One of France's most prestigious auto magazines, L'Auto Journal, has published a very skeptical and critical report about Guy Nègre's MDI compressed air car, whether we call it the AirCar or FlowAir. The article (not available online) makes quite a number of arguments against MDI and the whole idea.
First of all, L'Auto Journal focuses on the technology. Yes, the engine is quite revolutionary in how it uses the power of air but how about storing the compressed air? In order to store the energy equivalent of 1 liter of gasoline, we need 150 liters of air. When compared to a small Hyundai I10, MDI's largest model, the OneFlow Air, doesn't perform that well: At 50 km/h (30 mph), the I10 only needs a single liter of fuel to drive for 34 km (22 miles) - that's 150 out of the available 190 liters in the canisters of the OneFlow Air - yet it weights double. The numbers don't add up and L'Auto Journal claims the OneFlow Air will barely get 100 km of range. And there's more... (after the jump)
[Source: L'Auto Journal]
When it comes to the possibility of making the car bi-fuel, that is, adding a device that heats the air to improve its range, MDIs figures state that using both compressed air and some kind of fuel, we get 2 l/100 km but when we run out of compressed air, the consumption figures climb up to 3.5l/100km, which you could get with the Lupo 3L and which aren't that far from the 3.8 l/100 km (highway) of the Kia Picanto (the I10's sibling) diesel version. Of course, don't forget to add that our real world driving conditions are quite variable and so actual figures are likely to be even worse.
How about the possibilities of recharging the car? Yes, you can use a standard compressor, but it takes 4 hours. Nègre announces 3-stage compressors (like the ones used for scuba diving) that should be available everywhere but can you count on your regular gas station having these compressors? Add in the fact that, at least for France, no government aid has been planned for this car and compare the situation to the growing recharging networks for EVs - which are already on the road.
Last but not least there are homologation issues. Although a model was seen bearing official plates, no word has been said on how a car driven with a joystick, the AirPod, could even be homologated as a NEV - when there isn't even literature on how to homologate a car that isn't driven with a steering wheel.
Conclusion: Although can get excited about MDI and its compressed air models, too many questions remain unanswered for L'Auto Journal. And many others.
[Source: L'Auto Journal #762]