When will the "Air Car" be available?
Posted by Car Geek on January 20, 2008
The news at the end of last year about IT MDI-Energy’s decision to build in Melbourne has been probably the most popular news item here since the site began, especially so since The Oil Drum picked up the story and wrote a feature article on the technology. Big Gav has followed it up with an interview with Louis Arnoux, Managing Director of the IndraNet Group (who own IT Mondial, who are in a joint venture with MDI to create IT MDI-Energy; that might seem a bit far removed, but he’s also responsible for bringing the MDI technology to Australia, along with its inventor Guy Negre) and managed to coax a few answers out of him regarding the CAT engine, production timeframe and a few other things. The interview reveals a bevy of new information and I encourage you to read the full transcript, but here’s some of the more interesting parts of the interview:
- Compressed air refilling points at places like petrol stations are not going to be a major part of the Australian business model
- Expected running costs are about A$1.70 per 100 km (to put that in perspective, your petrol car would need a consumption rating of 1.13 L / 100 km to have the same running costs)
- Production will begin in Australia in 2009, not 2008 as was previously thought
- The OneCAT will have a 150 km range from a full tank of compressed air, but “an autonomy similar to that of a contemporary small car when run in multi-fuel mode”
- Noise concerns about the prototypes are expected to be resolved with production models, with noise levels expected to be “similar to current passenger cars or less noisy”
The more technically inclined readers might also be interested in Arnoux’s explanation of his “advanced magnetocaloric quantum mechanic effect”. Spoiler: it’s not quite as interesting as it sounds, but on the other hand, at least it’s a bit less crackpot.
It’s a bit of a shame that we won’t be seeing compressed-air vehicles roaming the streets quite as quickly as we’d originally hoped, but with this joint venture, they at least seem to be on their way. IT MDI-Energy is likely to focus on its power generators first, focusing on what is essentially the OneCAT’s engine operating as a generator, before it moves into the transport market. With expectations continuing to rise as more and more claims are made about the CAT system, we can only hope they live up to it. Keep an eye out around the country for demonstrator models, though, as they’re expected to be touring this year.