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Stupidity signalling

Everyone has now heard of "virtue signalling", the idea that words are uttered or actions taken simply to demonstrate membership of the group of "right-thinking people". Taken to its extreme, however, virtue signalling becomes "stupidity signalling" and here we have a truly epic example in the shape of the EP Tender, a trailer containing an electric generator, which you tow behind your electric car on longer trips.



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Reader Comments (106) we have a truly epic example in the shape of the EP Tender, a trailer containing an electric generator, which you tow behind your electric car on longer trips....

Better, I suppose, than a long extension wire...?

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Is this for real?

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Is it April 1st? Is it powered by diesel, petrol or LPG?

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:17 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Why not go the whole horse and have the secondary power source towing the passenger vehicle?

And why not get TravelLodge to build new coaching inns with stables?

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Hey, but at least the oil price plunge makes it cheaper to run? Now if they could find a way of actually bypassing the batteries and powering the motors directly? ;-)

The "payback" times of Nissan and Renault electric cars (with the UK subsidy) must have been effected by the oil price plunge? Anyone with any info? The "badge" showers do not mind paying the extra costs of electric cars, but these cars have been marketed (leasing/maintenance schemes etc) to the general public as viable alternatives. Just wondering.

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

Excellent idea, now we can all sign up as STOR supplies.

Just imagine all of these generators up and down the country, coughing into life on cold winter mornings to help the grid!!

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

Bit early for the silly season but in other news

Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce forced out for supporting a Brexit

Chairman of EDF quits over Hinkley point costs overruns

2000 jobs go at N Power

And land grab scam by solar power farm firm and RSPB


Mar 7, 2016 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

For really, really, long trips, they can attach another trailer with a gasoline tank. Chugga, chugga, choo choo.

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

To be fair, I could imagine these kept at various depots across the country. Each with a "circle of range" and the whole country is covered. And for "base" changes for the vehicle (i.e. the car needs to change location for say at least a month) there could be a rental business in it. Allowing you independently and quickly to change locations.

But a transient and specialised busines. Short term ad not worth the bother.

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

It's for real, there is even a video:

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterNiels

Don'tcha just love that number plate - "AA OOO AA" !

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterherptile


There is a survey form on the website that you linked to The manufacturer wants feedback.

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

Just a thought but for absolutely dire emergencies shouldn't they also have a horse-box after the generator?

With a horse in it of course which can recharge itself from the grass verges whenever the fancy takes it.

You could also collect it's dung and have a little stove in the boot for when it's chilly or when you want to cook a flat break or something.....

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

It's not a Tender unless it's got coal in it.

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:38 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp


With respect to the manufacturer I truly don't have a problem with them in as much as somebody with a bit of business nous saw a market opportunity and went for it. From that perspective I say good luck to them.

Sad that we have reached this point though.

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

From the tender website

"EP Tender has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 684085 (H2020 SME phase 2)​, as well as the "Programme d'Investissements d'Avenir", Kic InnoEnergy and the Région Ile de France".

From the EU Horizon website,

"Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) "

Nice moolah if you can get it.....

Hey, I've got an innovative idea....................................

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

I agree with jones above, there might be a marketable niche, particularly as occasionally rented items. The problem is in the degree to which the driver and passengers are subject to self-consciousness of hypocrisy.

Perhaps it could be marketed to the brave progressive motorists willing to challenge the wild countryside endarkened by lack of handy plug-ins.

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Well it is French. The most stupid idea I have ever seen in all my 74 years.I would have gone for a wind turbine on the car(sarc off ).

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Perhaps it would be a good idea to put a dynamo, you know the kind we used to have on our bike back wheels, on each wheel, then when power gets low, hop out and press the Dynamo into contact with the tyre; sorted, or sumfink!

Mar 7, 2016 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterOver the hill and faraway

This truly is the "age of Stupid".

Unfortunately there is no cure for "stupid".

Mar 7, 2016 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

I'll have to self censor myself, else discombobulated indignation, may well drift into, it becoming very, very vituperative.

Mar 7, 2016 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


"occasionally rented items"

Or they could be really innovative and hire whole petrol-driven cars! Although maybe someone does that already...

