Steane Klose | Apr 2, 2009

Talk to most engineers and they will tell you that a perpetual motion machine is an impossibility. Something to do with energy being required to produce energy, or in other words you cannot make something out of nothing.

The engineers at MINI in the USA obviously missed that memo, as they have released first details of their revolutionary magnetic propulsion system that will extend the range of the MINI E to several hundred, possibly even thousands of miles, on a single overnight charge of electricity.

Drawing on Magnetic Tow Technology (MTT), MINI USA has developed its own unique Propulsion / Repulsion System (PR 0401) that they say is, "just one short step away from perpetual motion in an automobile".

MINI’s PR 0401 System uses a series of magnets located in the moving and fixed parts of each of the MINI E’s four wheel hubs to both pull and push the wheels in the desired direction, exploiting the magnets’ natural tendency to attract and repel.


BMW/MINI are claiming that this system will allow the MINI PR to travel huge distances for just a few cents. It also produces virtually no noise as the electric motor can be switched off once the car is moving.

“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,” said Professor Lirpa Loof, Head of Magnetic Attraction Technology at MINI USA.

“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 on the move, only tiny amounts of electric current are required to switch the magnets on and off to reverse their polarity.

That's going to be one damn slow MINI you are likely to be thinking.

Wrong. 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...

Perpetual motion isn't possible according to the laws of physics, but it looks as though both MINI and BMW are achieving the next best thing, 'Almost Perpetual Motion'.

“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.”

One thing that is here right now, is the 1st of April Stateside.

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