MINI USA Gets Creative For April Fools’ Day

By Kevin Miller

04.01.2009

minie3Being educated as an electrical engineer, I’m always interested in electric vehicles and their propulsion systems. That said, also being a member of society, I can recognized an April Fool’s press release when I see one, especially when it has to do with electric vehicle technology.

This morning MINI USA published a press release touting a “perpetual motion” magnetic drive system, to extend the range of their MINI E electric vehicle. The system, referred to by Mini as PR0401, is said to use the attractive and repulsive properties of magnets to create virtually limitless perpetual motion, with the ability to travel as far as thousands of miles on a single charge. Sound like an April Fool’s joke to you yet?

The team at MINI cooked up some elaborately vague description of the PR0401 system, which is said to build on the als0-imaginary Magnetic Tow Technology introduced on April 1 by BMW in the UK. While perpetual motion from magnetic charges looks thoretically possible on paper, whenever real-world properties like mass and drag are introduced into such equations, the motion tends to be less-than-perpetual.

In any case, MINI’s press release is an entertaining read, it is attached below.


MINI TO INTRODUCE “PERPETUAL MOTION” MAGNETIC PROPULSION SYSTEM
•    New magnetic system delivers world-leading fuel efficiency to MINI PR0401
•    Hundreds, possibly thousands of miles range on a single electric charge
•    Drive across the USA in a MINI for just a few dollars
•    Propulsion / Repulsion 0401 (PR0401) system is the ultimate range extender

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – April 1, 2009… MINI USA looks set to take a world lead in fuel efficiency with the announcement today (April 1) of a revolutionary magnetic propulsion system that will extend the range of its MINI E to several hundred, possibly even thousands of miles, on a single overnight charge of electricity.

Drawing on the same Magnetic Tow Technology (MTT) which was announced by BMW in the UK today, MINI USA has developed its own unique Propulsion / Repulsion 0401 (PR0401) System that is just one short step away from perpetual motion in an automobile.

MINI’s PR 0401 System uses a series of magnets situated in the MINI E’s moving and fixed parts of each of its four wheel hubs to both pull and push the wheels in the desired direction, exploiting the magnets’ natural tendency to attract and repel. Not only does this system allow the MINI PR to travel extraordinary distances for just a few cents, it produces virtually no noise as the electric motor can be switched off once the car is moving.

Professor Lirpa Loof, Head of Magnetic Attraction Technology at MINI USA, said: “The Mini E is already leading the way in EV performance, reliability and eco-friendliness but this amazing new system will push it onto another level. We could soon be seeing families travel across the USA from coast to coast for just a couple of bucks.”

“The only energy this system uses is a small draw on the battery to start the vehicle moving forward and then the magnets take over and their natural properties do the rest. This has to be the ultimate range extender,” he added. “Anyone who has played with magnets as a kid or travelled on a Maglev train will understand precisely how this technology works and the kind of performance we are talking about.”

Once moving, only tiny amounts of electric current are required to switch on and off the magnets, as the polarity of the fixed and moving magnets is rapidly switched from positive to negative. The magnets first attract and then quickly repel each other pushing the wheels in the desired direction – either forward or reverse.

One challenge that Professor Loof faced with the PR system was the speed of the MINI EV PR… and how to control it! The speed at which the magnets attract and repel each other is instantaneous, which means in theory the vehicle is capable of phenomenal speeds, restricted only by the time it takes to switch the magnets’ polarity and the wind resistance and drag of the MINI PR’s body. The MINI EV PR development vehicles are currently restricted to a top speed of 250 mph.

“For years, engineers have dreamed of developing perpetual motion for transport,” said Professor Loof, “And thanks to MINI PR, it looks like we are almost there.”
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Note to editors: BMW announced in the UK today that its award-winning EfficientDynamics programme has been taken to the next level with the announcement of an innovative fuel and emissions saving system called Magnetic Tow Technology (MTT).

The unique system, developed in conjunction with NASA, works via a discreet unit located in the front of the automobile that projects an enhanced magnetic beam 20 metres in front of the BMW.  Once a suitable target car is located and the BMW is magnetically locked on behind it, the driver is then able to take his foot off the accelerator, switch off the engine and let the automobile in front do all the work. The towing car will not notice any change in manoeuvrability or forward motion.

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Author: Kevin Miller

As Autosavant’s resident Swedophile, Kevin has an acute affinity for Saabs, with a mild case of Volvo-itis as well. Aside from covering most Saab-related news for Autosavant, Kevin also reviews cars and covers industry news. His “Great Drive” series, with maps and directions included, is a reader favorite.

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2 Comments

  1. It was weird to see the normally humorless BMW press release become an April Fool’s Day joke when I first got the e-mail about it.

  2. heh, makes you see how much mileage they could have gotten out of the joke if they hadn’t decided to throw the “perpetual motion” keywords into the mix. that makes it too easy.

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