BRATTLEBORO -- Ethan Tucker is eager to put the pedal to the metal to help reduce society's carbon footprint.
The Hollywood screenwriter came to town a while back to visit his sister and brother-in-law, Ellen and Pierre Capy, the owners of Mocha Joe's, when Pierre mentioned hearing about a car that runs on air.
"I thought it was absolutely perfect ... the minute I heard about it," Tucker said. The vehicle in question was an AIRPod, which is in development by Motor Development International and is powered by compressed air. MDI and Zero Pollution Motors have teamed up and the latter has the rights to begin commercial production of these vehicles in the United States. Tucker, who got involved during the automotive crisis of 2009, has been named the interim president of Zero Pollution Motors and fellow Brattleboro resident Josh Dillingham is the social media manager.
Tucker has started a grass-roots campaign and is aided by his niece, Sophia Capy, and her friend, Eliya Petrie, in raising awareness of the AIRPod and its potential. The three have taken to the Brattleboro Food Co-op a handful of times in an attempt to educate people about the revolutionary vehicle and drum up support for an AIRPod factory in Hawaii.
Tucker has told the Reformer the AIRPod was invented by engineer Guy Negre, of Nice, France, after years of experience working with Formula 1 racecars. Zero Pollution Motors is owned by Shiva Vencat and based in New Paltz, N.Y., and Negre has given the company permission to move ahead with the AIRPod. Tucker said AIRPod vehicles can travel 35 mph on compressed air with zero emissions. According to Dillingham, AIRPods eliminate the pollution of internal combustion engines and can be refueled in just a few minutes, unlike electric vehicles.
"Compressed air technology is a real solution to our transportation energy crisis, and is superior to any other alternative energy source currently available," Dillingham said in a statement.
Tucker said an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign was started to raise the money needed to construct the first factory, but that venture was abandoned for Fundable.com, instead.
Tucker said there is no intention of building a factory in Brattleboro because MDI maintains a turnkey, 50-mile radius (which may be increased to 100) policy, which means the products will not be delivered or transported more than 50 miles from the factory as a way of cutting down the company's environmental footprint. Tucker said there are not enough people within 50 miles of Brattleboro to purchase the number of AIRPods that would have to be manufactured to make the factory feasible.
Sophia Capy said her uncle has been talking about the AIRPod for a while and got involved because she is from "a total non-pollution family."
"We're trying to tell people," she said, "what our future can be and what it will be with the AIRPod."
Sophia recruited Petrie and the two have lobbied in public places for support several times.
"We can make a difference in the world if we really want to," said Petrie, who got involved in January. "If we can change the world, why not try to by taking away the pollution that is essentially ruining our world?"
The AIRPod has been featured on CNN and BBC and actors Rocky Carroll (of "NCIS") and Luke Perry (of "Beverly Hills, 90210") have done a commercial spot for the product. Actor Chris Noth (from "Sex and the City" and "The Good Wife") has also signed on to be an official sponsor. Tucker even said he, his niece and Petrie have been asked to appear on FOX's "Crowd Funder Show," which he said will serve as a platform to inform the world about the AIRPod. Tucker also said Heather Childers of the FOX News Channel has contacted him about a possible story.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.