Will Tata Motors Soon Bring 'Air Car' to Market?

There has been a flurry of chatter this past week about the AIRPod, a tiny urban car being tested by India’s largest automobile company Tata Motors that runs on compressed air. 

If you’ve ever been around a scuba diving operation, you know compressed air is a pretty powerful thing. Just crack open the valve on the top of a tank if you don’t believe me. But is it really powerful enough for a passenger vehicle?

The two companies behind AIRPod, Tata and Motor Development International (MDI) from Luxembourg, think so. From a layperson’s perspective, the engine works by injecting compressed air into the combustion chamber where it heats and expands, pushing the piston down.  

The AIRPod is actually a series of cars being tested by Tata and MDI for a variety of urban use scenarios, such as passenger transportation or package delivery. It has just three wheels, two doors and is controlled by a joystick, not a steering wheel.


The vehicle has been under development for several years, but the buzz is that the commercial version should be available in the "near future" for about $10,000, reports design magazine Core77. Other reports point to August 2012 as the release date, but there has been no official update from Tata Motors.

The standard model of the AIRPod weighs about 485 pounds, and it has four passenger seats that accommodate three adults and one children. MDI also is working on a cargo edition outfitted for making deliveries and a "baby" edition with just two front passenger seats.

MDI’s and Tata’s tests so far show that the vehicle’s 175-liter storage tank will propel it to top speeds of about 43 miles per hour for distances of up to 125 miles, reports Core77.

The companies are also pitching the rapid "charging" time: it takes just under two minutes to fill an air tank. The current average price for a compressed air fill is about $1.24, says MDI.

MDI was founded by mechanical engineer Guy Negre, who invented the compressed air technology that is used in several AIRPod predessor vehicles. The company has been working on cars that use compressed air since 1996.

Tata Motors signed an exclusive license for the AIRPod line in India back in 2007. The giant Indian automotive company sells its vehicles in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and South America. Aside from its status as the top seller of commercial vehicles in India, Tata Motors is the world’s fourth largest truck and bus manufacturer.

Aside from the compressed air technology, Tata Motoros is also manufacturing electric vehicles for Europe.

For more about the AIRPod:

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Comments on “Will Tata Motors Soon Bring 'Air Car' to Market?”

  1. Joe

    How cool. I saw a video of a compressed air car many years ago. I asked the people at the booth about the seemingly loud noise coming from the car and they said they needed to “tune” the exhaust or something like that. At least it isn’t Choke Brothers Exhaust. And if I’m reading it right, the mpgs look great.

  2. Ian

    I’m amazed people fall for this scam. Hey, I have a car that runs on water and gets 100 miles per liter. It should be available sometime next year.

  3. Adriaenssen

    Wrong! Airpod is an exclusive MDI development.
    Tata will use MDI’s compressed air technology, which is NO SCAM, to re-power its Nano and Ace models.

  4. Adriaenssen

    @ Ian: If you allow yourself to insult people as being scammers, please provide evicence!
    Beside, wise guy, you’re wrong; the MDI story is not a scam.
    And yes, you’re totally ignorent, because next year, that’s 2014, a car will run on water, it already does!
    Before being a bully, get wiser!

  5. Richard E. Aho

    Soon Air cars will all switch to MIST technology,
    “Generation of Steam by Impact Heating” this technology has been proved, and is closed loop.
    They can drive continuously. After pre=heating, MIST turns off the heaters, then all the energy comes from IMPACT HEATING. Using a mechanical hydraulic system, input 1 KW net output 8.7 KW

  6. tidycat

    A car that runs on water will not work in winter unless it also runs on ICE cubes AHH the car that runs on air can and has ran in winter.

  7. chand

    Tata is a big name but my experience with their cars etc etc are all sub standard. The need to evolve to a A class delivery company as good will along won’t do the job. no prejudice meant.

  8. dhawk

    What is the 2014 prospect for this car? Is there consideration for release in America? Is it approved for use as a regular street vehicle IN America? My concern is, once it gets into some of the bigger countries politicians who are under the thumb of oil companies will make it impossible to own and drive one.

  9. El Toro

    Tata sub standard. ????? You better tell Jaguar and Land Rover owners that, after all Tata Corporation own them. (Their project chief engineer is ex Jaguar). As for credibility I doubt Tata (who have already spend tens of million euros on the joint venture project with MDI since signing up in 2007) could afford to waste that sort of dosh on a scam. Neither would Violia Corporation who have also signed recently. This technology is also applicable to power generation as in point of use industrial and domestic. Don`t believe me. ???? Fine but its about to go viral sooner than later so watch this space.

  10. Scambuster

    This is such a SCAM ..that is even hilarious.. So TaTa – a world class manufacterer has paid 30 millions to those scammers for a echnnology that everybody knos that it doesnt work???

    Who has been the ‘expert’ negociator in tata that had the really brilliant idea of paying 30M for a grotesquely designed air engine?

    Hope they have good lawyers , 30m is a lot of money to pay for “promises”


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