Annual April japes from the motor industry
For some vehicular brands, showing a human side might be considered a betrayal, reports Iain Robertson, as he rounds up the 2017 collection from those firms that actually possess a sense of humour…
To be brutally honest, not all April Fool’s Day jests are really that funny and, after almost fifty years of attempting to make observers, or readers, roll in the aisles, a number of the protagonists ought to claim repeat fees. Yet, some of the national newspapers and even some specialist journals and monthlies have been known to fall, hook, line and sinker, for the most earnest of the creative efforts, many of which are accompanied by appropriate pictures.
Troubled Chinese brand, MG, got into the mix this year with its ‘MICE’ system. The company announced that it had developed an EMOJI projection medium for both windscreens and rear-screens of its cars. According to ‘Professor Hans Frei’ at the MG boffin laboratory, he did not wish to ‘cheese off’ potential customers with the wrong EMOJIs, as his department arrived at around 150 MG Inter-Car Emojis (MICE) that might be readable by an international audience, front and back.
Sports car manufacturer, Lotus Cars, it seems, has developed speciality ‘head protection’ for owners’ favourite moggies. Not dissimilar to a motorcycle helmet, it promised to be as lightweight, optimised and ergonomical as any of the car producer’s renowned sports models and would allow owners to place the animal’s name and blood group in its final design. The inspiration, it appears, came from the company’s cat, ‘Clark’, which is reported to jump into static test cars at times.
Honda, on the other hand, allowed its ‘Future Opportunity Occupational Lead’ (whose made-up name I shall not even attempt to rewrite) to announce an in-car dating app called ‘H-Swipe’, which connected to a digital windscreen fitted with interactive, directional windscreen wipers that accept, or decline, images of potential dates in the vicinity of a parked Honda Civic. Marvellous.
German carmaker, BMW, also pursued a pet route with its innovative ‘dDrive dog basket’, powered by a TwinPower Turbo fan that allows owners’ dogs to experience a wind-in-the-hair experience from the safety of the domestic abode. ‘Jack Russell, Head of Product Fabrication’ is said to have produced the bed from carbon-fibre, upholstered with finest Nappa leather. How sweet…sadly, the photograph would not download.
It was equally sad that the image from McLaren Sports Cars would also not download but it is worth highlighting that ‘Robin Crane, Head of Biomimicry’, apparently an indulgence of the company to take what nature provides and apply it to its motorcars, clad an entire 570S model in black feathers to see how fast it could fly. Yes, indeed. The ‘feather wrap’ video is on You Tube, if you are interested.
Skoda is celebrating the launch of its first 7-seat SUV, the Kodiaq, with a ‘Rent-a-Family’ option that would allow a selection of indolent teenagers, a phone-tapping wife and a couple of argumentative toddlers, with a doggy option, to provide first-time test drivers at Skoda dealerships with the experience of filling all available spaces within the car. Of course, ‘Mr Itsaj Oake, Head of Marketing’ insists that the ‘Family’ is returned after the test session.
Hyundai went into incredible detail about its ‘Click To Fly’ add-on service to its new Click To Buy on-line offering. It was suggested that up-to-four drones, renamed ‘H-drones’, could uplift a car as large as a Santa Fe SUV from the import centre and fly it directly to the customer’s address, thereby cutting out middlemen and dealership issues.
Finally, in an out-of-this-world move, Waze, a company that provides on-line mapping, has commenced the creation of a map for the planet Mars. The company suggested that footage generated by the future Mars Rover device would feedback surface information to over ‘400,000 global map volunteers’, enabling a concise series of routes to be devised around the planet. Needless to say, it is contemplating sending a map editor on a very special trip to the Red Planet in the not too distant future.
Among the most famous hoaxes of the past 60 years was the ‘Swiss Spaghetti Tree’ story created lavishly by the BBC Panorama programme in 1957. Five years later, a Swedish TV channel described how draping a TV screen with a nylon stocking could create early colour television. BBC carried out another jape, when it introduced ‘Smell-o-Vision’ in 1965, which (unsurprisingly) it repeated on-line in 2007.
In 1969, a Dutch TV channel announced that TV detectors would be out in force determining which households were using their tellies illegally. The solution was to cover the set in aluminium foil…the next day, the foil was sold out in local supermarkets and there was a surge of TV licence payments. However, even august newspapers, such as The Guardian, have created April Fool’s Day jokes. In 1977, it created a seven-page supplement about a fictional oceanic state to be called ‘San Serriffe’.
It is good to have a chuckle every now and then, even if it is only for the hours of 8.00am to midday on the First of April every year, and the British motor industry can always be guaranteed to produce something creative, even if it has to engage with its costly external agencies to do so.