Running on air

A car that runs on air may be traveling American roads by 2011. That’s when Zero Pollution Motors says it plans to roll out 8,000 compressed air-powered vehicles (CAVs) in the country, after introducing them here by 2010. The cars are to be sold at an estimated $20,000.

The car under development doesn’t go very fast—maxing out at 35 mph and traveling about 60 miles on a tank of compressed air. A small motor can supplement the compressed air with diesel, gasoline, salad oil or ethanol for driving on the highway, according to The CAVS are also all-glue constructed, which has raised eyebrows as to how they’ll pass U.S. required crash tests, though its makers say they’re confident they’ll pass.

CAV technology was developed by MDI, a German and French company planning to introduce the cars there in 2009 and have already sold the rights for India’s biggest automaker, Tata, to turn the Nano car—the world’s cheapest at about $2,000—into a compressed air vehicle.