Despite the billions poured into so-called hybrid cars, the electric/gasoline technology remains expensive, inefficient, awkward to use, and unpopular. The French company Citroen Peugeot has unveiled a hybrid car employing compressed air technology in conjunction with the internal combustion engine. The air is compressed with brake use and other means and is used to power the engine.

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Supposedly the new technology will save 45% on gasoline costs in highway driving and 80% in city driving. The first air-hybrid models will be priced about $1500.00 USD below comparable battery/gasoline hybrids.

The car was developed by a team of 100 Peugeot engineers who came up with the design in two years. There were no government subsidies, tax breaks, lengthy and expensive studies, or monetary grants involved.

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An air-hybrid system can be installed in parallel with existing gasoline models.

It is too soon to know whether the air-hybrid technology will develop into a significant technology for automobiles. We’ve seen many technologies in many areas from various medicines, to cold fusion, to solar and wind power, that have been splashed over the media, only to prove too expensive, unworkable, or inefficient to become major factors. They usually sink into obscurity or disappear completely. It’s too early to know whether or not this is another false start.

The point is, this technology was developed by private enterprise, not government. It wasn’t a huge expensive program involving billions of taxpayer dollars, thousands of bureaucrats, and years of time. Basically it was developed in the Citroen Peugeot garage by a handful of hardworking and intelligent geniuses.

 

UPDATE FROM REUTERS. 2/6/13

The reality is that consumers continue to show little interest in electric vehicles, or EVs, which dominated U.S. streets in the first decade of the 20th century before being displaced by gasoline-powered cars.

Despite the promise of “green” transportation – and despite billions of dollars in investment, most recently by Nissan Motor Co – EVs continue to be plagued by many of the problems that eventually scuttled electrics in the 1910s and more recently in the 1990s. Those include high cost, short driving range and lack of charging stations.

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