I’m very excited about the MiniCat, and its relatives, the new, air-powered vehicles that we will hopefully see on our roads very soon. Brainchild of former Formula One engineer, Guy Negre, and his son Cyril, the car has been over a decade in development and uses revolutionary engine technology. Of course, anyone who has worked in a commercial garage knows that compressed air powered tools have been around for a long time, and work analogously to the electrical counterparts that domestic users will be familiar with. In principal, to run a car engine only requires something that can push the pistons, and compressed air should work. The problems are similar to those for hydrogen powered cars – how to carry enough of the stuff.

The engine technology has been developed by the family run company, Moteur Development International (MDI), and features an articulated con-rod which allows expansion at constant volume, effectively allowing the same engine efficiency to be achieved with a lower compression ratio. There is also a moto-alternator, which both starts up the compressed air engine, and refills the air storage tanks. These two innovations are not only applicable to compressed air engines, but could also be applied to conventional internal combustion engines to enhance performance.

A major difficulty over the years has been in finding an automotive manufacturer willing to develop the technology, but that is what has recently changed. The Indian car company, Tata has agreed to take the development forward, and we may be able to see these cars in India and the USA by the end of 2008.


If this is successful, we could see a genuine revolution in car technology. With the cheapest model expected to sell at about 3,500 Euros, the MiniCat should be able to refill from a high pressure air line (as exist in garage forecourts already) in around 2 minutes. The top speed is expected to be about 110 kilometers per hour, and with a refill costing only around 1.5 Euros, and lasting for 200 kilometers, this cheap and completely non-polluting little car will appeal to the vast majority of city motorists.


MiniCat also has an appealing, fresh design, with the driver positioned centrally, and passenger seats either side. Future plans have been made for other models, specifically for use as taxis, people carriers and even a flatbed truck model. Since the vast majority of car trips are short distance and urban, this is a car that is affordable, green and economical. I can’t wait to see it.





  1. 1 Mike Hanes March 3, 2008 at 4:15 am

    I am extremely excited about this. What do I have to do to get an air car now?
    Mike H

  2. 2 RoughRaf June 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Air compression will definitely use high-power electrical engines. If technology goes global (like fossil fuels) the demand for electricity will be huge so it certainly will increase price of electricity, not to mention CO2 emissions in countries where they have Coal Power Plants.
    IMHO, the technology is not as exciting and promising as it seems.

    Rafal M

  3. 3 Des Emery June 23, 2008 at 2:02 am

    I would hope that as much, if not more, research is being done on nanobatteries to enable a recharge of only minutes instead of hours. Unless convenience for the user is provided by the manufacturer in all aspects, the vehicle will not displace the internal combustion model.

  4. 4 diane July 30, 2008 at 7:28 am

    What do i have to do to get one? how much will it cost?

  1. 1 Törnebohms Hotspot » Blog Archive » Bilen som går på luft Trackback on October 14, 2008 at 6:24 pm

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