Among the reasons we love the LA Auto Show is the yearly display of outlandish concepts that is the Design Challenge. Compared to a Maybach rickshaw and a robot-knit Benz, Volvo’s entry is a breath of fresh air.
The Air Motion Concept is a sub-1,000 pound four-seater that’s enclosed in a carbon-fiber clamshell. Instead of an internal combustion engine or an electric motor, the Air Motion is powered by a tank full of compressed air. To tackle overall emissions, Volvo envisions wind-powered refueling stations so that power for the car comes entirely out of thin air.
According to Volvo, the design study is based on the philosophy of “minimizing weight and complexity while maximizing driver enjoyment.”
They’re serious about minimizing complexity. Because a pneumatic engine doesn’t heat up like an internal combustion engine would, Volvo says all that plumbing for a radiator isn’t necessary. Of course, they don’t mention a heat exchanger or the limited range possible from a fuel with such a low energy density.
Volvo isn’t offering performance stats, but we imagine that a car that weighs so little would be fun to drive even if you had to wind it up first.
A scale model of the car will be on display during the entire auto show, though the Design Challenge Competition winner is due to be announced tonight at 7PM local time.