Air Power: Tata Still Active On OneCat ‘Air Car’

Tata’s long standing project to produce vehicles powered by compressed air is still alive. A recent official statement has revealed that the company has successfully tested two cars that run on compressed air, and claimed that project has completed its first phase. Along with Luxembourg-based brand Motor Development International (MDI),
Tata Motors have entered the second phase of developing an air-powered
car. MDI, a renowned French company specialized in designing compressed air car prototypes marketed under the title “the Air car”, entered into
a pact with the Indian conglomerate in 2007. The car was named OneCat. But since then most of the information about the project or its status died out.

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So how does this works?? The technology has been around for more than a century. In a compressed
air vehicle, the air is stored in a tank. Instead of burning fuel, the
car uses the energy released during expansion of compressed air to
propel the engine. This means there is no combustion, thus no emission. One can put his nose at the exhaust and breathe fresh air easily! Compressed-air engines have been used to operate
mining locomotives and trams in Paris as early as the 19th century. 
MDI’s thrust has been on zero-pollution machines, and the company has
developed several models and engines along those lines.

MDI is now seriously working on  the OneCat models – a taxi concept, a van and a pickup. The compressed air engine weighs just 35 kilos, a fifth of a conventional fuel engine. The overall curb weight is also as low as around 700 kilos, featuring light weight  body structure to improve the car’s efficiency. The air tanks can be filled in four hours by plugging the car into a standard electrical plug. But a gas station compressor is in development, which would fill the tanks in just three minutes.The air engine developer Guy Nègre and his team is also working on a twin energy car that runs both on compressed air technology and the conventional petrol engine for an extended travel range. Air engine is enough for city driving and the car can stretch its legs in highways by the petrol power.

Tata Motors has also shown a lot of interest in the recent times to produce
environmental friendly cars and unveiled several hybrid and EV concepts. With the compressed air vehicles, Tata can realise its dreams to a greater extent.

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Dhiyanesh is equally crazy about driving cars and writing about them. This guy loves everything with a steering wheel, so, at someday if self-driving cars take up all driving, he is sure to go nuts! He likes sedans of 90s era, esp W140 S-Class and R34 Skyline GT. Apart from usual motoring stuffs, he maintains a strong appetite for sociological perspectives on cars, their historical and cultural footprints. He owns a 1999 Fiat Siena passionately, and drives a Ford Fiesta.