Airpod: The car, not the apple ear-hangers

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever felt so good to the point where you thought that the world was your court and you ruled every game? That’s pretty much what a start up company by the name Zero Pollution Motors had going for them.

They had invented a compressed-air powered car called the AIRPOD, and then apple had to name their wireless pieces of musical earrings Airpods too. Anyhow, let’s clear the confusion, the Airpod car costs $10,000 and is pretty sweet where as the Airpods from apple are $149 or so and perform the same things your earphones can do but without wires, so yeah, if that helps let’s get on to the juicy part about this article.

Pat Boone, a legendary pop music star along with his entrepreneurial friend Ethan Tucker were able to strike gold with their investor friend Robert Herjavec to the point where ABC’s hit series “Shark Tank” had them on and an investment of $5million or a 50% share deal was struck.

To add a couple of cherries and make this deal diabetic (so to speak) the deal involved creating an effective sales network in the United States. Zero pollution motors needed the money to set up an assembly plant in Hawaiiin order to produce the city car that was capable of traveling up to 50 mph with an 80-mile range. An approximate time of 4 minutes to fill up the air tank is all it takes for this car to drive as the cleanest car on the U.S. roads.

But, what could go wrong with this start up that was achieving so much in so little time? A Lot! Well, the story took an abrupt turn when the company posted the following on their Facebook page:

“Robert (Herjavec) backed out of the deal made last year after waiting 9 months. Now we are free to have other investors! Are you in?”

The episode was aired in May 2015 and it seemed to be originally filmed somewhere in the late 2014 or perhaps the early 2015. This is somewhat a classic tale of what tends to happen in advanced vehicle technologies, especially by start up companies that are trying to make it as an automobile manufacturer. The harsh reality is that investors back off if they become concerned about the happenings internally with the management and that doesn’t end too well. Once that’s done, the confidence is lost, and the financials is another horror story better not spoken of. This is the reality and it is definitely an incredibly capital intensive business to make it in and the requirement of skilled and experienced personnel is a must.

A risk that wasn’t worth risking:

The company was heading onto an untapped segment that was to compete with other alternative technologies in order to take out big sharks in the Oil segment and create another source of travel, well that sounds like a perfect startup plan but doesn’t materialize too well.

There is speculation that compressed-air cars are getting plenty of interest in global markets and that the Airpod idea wasn’t completely bad. In fact, Motor Development International (MDI) along with their founder, Guy Negre have been behind the AIRpod from its origination and that MDI has been working with Tata Motors to build the car through Zero Pollution Motors in Hawaii and then ship some of the Airpods back to India.

The Airpod was designed in order to make urban mobility easier and safer. These days consumers that are concerned about overdeveloped cities and air pollution seems to be of hindrance, these vehicles are essential. One of the vital facts that cannot be ignored is that technology inspires enthusiasm and plenty of interest. People have the money and require new and upgraded technology in order to be in touch with the latest development and people are truly fascinated by development even if it comes at a price.

The odds are stacked against the round and futuristic AIRPOD bringing it to roads and compressed air-powered vehicles as passenger vehicles. The technology is pretty intriguing where the tanks with compressed air are heated and the air is sent into cylinders of a piston engine. The fueling will be fast and economical but, the main intent is to cut the emissions and it is assured that the emissions might be clean and eco-friendly. The AIRPOD may drop down to costing to only $3700 to build before it sells for $10,000/-.

 

Bottom Line:

With all that’s said and done, I truly hope to see the Airpod live in action (not for the sake of tree hugging eco-maniacs) just to see new technology and innovation in action. It’s sad to imagine the condition of various automobile startups who had to throw in the towel but I hope that AIRPOD returns with something solid.

 

Air Car’s to hit the roads in 2015 !

Everyone knows the iPod, but do you know about AirPod ?

