Thursday, May 24, 2018

Air-powered cars? Not energy efficient enough (Update)

Three years ago, I wrote a post saying that air-powered cards are not energy efficient enough to be used for most transportation uses. Three years later, only one thing has changed: Guy Nègre, the inventor of the air-powered car, died on June 24, 2016 (75 years old) without seeing his invention reach commercial success.

Zero Pollution Motors, a U.S. licensee of the technology, promises that you can buy a car next year (2019). It's always next year; in 2019, I expect that it will be 2020. I hope that anyone who made a deposit on a new car in 2015 has gotten their money back.

There is talk about Tata in India selling an air-powered car in 2020. However, the video I saw showed both three-wheeled and four-wheeled cars, indicating that the design isn't far along yet. (In the United States, a three-wheeled car is considered a motorcycle for regulatory purposes, which have much weaker security requirements than four-wheeled cars do.)

One thing the YouTube videos mention is that the cars are as light as possible. If these light cars were powered by a gasoline engine or an electric battery, they would have good gas mileage or range on a charge. Comparing these light cars to a conventional sedan is preposterous. I am getting 45+ miles per gallon in my 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid and it's a good sized car.

Scam alert: Do not make any investment in a company developing an air-powered car or give them a deposit on a new car. Likely, you will never see a return for your money. Shiva Vencat, CEO of Zero Pollution Motors, LLC has at least two funding sites trying to raise money.

I stand by my claim three years ago: Air-powered cars are not energy efficient enough for everyday use by Americans or Indians. I hope that, now that Mr. Nègre has died, this concept will fade into oblivion.