Mar 7, 2016 at 11:04 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Towing a trailer everywhere will just create unnecessary drag. Why not put the engine inside the car? I expect there may be space for a fuel tank somewhere aswell, and cars without trailers are easier to park and take up less room on the road.

Mar 7, 2016 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Surprised it isn't a Powerwall - mobile edition.

After seeing gaggles of EVs and their glum looking owners (did I spot number 5 in the queue?) at motorway service areas - I can imagine that the smug of most some EV owners will translate into more of the already apparent wallet oneupmanship.

Looks like they've grabbed at least some regional development public money.

Mar 7, 2016 at 11:34 AM | Registered Commentertomo

I think it is an excellent idea. I manufacture trailer electrics interfaces, so anything that puts more trailers on the road is a great idea. It’s about time that I had the opportunity to get in on the global warming/eco scam.

On a more serious note, would it not be more convenient and probably cheaper to simply hire a car from the same car hire company when embarking on long journeys?

There are also very limiting restrictions on towing. Many small cars, but especially electric cars are not set up to tow and may not have an adequately reinforced structure to permit it. Electric vehicle manufacturers generally frown on their vehicles being used for towing and so will not offer a towing bracket for these vehicles. An aftermarket towbar manufacturer may struggle to pass Type Approval requirements for a car which has not been designed to tow. Towbar Type Approval is mandatory for vehicles towing throughout Europe. But if a towbar manufacturer does manage to get Type Approval, the bars, plus fitting and towing electrics are likely to be quite expensive for a low volume specialist market.

Finally, one of the major, if not the only justifiable reason for the existence of electric cars is to avoid pollution in our big cities. I can see the clever punter who lives outside the battery range in the London urban spread, buying an electric car with generating trailer just to avoid the congestion charge. How long would it be before the authorities caught onto this and passed bylaws to include the generator of the trailer as part of the vehicles drive train and so exclude them from a zero congestion charge.

Mar 7, 2016 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterColin Porter

@Colin Porter

very good points !

It now only remains for Elon Musk to cross pollinate from SpaceX to Tesla and have a strap-on rocket pack for the Model S whose "only emmission" is H2O

Probably been done

Mar 7, 2016 at 11:52 AM | Registered Commentertomo

It is only the criticism of the idea here that is without aforethought. The key phrase to note is 'on longer trips' ie over 150 miles per day. So for most of us this means almost never; perhaps just the annual holiday if we are one of the few diehards having a staycation and thus braving the endless sodding roadworks in the UK. All shorter EV trips can be made at minimal cost using a battery charged at night when the baseload is otherwise wasted.

Mar 7, 2016 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Sails, John M., sails. Think of the fun.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Q. Why is an electric car like a sore bum?

A. Because it has a tender behind.

I'll get my coat........

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

'I think it is an excellent idea.' - Colin Porter

Just because electric cars are dumb doesn't mean accessories for them are.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

John M.

Yes, I'm surprised it's not powered by a wind generator in the slipstream?

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

Tomo: If I had a "strap-on rocket pack" on my car, my emissions would be more than just water!!

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Sort of reminds me of the fuel cell buses which were running around London during Ken Livingstone's stewardship - bearing the slogan 'Only emissions are HARMLESS water vapour...'

Except, of course, that water vapour is a far more potent driver of climate (change) than CO2......

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

".I would have gone for a wind turbine on the car(sarc off )."

That idea isn't as daft as it sounds. Since the car spends a lot of its time parked, a fold away wind turbine that could be erected to supplement the charge in the batteries would probably prove useful.

"Perhaps it would be a good idea to put a dynamo, you know the kind we used to have on our bike back wheels, on each wheel..."

Ah yes, the old dynamos on bikes, I remember them. There was the hub type often used by old people who cycled so slowly that the lights showed no more than an orange glimmer. Then there was the bottle shaped ones that had a little knurled wheel that pressed against your tyre. These provided more effective lighting but it felt as though you were riding up a steep hill into a head wind. Of course you could go the battery operated route and then spend most of the proceeds of your paper round on batteries.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

With a wind turbine on every hill, (we are getting towards that inevitable saturation point) cars could be towed up hills, and then freewheel down again.

