturer. It is projected to cost around $18,000 and would be able to go about 186 miles before requiring a “refuel.” They are expecting each air refill to cost $2.00 and take about two or three minutes to complete. Tata Motors also hopes to eventually create refueling stations just for air-cars where drivers can get more compressed air for their vehicle when the air-car market develops. The MiniCAT also comes equipped with a small compressor that can be connected to the engine and refill the tank in three to four hours. It has a top speed of 65 miles-per-hour.
Air Cars Are Not As Green As They Sound
While it does sound nice to not have to hand over a mass amount of cash for gas each week, an air-powered car still comes with some costs. Researchers at the University of Berkeley found that the energy used to charge air-compression vehicles comes at a higher cost than just purchasing gasoline for a regular car. They also said that cars powered by air are “significantly less efficient than a battery electric vehicle” and also that they “produce more greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional gas-powered car.”
This does not rule out the possibility of one day having a car that runs on air, but it just means there are improvements that need to be made before you can rationalize spending your money on air instead of gas.