Innovation drives development forward. The automotive industry has been good at implementing new technology, not least in recent years. But for every award-winning idea, there are geniuses that don't quite reach all the way.
Three-point belt, airbag and adaptive cruise control. Auto brake with pedestrian recognition, dead-angle alarms and digital rear-view mirrors.
The list of technologies that have swept the automotive industry is many and every year, car manufacturers, subcontractors and inventors seek patents for news that they hope will give them an advantage over their competitors.
But of all the thousands of patents that are filed annually, it is far from all realized in any form. Below we have compiled a list of some of the more odd ideas, based on a compilation as British leasing company Vanarama has done, which so far shines with its absence in the manufacturers' range.
Wind turbine for electric cars, Peter W Ripley 2012, Toyota (2015) – US8513828B1
Sure, it sounds brilliant, to use renewable energy and incredibly green energy to power his car. And of course, wind power is a fantastic example of that. However, the logic becomes a bit hackneyed when you choose to put the turbine directly on the roof of the car …
It didn't stop Toyota from patenting a similar system. However, the Japanese had the idea that small turbines would sit in the grill or in the air ducts.
Folding rear Toyota (2016) – US10124840B2
Aerodynamics is a hugely important part when it comes to efficiency for cars. And in the era of the electric car, it is even more important. One thing that Toyota's engineering talent came up with was a kind of telescope stern that can be folded out when needed. So far, the Japanese company has not taken action and implemented this.
But the idea is not stupid and in fact Mercedes also had the concept of its design study Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile from 2015.
Cabin fragrance with anti-theft tear gas, Toyota (2017) – US20190070937A1
There are countless systems to create a comfortable interior scent. Toyota took this a step further and sought patents for technology that can also act as theft protection. This by showering unwelcome guests with tear gas.
Laser Windscreen Wiper, Tesla (2018) – US20190351873A1
Dirty windshield is a torment and so is the lack of windshield wipers. Tesla, which does not opt for innovative alternatives, came up with an idea for which the company has since applied for a patent. The system consists of a camera that detects dirt and guides a laser which then burns it away.
Sticker bonnet, Google (2013) – US9340178B1
When Volvo launched its V40, the company was first with an airbag for pedestrians. This is to protect the driver from hitting (even more) against the hard A-pillars or windshield. Google applied for a patent on a system that instead of airbags made sure to keep the pedestrian in place after being hit. This with a kind of fly paper…
Luggage Rollers for Goods, Ford (2017) – US20180339634A1
On paper a cruel idea for the lazy. Instead of having to stretch in all the way in their combi, you can have what is delivered to you at the far end. On a conveyor belt. Ford was running on it anyway. So far, however, we have not seen any model that has the finesse…. But who knows, it might come as an optional cross in the next-generation Mondeo.
Drum cleaning, BMW (2017) – WO2019095135A1
The car is washed continuously – by a drone! BMW had the idea of a car with an onboard system where a drone could be sent out and autonomously cleaned the car. Maybe a good thing, but the question is where to wash. In many municipalities, residents are asked to wash their vehicles on the garage driveway for environmental reasons as the dirt water contains substances harmful to waterways.
The Portable Meeting Room, Ford (2016) – US20180099705A1
Today, there are a huge number of concepts in so-called mobile meeting rooms. Where the autonomous vehicles of the future will be able to act in the workplace or office. This idea was Ford in the middle of last decade, but in a slightly simpler vintage. Instead, the company thought of a regular car, with a round passenger compartment. There, the directors were able to resign themselves as they rolled through land and kingdom.
Country Road Toilet, Jerry Paul Parker (1998) – US5946742A
There are few things that are as annoying as having to stop in the quarters because someone in the car is pissed off. In some countries it is forbidden to stop on the motorway, in addition, it can be very far between possible stops and exits.
It is this problem (or really for professional drivers who do not want or can spend time on toilet stops) that Jerry Paul Parker's genius from the end of the last millennium will solve. A portable toilet. The idea may be good, but it feels like a system that would be difficult to convince everyone in the car to use… In order not to talk about any hygiene problems that may arise after some time.
Seat divider, Christian P von der Heyde (1999) – US6260903B1
The air is free … How many parents recognize that comment from the back seat? A car holiday with children is often bordered by countless fractions from row two and it was for these occasions that the idea sprayer von Der Heyde patented his portable seat divider. An invention that erected an iron curtain in the middle of the back seat, thus dividing combatants.