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Inflatable Electric Car Earns Innovation Competition Prize

The inflatable electric car developed by Benoit Payard | Photo: YouTube / Actumagfr
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Daniel Rufiange
The inflatable electric vehicle as a top speed of 45 km/h.

•    An inflatable electric car? Here you go!

Since 1901, the Lépine competition, which rewards innovations, has been held as part of the Foire de Paris. At this year's event, a highly unusual presentation caught everyone's attention: an inflatable electric car.

What's more, it can be stored, transported and shipped in a bag.


The car is the work of French engineer Benoît Payard, who presented in Paris the AirNAM, an innovative concept vehicle that can be deflated and stored in a bag. One big advantage, of course, is that it takes up very little space.

The car is equipped with four bicycle-derived wheels with Fatbike-style wide tires. It has an electric motor, of course, but also pedals used to move the vehicle forward, rather like an electric bicycle.

The total weight of the AirNAM, without counting the wheels, is 80 kg. With the wheels on, it can reach a top speed of 45 km/h.

The inflatable electric car
The inflatable electric car | Photo: YouTube / Actumagfr
The inflatable electric car, front
The inflatable electric car, front | Photo: YouTube / Actumagfr

We can imagine a host of uses for this model, which can be transported just about anywhere and is fit to use on bike paths and on landscaped trails, plus in national parks and campgrounds, just to name those.
Benoît Payard began working on the idea in 2019. He anticipates launching it commercially in 2025, with a price tag of around 3000 Euros, or some $4,500 CAD. A production version should incorporate additional features, such as seatbelts and mirrors.

As always with innovative concepts like this, big challenges remain for the designer. To make his project profitable, Payard will have to produce a lot of them to reduce costs per unit, currently estimated at 10,000 Euros ($14,850 CAD). Future buyers will also have to be convinced of the model's safety bonafides. 45 km/h is fast enough to pose risks to users.

The biggest hurdle, though, is likely to be convincing legislators. It's conceivable that some places will ban this vehicle for various reasons. We'll have to see how the public responds. If the public is interested, the authorities should at least give it a chance.

One thing's for sure: Benoît Payard's gold medal win at the Lépine competition shows just how appealing his invention is.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists