Scottish university researchers are reeling after Jeremy Clarkson mocked their electric “airport trolley” cars.
The Grand Tour presenter and his team slammed the Esprit car sharing project which is partly being pioneered at Aberdeen University.
They compared the lightweight 30mph vehicles to something from the B-movie horror film “The Human Centipede”, a “Dignitas collection service”, and a series of airport trolleys.
The tiny Esprit (Easily diStributed Personal Rapid Transit) vehicles are designed for short city-centre hops and are to be tested in Glasgow, Lyon and L’Hospitalet de LLobregat near Barcelona. They stack together like shopping trolleys, and can travel linked together in trains of up to eight.
Aberdeen University and transport business First Group 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 the university said they were “flattered” that the Grand Tour team - Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May - 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.”
However, Esprit is designed for the first or last mile of a journey, with the idea being people use their own cars to get most of the way to their destination.
A spokesman for the university said: “We’re flattered 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.
“ 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.”