A Marketer's Dream: A Car That Runs On Hot Air

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Not even hot air. In this environmentally responsible day and age, unheated air will suffice to propel this car. Toyota Industries Corporation (not Toyota Motor Corporation) showed a car that is powered solely by compressed air.

No CO2 will be emitted, no polar bears will be harmed. Of course, there will be a bit power needed to compress the air – minor distraction. The principle is quite simple: Tanks are filled with compressed air. The compressed air powers a motor. The motor is actually a simple car air conditioner compressor. Toyota Industries is the world’s biggest supplier of the cool gadgets, the company cranks out about 20 million compressors a year.

The rocket-like car called KU:RIN (Japanese for “air wheel”) broke the speed record for compressed air-powered vehicles (yes, that exists) by speeding up to 129.2 km/h (80.3 mph) on the Ibaraki test track. Which will earn it a place in the Guinness World Records Book.

Of course there is a minor drawback: The KU:RIN is the embodiment of range anxiety. Says The Nikkei [sub]:

“In past tests, the vehicle ran as far as 3.2 kilometers without replenishing the air in the cylinders. The company said it will work on extending the travel distance. It said the model is not intended for commercial production but is for the sake of honing its junior researchers’ skills.”

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

More by Bertel Schmitt

Join the conversation
5 of 11 comments
  • The Doctor The Doctor on Sep 23, 2011

    Put Lutz in it and you'd have infinite range vehicle.

  • Syke Syke on Sep 23, 2011

    Sorry, it's not a station wagon with a manual transmission. Which I wouldn't buy new if it was, anyway. Let someone else suffer the depreciation.

  • Indi500fan Indi500fan on Sep 23, 2011

    Back in the 50s, when I was a kid living in town, it seemed like there was a "gas station" about every couple of blocks. This would have been perfect for that situation LOL. Forget about the strenuous bicycle effort to get around.

  • Praxis Praxis on Sep 23, 2011

    A standard SCUBA tank contains about 1.2MJ of potential energy. That is the equivalent of about 1 ounce of gasoline. Even carbon fiber tanks at 4000 psi would only bring that up to a few MJ. Not even suitable for golf carts considering the noise and complexity.