Growing environmental degradation day by day, has led to the development of green technologies for keeping the mother Earth alive and also making it safer for the generations to come. Automobiles contribute the maximum share of pollution and thus there is a serious need of coming up with clean, safe and efficient technologies. The presence of limited amount of petrol and diesel is making the global automotive industry to think on alternative fuels.

One such concept named ” One CAT Air Car was shown at the New York Motor show in 2008. It was proposed by Motor development International (MDI) , a French Company founded by Guy Negre.  As the name suggests,unlike conventional cars , this vehicle is driven by compressed air. In petrol and diesel engines, on combustion the chemical energy of the fuel is converted into the mechanical energy.Thus, it is the energy from the fuel that drives the piston of the engine. However,  in Air Car the energy of the compressed air is used to drive the engine.

CONCEPT OF AIR CAR:

MDI AirPod AIR CAR
MDI AirPod at Geneva Motor Show, 2009 (Source: wikipedia.org)

Air Car has a compressed air engine which works on the basic principle of using the energy available from compressed air. The compressed air is stored in high pressure tanks or cylinders installed on the vehicle. The cylinders are filled by plugging the compressor for generating high pressure air. The high pressure air drives the piston which result in the rotation of crankshaft and further the power is transferred to the wheels..

The filling of air is similar to the charging of the electric batteries in electric vehicles. This takes time of around two hours for complete filling and can be avoided by installing the compressor in the vehicle itself with a penalty of its weight.The MDI Air Car fills about 90 kg of high pressure air and can give speeds upto 56 kmph . For attaining higher speeds upto 80 kmph, a motor will start the compressor for producing more high pressure air. Pre-heating of the air using for engine drive, increases energy density of air and produces more power.In order to accelerate, a valve is positioned in the cylinder and during accelerator press, the valve allows more amount of air to go into the cylinder for producing more power.

MDI AirPod Engine Bay
MDI AirPod Engine (Source: howstuffworks.com)

On comparison , the amount of energy available in one kg of air and one kg of conventional fuel like petrol or diesel, the air has very less energy. Keeping this in mind , the weight of the vehicle plays an important role . Thus, MDI initially came up with a single seater concept suitable for urban driving. MDI has many range of products to be run by Compressed air, some of which includes the Ai rMulti-Bus (Urban Transport), AirVan (Transport Utilities),Air Transcontainer and AirBom (Waste Collection).

Pros:

The major advantage of Air Car is that the vehicle produces no pollution. The only source of pollution can be during usage of compressor for producing high pressure air and that could also be removed by using in-built solar panels for providing electricity to the compressor. The cost of air is very less when compared to the prices of petrol and diesel which are increasing day by day. Air being an abundant source such vehicles can be significantly effective. The vehicles are every light with aluminum chassis and keeping the weight to be around 900 kg. The small vehicles being compact can easily maneuver and will cause less traffic in the city. The vehicle can be easy parked in very small spaces.

Cons:

The disadvantage of Air Car is that it might not be used for long drives. It is due to the less availability of compressed air pumps and thus would be beneficial to go for urban drives only for initial stages. The prototype has shown to be driven for 120 miles in one complete filling of cylinders. If the vehicle proves out to be more efficient and fruitful, there are strong possibilities for increasing high pressure compressed air pumps.

MDI AirPod at Parking
MDI AirPod in Parking (Source: www.mdi.lu)

In their latest release , MDI( has come up with a prototype of AirPod and is optimized for parking in the city. The doors on the flanks are removed and can be easily parked perpendicularly to the pavement. They have also introduced joy stick for driving in the AirPod and the vehicle is extremely light.

BOTTOM LINE:

In India, TATA Motors will likely go for the production of Air Car. The compressed engines designed and developed by MDI will be integrated in to the TATA Motors vehicles. TATA Motors Air Car is yet to be produced. Major automobile makers are keeping their eye on compressed air vehicle. The market can be understood only after the customer response for the first models of Air Car. Zero Pollution Motors will be producing the AirPod vehicle of MDI and will be on sale by 2nd half of 2015.