Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Volvo's ultra-light Air Motion Concept

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December 2, 2010

Air time – Volvo Air Motion concept runs on compressed air

Air time – Volvo Air Motion concept runs on compressed air

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We've been taking a closer look at some of the standout blue-sky concepts presented by the likes of Mercedes and Cadillac at the recent LA Design Challenge – here's Volvo's take on the lightweight car of the future. The clamshell-inspired Volvo Air Motion Concept Canyon Carver uses fewer and lighter components than in traditional cars and compressed air engines to achieve a weight estimated at under 1000 lbs (454 kg).

Much of the weight saving would come from using compressed air motors rather than a heavy internal combustion engine along with a carbon fiber body. The chassis, interior and suspension design have also been simplified to further keep the vehicle light.

Volvo designers say that the need for cooling systems is removed because these air motors would cool down under load rather than heating up.

The intriguing refueling concept is also blue-sky – literally. "Air Replenishment Sites" powered by floating air turbines floating would be used to turn wind power into electricity to provide the compression.

Volvo's vision: “Imagine a vehicle lighter than a Formula 1 racing car, experiencing the adrenaline rush of carving through the canyons with up to three friends not using a drop of gasoline.”

The company unveiled a quarter scale model of the Air Motion Concept at last month's LA Auto Show.

LA Design Challenge

6 Comments

Air-cars need a BIG air-tank compressed to very high pressure to achieve any sort of useful range, so that is an enormous hurdle with this concept, MDI in france has been unable to take-off because of this problem.

I really like the wheels in this concept though, makes for a super-simple drive train, but what about shock absorption? Pneumatic tyres prevail because they give the best ride, I don't see much thought given to ride quality in this concept, no visible suspension combined with the solid wheels means 'carving through the canyons' will not be comfortable.

PeetEngineer
3rd December, 2010 @ 11:10 am PST

Perhaps air motor technology could be used on ATV's since they ususally weigh under 1000 pounds. Floating air turbines must first be tested and proven. I think air motors for city cars might be a practical use but I would not like to be traveling too far from a compressor station.

Adrian Akau
3rd December, 2010 @ 03:46 pm PST

Nice... But I'd like to see a lot less pie in the sky page filler material, and a lot more real people using real products...

Mr Stiffy
5th December, 2010 @ 06:45 pm PST

For once, having read about the latest! TV shelf, and commented thereupon, I find myself wholly in agreement with Mr. Stiffy. I love Gizmag, but just one interesting and novel item is worth a thousand page-fillers.

Ian Colley.

Terotech
8th December, 2010 @ 03:51 am PST

The objection above about air cars needing a "big" air pressure tank amused me. The compression of the air reduces the size of the tank needed, and also, the use of carbon fiber composites reduces the size of the tank needed (because the strong lightweight tank makes the use of compressed air superefficient as compared with the idea of using heavy steel tanks which add weight to the system thus requiring larger volume of the tank to cover its own weight acceleration requirements). In addition, the carbon fiber pressure tank does not need to be in one unit; there may be several tanks, each of them charged to 10,000 psi, and these can be molded into the body panels of the car. The carbon fiber technology is so disruptive that trained engineers all over the world seem to be having trouble using common sense in evaluating its revolutionary applications, especially in conjunction with the new improved rotary Wankel air motors being manufactured by Angelo Di Pietro and EngineAir Australia. (The trend is toward VTOL vertical takeoff and landing, which will obsolete roads, bridges, tunnels, trains, ships, etc., along with standard surface cars and trucks.)

Jay Dillon
26th September, 2011 @ 09:11 pm PDT

D'abord je préfère le Frantz-Deutsch; surtout le Frantz, l'ancien observateur...

Frantz a observé bien des choses quant aux moteurs à air comprimé de M. Nègre...Il ya 13 ans déjà, il est allé voir, en compagnie de son vice-secrétaire Thomas H. les usines à Brignoles...

Ensuite M.Nègre a installé ses unités près de Nice et maintenant..?

Bref, le seul problème rencontré à l'époque concernait les critères d'épreuve des réservoirs. Avec l'évolution technologique des nanostructures , les ingénieurs des mines freinateurs--voire saboteurs de savoirs français-- devraient se précipiter vers ce lien: cnrsformation.cnrs.fr ...cfe.contact@cnrs.fr -- 01 69 82 44 55...Ils gagneront du temps comme en allemagne et éviteront la soi-disant formation d'excellence, le "Double diplôme" ( lire www.lesechos.fr du Lundi 28 janvier 2013, destiné aux élèves motivés... OK mais encore faut-il leur donner des indications d'orientation pour leur (aux entreprises..!) garantir une ouverture d'esprit...Le haut du panier..? qu'on se le dise chez les chasseurs de têtes mis en cause..."Mais on a aussi le droit d'être normal!"...poincaré (ça nous changera des ronds-points stupides...)... pas vrai Einstein...Ein Rollingstone.

Peter Dietze
29th January, 2013 @ 09:46 am PST
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