Those of you who are around 25-30 years old and grew up in Britain may remember a kids TV show called Aquila. It was about two boys who found a small, pod-like alien craft that ran on air. Well, this type of vehicle, or at least power source, is finally here!
Created by a French man, Guy Negre, the Airpod is just one of the vehicles he, his son, Cyril, and their company, MDI, have designed and developed at their small factory in Nice, France. The idea of an engine that runs on air might seem far-fetched and too good to be true, but the idea isn’t new - it’s been around since the late 19th century. And what better fuel is there? It’s all around us in abundance and it’s free!
You can fill the Airpod at a fueling station in about three minutes and travel around 125 miles on one tank. On the bigger vehicles, you have the option of having a duel fuel engine, which can run for nearly 600 miles! If you choose to refill your vehicle at home with the air compressor that comes with the car, it will take three to four hours. The running cost is about 50 cents for every 60 miles, and if you use renewable energy, it’s totally free. The only emissions the air-powered vehicles produces are from the creation of electricity used to fill it up. The Airpod’s top speed is about 50mph, and the larger vehicles will get to around 70mph. Not fast, but they are city cars, and how often do you go above 50mph in the city?
All the vehicles are made from carbon fiber and aluminum to make them as light as possible for a longer range on a small tank of fuel. The engine is much more durable and robust than conventional car engines as it is a much simpler technology. On the bigger vehicles, the driver is positioned in the middle, allowing more room for passengers and the trunk. This also makes it easier to sell in countries where the driver is usually positioned on the right, since they don’t have to worry about shifting the driver’s seat.
In 2007, MDI signed a contract with TATA, India’s largest car manufacture, giving them a license to build and develop the Airpod and other vehicles. Mexico and Brazil are also looking to take on the concept. Hopefully the air-powered car will be available for the masses very soon all over the world. At the moment you can get in contact with MDI, and they will build you one of their vehicles on request. The prices range from $7,000 for smaller vehicles, to $25,000 for the larger city car or van.
MDI have also developed other vehicles and engines other than the Airpod and city cars, such as: tow tractors and forklifts, agricultural tractors, boat and light aircraft engines and production, and backup generators.
Guy Negre also has a new concept for production. Rather than having one or two massive factories and transporting the vehicles half way across the world, Negre wants to have “small factories located within the market, which is an original concept. It is very important for the economy, social issues, pollution issues and the environment.”
Every new idea takes time before it is accepted by the world, especially new technological ideas, because everyone follows the course already laid out. No one took MDI seriously when they first came up with the Airpod. Fourteen years later, many of those same people have changed their minds, and Guy and Cyril’s creation is upsetting some of the big companies. “They don’t like someone trying to change the course, but today there is a world wide need to change the course,” says Negre.
For any further information on MDI and their products check out their website:
Image by Morgy, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.Tweet