I’ve been hearing about this car from time to time even since five years ago, when I started blogging about green technologies. Back then it was named MDI CAT and it was developed in France. However, MDI (Motor Development International) still has the patent to the air motor.
Of course, don’t expect too much quality of finishing in the Mini CAT: the lack of a radio and even the firm seats Tata plans to use in it reflect in the price of only $8,200. For those seeking power steering or airbags (can’t bet on that) I think you should think twice.
I would nevertheless buy this car! Imagine, it will be able to take you for about 185 miles only on compressed air, and it’ll take only a few minutes to refill (for only a couple of bucks), unlike electric cars which currently need hours to charge, and unlike gasoline or diesel cars, this one will emit no CO2 or other gases than air at the temperature of 0 to -15 degrees Celsius, because of its expansion.
But there’s a but… the air tanks are not welded, but glued! I think that would set off even the most unpretentious potential buyers, and I don’t know what were they thinking when they designed the thing!? Maybe it’s some sort of a new Indian glue made from elephant tails, or tiger nails, who knows…?
After googling on this a bit more, it seems that Tata also said that they were to launch the Mini CAT last year, so don’t take my word for it until it’s news.
Update: Tata Motors issued a press release today:
May 7, 2012, Mumbai: In January 2007, Tata Motors and Motor Development International (Luxembourg) signed a licence agreement that enables Tata Motors to produce and sell compressed air cars using MDI technology in India. The agreement covered two phases of activity encompassing the technology transfer and proof of the technical concept in the first phase, and in the second phase completing detailed development of the compressed air engine into specific vehicle and stationary applications.
The first phase of this programme — proof of the technical concept in Tata Motors vehicles — has now been successfully completed with the compressed air engine concept having been demonstrated in two Tata Motors vehicles.
In the second phase of the development, the two companies are working together to complete detailed development of the technology and required technical processes to industrialise a market ready product application over the coming years.