IT MDI-Energy Pty. Ltd. picks Melbourne, Australia, as the location of its manufacturing base for a car that operates with zero emissions and can run solely on compressed air.

MDI Managing Director Guy Negre, a former engine designer for Renault SA’s Formula 1 racing team, spent 15 years developing the air engine and recently has been in Australia and New Zealand demonstrating the technology with partner Louis Arnoux.

The first production OneCAT cars are expected to go on sale sometime this year and use compressed air to drive the engine’s pistons, Negre says.

Running on compressed air, alone, the car can cover 94 miles (150 km) with a top speed of 69 mph (110 km/h). But when the air is heated externally and incorporated with a fuel source, such as ethanol or diesel, it is possible to travel the 2,239 miles (3,604 km) from Perth to Brisbane without refueling.

The car will be economically and environmentally friendly, Arnoux tells the Melbourne Age newspaper, retailing for less than A$8,000 ($7,073) with running costs 80% lower than comparable vehicles.

The car can be refueled by plugging it into a conventional compressed-air supply available at most service stations.

Negre and Arnoux recently showcased the MDI engine, along with the IT MDI technology portfolio, products and manufacturing processes, in Melbourne to representatives from commerce, industry, city councils, the state of Victoria and the federal government.

The pair also previewed the solar and sustainable IT MDI-Energy initiative, a 5-year, A$1.5 billion ($1.3 billion) program they say aims to smooth Australia’s transition to 100% solar-based and sustainable infrastructures for power generation, transport and communications.

In addition, the program aims to create more than 7,000 jobs during the next five years.

“Over (the next) 10 years, we aim to reduce car emissions in Australia by 20% and emissions from power generation by 80%,” Arnoux says.

MDI plans to unveil its new power generator and OneCAT car this month in Nice, France, followed later in the year by demonstrations in the main urban centers of Australia and New Zealand.