On 1st April BMW ran a ‘funny’ piece about something called ‘magnetic tow’ on the Business Car website, which was supposed to allow vehicles to make use of the engine power of another BMW in front of them. It was pretty clearly signedposted as funny – a ‘head of innovation” called Dr Noitt All is quoted, for example.
Yet the proposed technology isn’t all that different from vehicle platooning, which enables groups of vehicles to lock on to each other and then use the slipstream of the lead vehicle to reduce fuel consumption. There are supposed to be side benefits in safety and driver comfort too. Clearly an example of changing vehicle behaviour without having to go through the intermediary of changing driver behaviour – except that you need to get drivers to actually accept it in their vehicles and use it, like Intelligent Speed Adaption (see elsewhere on this blog).
Once again, I can’t see the Clarkson brigade taking to this with any enthusiasm – where’s the fun of having a big powerful car if you don’t actually get to make it go fast yourself? The impact on emissions is going to be pretty marginal too compared to the stuff that would really help (like enforcing or even reducing the speed limit), but I suppose every little helps – and once you accept that there is no magic bullet that will fix transport, then any kind of energy scavenging is worth having.