Some Good Ideas We Gave To Car Companies For Free

When you hear the word “philanthropist,” chances are you either think it’s something dirty. Or you think of us, the Good People of Jalopnik, who give and give and give until it hurts, and it always hurts. What do we give? Ideas. Who do we give them to? The neediest entities of all, poor, innocent massive car-selling conglomerates. Why do we give? Because that’s just who we are, friend.

When we criticize a car, it’s often a pass at trying to make the world a better place. No, that is not enough cup holders for my family. Yes, I would like to be able to use the dashboard screen without crashing into a highway median. Here are some of the better ideas we’ve had that we just gave to companies for free.


Actually, we’ve given so many, consider this the start of an intermittent and likely soon-to-be-forgotten series! Here’s a first batch of four ideas, proffered to the carmaking world by Jalopniks Justin and Jason:

Car Knower Justin

Photo: BMW

Point And Park

Look, I’m not going to pretend I’m as well-versed in automotive innovation as the legendary Jason Torchinsky. All I know is that sometimes I have to talk to influentual people at various automakers and sometimes they’re polite enough to tell me I don’t have the worst ideas. Sometimes, like in the case of the new BMW 3 Series, they straight up tell me they’re going to take my idea.


Earlier this year, I was in Palm Springs for BMW’s test fest. Just a few months before, BMW had been droning on to me about the updated gesture controls in the latest BMW iDrive infotainment system, and this evening in Palm Springs I just happened to be talking with one of the employees who was responsible for coming up with new things for gesture control, and various other emerging BMW technologies, to do.

Right out of my ass, I said, “like what, having the car pilot itself and park in the spot where the passenger points to?” I wan’t even half aware of what I was saying, but the BMW employee’s eyes kind of lit up. “Yes, exactly like that. I’m going to take that.”


Sounds really hard to pull off, but sure! Go for it! If you’re ever in a BMW where you can point to a parking spot and the car parks there, you’re welcome.

Photo: Porsche

Taycan For Granted

Another time I called Porsche to ask how crazy you could get customizing the new Porsche Taycan, and I was disappointed to learn the early wave of custom options is pretty basic—down to wheel and color changes, minor tweaks here or there.


But me and one of Porsche’s executives started talking about the noise electric cars make, and I pushed hard for a highly customizable sound profile for the car.

Now, the Taycan already comes with a $500 “Sport Sound” option that adds a bit of rumble to the interior sound effect of the car accelerating. But I pushed for more, giving the Audi E-Tron GT from Avengers: Endgame as an example for a system of multiple programmable sounds that project from the car.


I’m talking a more external than internal noise for the owner to select. I suggested a slider, selectable from the infotainment screen, that ranges from more of a traditional rumbling exhaust noise that you’d be familiar with a car making, to a super out-of-this-world, defining new sound for the car. The benefit of the slider is the owner can almost infinitely vary what sort of noise their car makes.


Now why is this important? Well, as I pointed out to this exec, what will happen when the Taycan lines up against an AMG sedan? Or an M5? Or especially any Maserati? Sure, the Taycan may end up out-accelerating these cars, but it’s going to catch less of the attention because it barely makes any noise at all.

The number-one selling option on combustion-engine Porsches is an exhaust upgrade, so why doesn’t Porsche offer one on the Taycan to help it audibly battle its combustion competition?


Well, reader, thanks to me, maybe it soon will.

Idea Man Jason


The double-bed pickup truck.

Way the hell back in 2013, when I was young and beautiful and didn’t need these stupid glasses to read anything, I had an idea for a new packaging concept for pickup trucks: the double-bed pickup.


It was essentially a study in packaging, where either a mid-mounted ICE engine or an electric drivetrain with low-mounted batteries could be employed to make a pickup truck with a conventional rear bed, and a hybrid bed/trunk at the front. I even came up with the term “headgate” to refer to the front flip-down door, the counterpart to the tailgate.


At the time, people thought I was a fool, yelling insults and pelting me with roots and tubers as I innocently walked down the streets. But then, fast forward to 2017, and Bollinger starts to show off their new SUVs and trucks and guess the fuck what: they had a front bed, with a drop-down headgate.


Now who’s a moron? I mean, I guess me for giving an idea away, but still!

Car handling-enhancing rockets


This one goes even further back. Way, way back in 2012, I suggested that you could dramatically improve handling with the addition of some carefully placed reaction-control rockets, like what’s used on spacecraft.

The idea sounds kind of crazy at first , but I even had a physicist and a racing driver confirm that, really, it’s not all that crazy.


Then, in June of 2018, Brain Genius Elon Musk tweeted out this:


Aside from the flying part, uh, that’s pretty much exactly what I was suggesting back in 2012. Another free Jalopnik idea, taken up by the bigshots.

Rock Crawling Laser Assist System


This idea is more recent, and has yet to be adopted by any carmakers, so here’s your chance, people. The idea is that when rock crawling, it’s very helpful to be able to know where your wheels are pointed, and what obstacles they’re positioned to drive over.

I suggested that lasers could be used to plot the paths of the tires, using the same tech used in things like circular saws, and could turn with the steering wheel to give real-time information.


It’d be really helpful!

Remember: we freely give of our ideas because we genuinely want the world to be a better place, or, if not better, then at least louder, usually. Also, pretty much all of us lack the knowledge or ambition or resources to actually follow through on anything on our own.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)