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August 2008 Posts
Tata Motors Limited is India’s largest automobile company, with revenues of Rs. 35651.48 crores (USD 8.8 billion) in 2007-08. It is the leader in commercial vehicles in each segment, and among the top three in passenger vehicles with winning products in the compact, midsize car and utility vehicle segments. Out of seemingly nowhere, this company has been rocking the EV world and is just warming up. Join us as we take a close look at this exciting company and the air car technology.
Interview: Shiva Vencat, MDI Vice President and CEO of Zero Pollution Motors, has a career in the raw material and mining industry has spanned 25 years. He has been involved in a wide range of metals and minerals ranging from aluminum to zinc. However, his experience has been primarily focused on high technology materials such as germanium and includes his participation in the U.S. government panel to determine the germanium specs for its Strategic Stockpile. He has been involved in the marketing of the world’s largest producer of cobalt to Eastern Europe and China. He joined the MDI team as an investor and a promoter of the technology in the mid 90’s.
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Bo, I am very skeptical of this technology, but this was a great interview.
It is funny how many companies are in this position of having great claims and no way to prove them. Of course, MDI is in better shape than many of these companies. At least they have a prototype that you can see, and hear. Unfortunately, there is still a long way from this stage to some third party verification.
If we take Mr. Vencat's claim at face value.
ICE car 30% efficient (perhaps up to 50% with diesel)Air car 50% efficientEV 70% efficient (he says batteries can lose up to 30%)
I have heard higher numbers for EVs (like 90% efficient) but even using his numbers, it seems like EVs are more efficient.
We need to get the Automotive X-Prize people to tease out the real efficiency of these vehicles.
ThanksJohn C. Briggs
quote comment add new comment
I guess we can talk tomorrow about FOSH's big non-event.
I think here is the trade-off with an Air car vs an EV car- no weight and COST of the batteries! So, even though it may not be as efficient, it may be cheaper to run. What I really think is their future, however, is an all-air NEV (NAV?) or Medium Speed NAV- then you can produce a car with virtually no maintenance, no battery replacement, and for about 5-10,000 dollars less than a comparable NEV (guestimating the battery cost). So- what their future depends on is NO battery advancement;-)
The Air Car literature is a strange combination of apparently real products (air powered locomotives from the 1900's) and wingnuts developing "perpetual motion" machines. The history of the Air Cars contains several references to engines that use the compressed air to run the engine and then after it runs the engine, the air gets recompressed. Thus it is a perpetual motion machine.
The air compressor which worked when the engine was running, would ensure that the cylinder was filled to capacity at all times. Thus Hill’s engine would realize the principle of perpetual motion.
It also has a lengthy discussion of how underground caverns can be used to store compressed air that can later be released to create electricity. This technology does seem to be real, however its relivance to the Air Car is not clear. I guess this is to prove that people do store energy in compressed air.
After reading some of this information, I am really worried about these guys. Anyone that is not smart enough to remove claims of perpetual motion from their website shouldn't be running a company. Perpetual motion does not exist and anyone with any training in engineering or science should know this. They guys apparently don't know this.
Also, there seems to be too much information about investing in the company and not enough information on the products. It reminds me of the WIRED expose on ZAP.
I think this is a good video of the Air Car and something similar in Australia.
One thing confuses me is that Mr Vencat talked about using a gasoline engine to compress the air but the video seems to be about pure air power.
One outrageous claim is that a hybrid version of the Air Car would allow it to drive 4000Km on one tank of gasoline and a tank of air.
I think the add-on gas engine, or 'range extender,' is a more recent developement- I think for years Guy Negre's (the MDA founder in France) focus was on an Air Engine, and so almost all of the early prototypes were pure AV's (as opposed to EV's;-) In fact, I think Mr. Vencat mentions something like this during the interview.
The discussion seemed to seamlessly blend current technology with possible future technology. This is very unsettling and not something you would get from, say, GM. GM makes it clear when the are talking about the current "plan of record" for a vehicle versus future ideas. MDI people talk in a disturbing "free flowing" way about the technology. This is very unsettling.
And now for something completely different...
John - glad to see you enjoyed "Charging Ahead", I brought my copy to the office for Bo to read, with the recommendation that he interview James Worden - cross your fingers! Apologies for following up a day late about the current read - it's "The End of Detroit, How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market" by Micheline Maynard -
How about you?
Jason, Thanks for the information. I am reading
Electric and hybrid cars : a history / Curtis D. Anderson and Judy Anderson.
John C. Brggs
It is very very important to understand that the people running the aircar.com site are not MDI. You are correct to be skeptical of them and some of their claims, but you must remember to make the distinction between them and MDI.
Thanks for the clarification between MDI and Aircars.
I notice a previous commenter posted a link to aircar.com, but I think your readers should be aware of the fact that the operators of this site are not affiliated with Mr. Vencat or ZPM/MDI.
I agree, this website is very sketchy, that's why everyone should know to ignore them!
The Tata air car has very limited use. Basic physics--it's just not efficient. Air bicycles could be fun, however. At least 10 years ago a town in Iowa (or that part of the country) used plastic half gallon soda bottles as the pressure vessel for an air motor to assist a bicycle.
So where are the MDI air cars. Every year there is an announcement that they go on sale "next year". Always "next year". Has been like that since the initial announcement in 2000 that their full sized van would go on sale in 2001.
Now that they have downsized to something about the same weight as a golf cart, perhaps they can get enough range to work in the inner city.
It was a great interview. The concept of the air car technology is really something new to me. It is amazing how they can modify car parts to fit into electric power. Really a great innovation by car manufacturers.
It looks like there are serious limitations to the Air Car. They are using 80 gallons (300 liters) of storage space to store about 16 KWH of energy. This compares with 16 KWH of electricity in a Li-Ion battery that takes up about 14 gallons (53 liters) of space. Finally, the equivalent energy in gasoline would be only 0.44 gallons (1.65 liters)
Compressed Air 80 gallons Li-Ion battery 14 gallons Gasoline 0.44 gallons
Sadly, the advantages of Gasoline are very clear.
In addition to the large volume required to store the air, the conversion efficiency is probably terrible both when the air is compressed and later when it is released. The range seems to be between 5 and 20 miles. So this is not very good.
This is unfortunate, because it seems like a good idea. I guess EV’s are still the future despite their problems. The Chevy Volt will go 40 miles on its 16 KWH battery pack (GM only allows the pack to be half discharged so only 8KWH will be used).
Hmmm, The Zero Pollution website is no longer active.
I guess we will not be getting air-powered cars anytime soon.
Also, at the time of this writing this other website about air cars is not responding.
May have been a bit premature in my comments. Looks like KLM (the airline) has taken delivery of a a couple of Airpods. 2 minute video.
I still wonder how good the range is.
I would like to agree about John Brigg's percentage of efficiency. Other automotive innovator Companies are very talkative that it makes them look like bragging things that the don't have. Good thing there are still honest companies left like tata motors. EV is one of the most newly-invented cars in our generation and those EV cars are still improving. Tata has been determined to improve this EV and by time, this 70% - 90% would boom to 100%. I've researched some automotive blog about Electronic Vehicles and they offer EVs in a very low price. I know that there are still other websites that may offer lower prices. If you want to compare prices, I've provided a link in this post to locate that website easily.