Mike Stevens | May 27, 2009

ENVIRONMENTALLY-CONSCIOUS CAR company, Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) is hoping that, come 2011, it will have introduced a new breed of car, powered by a combination of compressed air and a small conventional engine.

ZPM claims the car will be priced between $23,000 and $28,000, and will be partly powered by a conventional engine, that, together with the air component, will be good for 55kW, and expected to be capable of achieving a remarkably frugal 2.2 l/100km.

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At speeds less than 56km/h, the car relies entirely on the air tank and emits only cold air. At faster speeds, the small conventionally-fuelled engine kicks in to run a heater that warms the air and speeds its release.

When no option exists to plug the car into a wall outlet, the engine also refills the air tank on the go, extending the range and speed.

ZPM Chief Executive Shiva Vencat said, “The air car works by plugging into a wall outlet, allowing an on-board compressor to pressurize the car’s air tank to 4,500 pounds per square inch."

"It takes about four hours to get the tank to full pressure, and then the air is then released gradually to power the car’s pistons”.

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However, engineering experts are sceptical of the technology, saying it is clouded by the caveat that compressing air is notoriously energy intensive.

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Vencat said that he often gets such criticism. He counters that the car is cleaner than any internal combustion engine and remarkably simpler, cheaper and more advanced than power-trains currently under development.

Vencatt compares the air-powered car to the Chevrolet Volt, which will be released as in the US in 2011.

“The big difference is that the Volt needs a massive lithium-ion battery, and it’s a big part of the reason why it is expected to cost about US$40,000 when it goes on sale late next year”.

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A new ZPM air-powered car was unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March, with the concept being originally developed by the French race car engineer, Guy Negre.

Airlines KLM and Air France are testing the bubble-shaped ZPM AirPods this month for use as transportation around airports.

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