News Stories

Take An Air Taxi

A French company will build 40,000 taxis that run on nothing but air for use in Mexico City, the most polluted city on Earth. Guy Negre, a former designer of engines for Formula 1 cars and lightweight aircraft, has been working on his ?zero pollution? design for almost 10 years. The engine gets its power from 80 gallons of air, compressed to 300 times atmospheric pressure. Negre says tests indicate that it can run for 120 miles in an urban environment, at a speed of 30 mph, and it can reach a top speed of up to 60 mph.

To recharging the car, the driver would stop at an ?air pumping? station, where the tanks would be refilled. The stop would take less than five minutes.

The car runs by releasing the super compressed air into a piston chamber, which drives the piston down. Heated air from outside is then added to the chamber to warm it up, and the mixture is expelled as the piston rises again. The expelled air is passed through carbon filters, meaning that it will come out cleaner than it went in. This car not only runs on air, it actually cleans up the atmosphere.

Negre says the car handles and drives just as well as a gas-powered automobile. He?s licensed the design to a number of companies to build it in different countries. They may be manufactured in Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Switzerland and France.

One problem will be how to provide a big enough network of air filling stations, and how to start the car if the air tanks are nearly empty, when they might not have enough energy.

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Toyota will become world?s first automaker to produce a hydrogen-powered fuel cell car using the futuristic technology. Toyota plans to start selling its environmentally friendly FCHV-4 car in Tokyo by 2003.

Fuel cell cars run on energy produced in a chemical reaction combining hydrogen and oxygen, making them pollution-free. Major automakers have developed fuel cell cars before, but their high price has kept them out of showrooms. Toyota?s version will cost about $75,000, which is still too expensive for the average customer, but which may be acceptable to governments and large corporations that are concerned about air pollution.

The car will be limited to Tokyo at first because hydrogen refueling stations are being set up for it there. The top speed of the FCVH-4, which stands for ?fuel cell hybrid vehicle,? is 90 miles an hour and it has a cruising range of more than 150 miles. The car is modeled after Toyota?s Kluger V SUV, which is marketed in the U.S. as the Highlander.

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