More than seven years ago, the Mumbai-based automobile company had signed an agreement with Luxembourg-based Motor Development International to produce and sell cars running on air. In 2012, the company declared it had tested the technology on two of its cars. But no further guidance was given.
While the idea of cars running on compressed air is not new, it was deemed impractical because of the complexities involved, such as low engine temperatures. Tata Motors, however, under its blue-sky project, has been working on engines that will run on compressed air and emit air from exhaust pipes.
|RUNNING ON AIR|
Speaking to an in-house magazine, Timothy Leverton, president and head, advance and product engineering, Tata Motors, said, "This is a long-term project and a tricky and challenging one. But these are areas we need to invest in to make sure that we can innovate and manufacture disruptive products in the future."
The agreement between Tata Motors and MDI covered two phases of activity, encompassing the technology transfer and the proof of the technical concept in the first phase, and completing the development of the compressed air engine into specific vehicle and stationary applications in the second phase.
The debut of the air car (Airpod) is expected in the second half of 2015 in Hawaii through the US franchisee Zero Pollution Motors, headed by entrepreneur Shiva Vencat. For India, however, no deadline has been specified yet.
The car, which will have a joystick instead of a steering wheel, will seat three adults and a baby. Its tanks can be refilled by transferring compressed air from a compressed air station. The maximum speed could be be 80km/hr and a range of 200 km.
Besides environmentally friendly vehicles, Leverton also said Tata Motors was focusing intently on connectivity.
"We want to design a car that will fit into the digital ecosystem of our consumers. The car will also fit into traffic systems."