The AIRpod vehicle runs completely on compressed air. Guy Nègre and his son, Cyril, of Motor Development International (MDI) have been licensing their compressed-air automobile to investors around the world for further development, testing, and eventual dispersion to new markets. Following the testing and stage-two prototyping of the AIRpod by TATA motors in India, Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) hopes to bring the AIRpod to the U.S., kicking off in Hawaii.
This month, celebrity Paul Boone and CEO Ethan Tucker of ZPM appeared on the television show Shark Tank to pitch the small, ecofriendly vehicle to the “Sharks.” Boone and Tucker requested $5 million to begin setting up “micro”manufacturing-and-repair plants across Hawaii. In return, they offered a 50% share in the company. Robert Herjavec was the Shark that bit, offering the $5 million, but only if ZPI negotiates with the Nègres for markets across the entire United States.
Achieving 100 miles per refill and reaching speeds of 50 miles per hour, the AIRpod will target local, urban commuters. Though the engine has low efficiency relative to other zero-emission cars, the air tank only takes two minutes to refill at local-station air compressors. If refilled at home with the in-built air compressor, the car refills in four hours and requires an electric source. It costs a mere three dollars to refill. The car, priced at $10,000, is expected to be sold at the numerous local micro stations that also provide repair, maintenance, and refill stations.
However, those in anticipation for an air-powered vehicle should probably not hold their breath. The cars are still experiencing difficulty in cold-weather areas due to the compressed-air system. Furthermore, as Shark Lori Greiner points out, the car has yet to be crash-tested, indicating that the AIRpod still has a ways to go before you see them in the street.
Shark Tank viewers should stay tuned to see the follow-up on the AIRpod. Episode 27 of season 6 left us hanging as to whether ZPM would get the rights from MDI to distribute air-car manufacturing plants around the country. It should also be interesting to see how this renewable-fuel pod does in comparison to other zero-emission cars and eco-conscious hybrids in the future.