Wednesday, February 13, 2008

India's Tata backs air-power car

It sounds like something out of a science fiction story, or a scam ad from the back of a magazine, but India's Tata motors has debuted a five-passenger car that runs on air. Specifically, the car, called the OneCAT, runs on compressed air, which is stored in tanks and used to drive the motor. The air tanks can be charged up at a station or with an on-board compressor. For long trips a small fuel-burning engine supplements the air-driven engine.

When running on compressed air, the OneCAT will emit no greenhouse gases. This will help to make up for the pollution caused by one of Tata's other products, the Nano. You may remember the Nano from a few weeks back when it was introduced as "the world's cheapest car," retailing at under $2,500. It can be sold so cheaply because it cuts back on features found on more expensive cars, like systems to reduce exhaust emissions. Tata is expecting to put the Nano into the hands of thousands of drivers in India's growing middle class, something that is sure to make India's poor air quality even worse.
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