Although battery-powered cars may no longer be considered quirky and weird, automobiles propelled by compressed air are still perhaps thoughts of as a little ... fringy. The MDI Air Car looked promising, although development of the vehicle seems to have been at least temporarily suspended. Toyota Industries Corporation, however, recently brought some attention to the technology. On September 9th, its one-off KU:RIN set a new speed record for compressed air cars, at 129.2 km/h (80.3 mph).
The KU:RIN was designed and built by the Toyota group company before setting the record at the Japan Automobile Research Institute (JARI) test facility in Shirosato, Japan.
Toyota Industries Corporation is reportedly the world's largest supplier of automotive air conditioner compressors, and the designers used that technology in their little dragster - they essentially reversed one of their compressors, so instead of using mechanical energy to compress air, it generated mechanical energy through the expansion of compressed air.
While it may have gone fast, however, KU:RIN's range is only 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) - definitely not a car that we'll likely be seeing in showrooms any time soon. It may, however, be showing up in the Guinness Book of Records, as its recent feat has been submitted for inclusion.
"Ku" and "rin," incidentally, are Japanese for "air" and "wheel."
Source: Toyota Industries Corporation (Japanese)