This odd-looking vehicle might struggle to meet crash testing rules – but it contains technology that could lead to a range of zero-emissions vehicles that don't rely on electricity.

How? The clue's in the name. The Moteur Development International (MDI) AIRPod runs on compressed air. It's a tiny two-seater, with three wheels and a total weight of just 220kg – but it has a range of 180-220km, a top speed of about 40mph and it can be fully recharged in just 90 seconds – the time it takes to refill its carbon-fibre air tank.

MDI believes the concept is worth developing and has developed another prototype, the OneFlowAir, a small two-seater open-topped four-wheeler that resembles a miniature Citroen Mehari, which combines the compressed air system with a conventional motor, creating an air-fuel hybrid system that has up to 100km of zero-emissions autonomy and an overall range of up to 900km.

Other, larger city cars are under development that will take the concept further. A six-seater mini-MPV called CityFlowAir could represent a more practical use of the technology, which MDI believes is ideal for emerging markets thanks to its low manufacturing cost, the simplicity of the powerplant and the lack of an infrastructure requirement other than compressed air.

Oddball MDI AIRPod could lead to a new approach to clean motoring

The technology is protected by 50 international patents and MDI is hoping that an automaker will adopt the technology in the near future. The company believes the technology could be commercialised for as little as €6,000.