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Peugeot Car That Runs On Air Will Be Available In 2016, Company Says

01/23/2013 04:55 pm ET

We breathe it. Why not drive it?

Peugeot Citroen this week introduced a car that runs on air. The car manufacturer said the vehicle should be available by 2016.

"We're quite confident," company spokesman Jean-Baptiste Thomas told The Huffington Post on Wednesday.

Thomas said the company already had developed four of its "Hybrid Air" prototypes and driven them 12,000 miles.

The outward design of the car won't change much since the technology can be fitted to current models. But under the body, the advances will be a first, Thomas said. A hydraulic pump forces compressed air against fluid that activates the wheels. (See the video above for a more detailed look.) The pressure can regenerate within 10 seconds if a motorist were to stop.

The Hybrid Air would enable a motorist to drive up to 50 minutes in city conditions without using any gas, Thomas told HuffPost.

In what industry observers hope will be a breath of fresh air for the environment, the air-only mode converts the car into a ZEV, a "zero emission vehicle," the company said in a press release.

MSN noted that by 2020, the company expects its Hybrid Air line to get 117 miles per gallon.

As in gas-electric hybrids, sensors in the air-powered vehicle automatically select the power source best suited to the conditions.

While Peugeot may be the first major auto manufacturer to develop an air-powered vehicle on four wheels, a U.K. company unveiled the three-wheeled, air-fueled AirPod in 2010. Employing compressed-air locomotion, the $10,000 car is able to reach 50 mph and is steered with a joystick.

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