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Tata commercializing an air-powered car

Tata successfully demonstrated compressed air engines in its vehicles, and will work with MDI to bring this technology to market.

Liane Yvkoff
Liane Yvkoff is a freelance writer who blogs about cars for CNET Car Tech. E-mail Liane.
Liane Yvkoff

An air-powered car may not be a pipe dream after all. Tata Motors announced last week that it is beginning phase two of development to bring this technology to market.

Lightweight cars powered only by air have made the rounds on the auto show circuit for the past two years. But since 2007, the Indian automotive manufacturer has been working with Motor Development International, which is pioneering this technology, to make this highly conceptual propulsion system a reality.

Tata has successfully demonstrated the compressed air engine concept in two of its vehicles, and will enter phase two of the partnership agreement. The next step for the car maker, which owns Land Rover and Jaguar and is famous for making the world's cheapest car, is to work with MDI to fine-tune the technology and processes needed to commercialize an air-powered car.

The MDI OneFlowAir concept.
The MDI OneFlowAir concept. MDI

MDI has developed a handful of air-powered concepts, including the cutesy four-seater AirPod. It also makes slightly more conventional looking vehicles, such as the center-driven MiniCat and MiniFlowAir. The MiniFlowAir offers a 60-mile range when powered by air, or up to 550 miles when configured with a hybrid power train. MDI estimates that the MiniFlowAir could retail for 3,500 to 5,000 euros ($4,523 to $6,361).

The MDI MiniFlowAir concept.
The MDI MiniFlowAir concept. MDI

See more pictures of the MiniCat by CNET Asia.