Aberdeen University has responded after an electric vehicle project it worked on was mocked by presenters on The Grand Tour.
In an episode released last month, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May compared the Esprit car sharing project to B-movie horror film “The Human Centipede”, a “Dignitas collection service”, and a series of airport trolleys.
Esprit (Easily Distributed Personal Rapid Transit) was developed with the help of Aberdeen University and transport business First Group.
It involves the use of “stackable” lightweight electric vehicles to save space.
The Uni and First are among a number of partners for the EU-funded project, which aims to reduce congestion and pollution in city centres and suburban areas.
A spokesman for Aberdeen University said they were “flattered” the Grand Tour took notice of their work and wanted to “improve their understanding” of the project.
In the episode on Amazon Prime, Jeremy Clarkson said: “What they’re saying is the future is going to be very inconvenient. That’s basically what they’re actually saying.”
Co-presenter Richard Hammond mocked the idea of the cars being “collected up by a random stranger”.
Hammond said: “I’ve got a blindingly good idea, I’d like to run this by you in a committee fashion.
“What if we had a car of our own, you could buy it or lease it, but it was, like, your car. And then –it’s crazy I know –then there would be a pretty good chance it would be wherever it was when you last left it when you came back to it.”
However, Esprit is designed for the first or last mile of a journey, with the idea being that people use their own cars to get most of the way to their destination.
This removes the risk of damaging your own car in congested areas, which Aberdeen Uni said was “good news” for supercar owners.
In response, a spokesman for Aberdeen University: “We’re flattered that the Grand Tour team has taken notice of our involvement in the Esprit project, and we’re happy to help improve their understanding of this innovative solution to city centre congestion.
“One of the main strengths of the concept is that the stacking function enables the redistribution of empty vehicles, overcoming the main weakness of one-way car sharing.
“As Esprit is specifically designed for the first or last mile of a journey, you’ll still be able to use your own car to get close to your destination, but without the added worry of damage as a result of driving in a heavily congested area – good news for supercar owners, we’re sure.
“With car-sharing schemes expanding throughout Europe, ESPRIT will create a system that will help reduce congestion and noise and air pollution, while providing greater energy efficiency.”