April Fool — how the motor industry pranked us
Carmakers let their hair down with humorous motoring misdirection
From a self-riding motorcycle that sets lap records to skydiving inside a museum, the motor industry came up with some novel April Fool pranks on Monday.
And it was the Germans who seemed to have the most fun, giving lie to a long-held perception about Teutonic lightheartedness.
BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle division of the German carmaker, claimed to have added a self-riding mode to its S1000 RR superbike that turns any rider into a lap-time hero.
The so-called iRace fully autonomous mode would “enable those with less experience to discover the full potential of the RR, without forfeiting either enjoyment or safety”, said BMW.
The mode would allow even riders who have just received their motorcycle licences to break lap records with the assistance of the autonomous riding programme.
“Whether accelerating, braking, gear shifting or steering, with the BMW Motorrad iRace Kit, the RR is able to perform every manoeuvre fully automatically if the rider so desires, enabling him to enter completely new dimensions of motor transport physics,” read BMW’s media release.
“An additional user interface in the TFT display enables the rider of the S1000 RR to preselect a particular riding mode for a specific race track, and in so doing programme any lap time of his choice — all the way up to the current record!”
The April Fool prank is actually grounded in some reality as BMW in 2018 demonstrated a prototype R 1200 GS motorcycle that rode itself around a parking lot and came to a safe halt on its side stand.
At the time BMW said it wasn’t really planning an autonomous bike, but the underlying technology would serve as a platform for future systems to make motorcycling safer. Like the driver aids of semi-autonomous cars, the bike could employ steering and braking interventions, while turning at intersections or when braking suddenly, for example.
Meanwhile late last week Mercedes-Benz sent out a media release announcing that as from April 1 it was laying on a special treat for adrenaline junkies at its Stuttgart museum: indoor skydiving.
The experience was based on the museum’s smoke ventilation system, said the release, which created the world’s largest artificial whirlwind. Using 144 powerful air jets designed to suck smoke out of the 42m-tall atrium, Mercedes said indoor skydivers would be able to use the fire protection measure to “simply take off. The effect of the jets is so strong that the tornado can allow people weighing up to 120 kilograms to float.”
To accompany the announcement, the carmaker released rather poorly photoshopped images showing how this tornado skydiving works.
For the record, the ventilation system is real; the skydiving experience isn’t.
Porsche got in on the April Fool festivities by claiming that it will drop its traditional Porsche crest in favour of a QR code, starting with the new electrically powered Taycan to be launched later in 2019. The horse of the official Stuttgart coat of arms has featured on the emblem since its introduction in 1952, but the announcement that it would be replaced by a QR code would have come as horrifying news to Porsche fans — if they’d allowed themselves to fall for it.
“The new world-first crest with a QR code embedded represents a turning point for Porsche, showing the world that it leads the way in digitalisation and is still one of the most innovative car companies in the world,” Porsche said in a statement about its decision.
The QR code actually functions and takes you to a page that says “April Fools” in big letters.