Owners of battery cars could spend their time going up and down the same hill for hours at a time, without generating CO2, and it would keep them occupied, so they had no time for more stupid ideas.

Alternatively, what about a winch cable and pulley block system, so the weight of one vehicle going down a hill, could tow another one going up. The Dutch might say that this is a solution to a problem they do not understand.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The Idiocene is truly upon us. It has a 9.25 gallon fuel tank and a petrol engined generator in it. I.e. A fuel tank and internal combustion engine. Didn't Benz invent something like that but cleverly made it drive the road wheels directly?
According to the form it costs about the same as a second small car. So why not just buy a Citroen C3?

Where their amazing skill comes in is in tapping the money tree grown from our taxes.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

So, a power car at each end. Just like the Intercity 125, as promoted by you-know-who. lol.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

It'll also give regular motorists somebody to shout at when the regular Shed-Draggers aren't out on the roads.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I think it is an excellent idea.

Any car towing one of them has to limit its speed to 60mph on motorways and can not go into the outside lane.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

golf charlie - how about water power, like that which used to power the East Cliff funicular railway in Hastings..?

At the top of a hill, a car (or trailer) could be loaded with water, then a winch connected via pulley to pull another car UP the hill...

Makes as much sense to me as electric cars getting power from a power station powered by wood chips produced from grinding up perfectly good trees in West Virginia and transporting them across the Atlantic...!

But then I'm not a politician....

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

I can just see Jeremy Clarkson using one to pull the green-chicks.

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Hmm....the Tender is below the eye line out of the rear window. Towing a trailer is one thing, especially when you can see it, but.....parking this 'long' vehicle is going to be fun to watch in the supermarket carpark, multi storey carpark, petrol station, in the high street parking bays etc. on the long journey.

Imagine the turning circle with the Tender attached. Especially for the ladies who like to show off their green credentials. Ok, so it's not as long as a caravan and car but at least they usually go to a caravan park.

Maybe it has 'park assist' or a rear facing camera?

Mar 7, 2016 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRossa


"I can just see Jeremy Clarkson using one"

I'm finding that quite difficult, unless he does it specifically to ridicule the idea.

Mar 7, 2016 at 1:13 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

This is tacit acknowledgement that current battery and EV technology aren't up to anything other than short in town journeys. When I was working in the East Midlands round trips for work of 40 miles were the norm. In fact once my place of work was closed and we were made redundant and had to find work where we could journeys such as Derby-Sheffield, Nottingham-Leicester or in my case Derby-Coventry and back were the end result. An EV isn't a viable solution so why buy a trailer generator when there are better alternatives?

Mar 7, 2016 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

James G

The key phrase to note is 'on longer trips' ie over 150 miles per day. So for most of us this means almost never; perhaps just the annual holiday

Speak for yourself. I regularly drive 400km+ per day on business. On the expressway at 110-120 kph I'm not taking many prisoners, but the fastest drivers of all are the salarymen in company Prius'.


Quite. This is aimed at greens who think that cars are evil and this will be a longer-range shopping trolley. Watching manouevering and parking by the willfully ignorant will provide hours of fun, and an infinite source of material for YouTube.

Mar 7, 2016 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

sherlock1, funnily enough, I remember going on a funicular railway as a child in about 1970.Lynton/Lynmouth? What a brilliant idea!

Alternatively, if we removed all hills, the surplus material could be used for raising land levels, to make them flood proof.

Think how much cheaper and easier it would be to go up Mount Everest, if one ascender was pulled up by a descender, on the same rope. No need for all those sherpas to risk their lives carrying food up from the basecamps, if thrill seekers could go up and down within a day.

Mar 7, 2016 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

...and of course when it's time to go on vacation, caravan owners will have to attach an extra tow-bar to the back of the caravan. Unless EP Tender also supply a unit that can attach to the front of the car. Or maybe one on the roof...

Mar 7, 2016 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

LOL, I remember this as a road going prototype in the mid 1970's.
It isn't all stupid though, the ICE is/was designed to run at a constant rpm for optimal efficiency.

Mar 7, 2016 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Sorry to pour even more cold water on this brilliant idea, but with a 42 litre petrol tank on board in such an exposed and vulnerable position, I wonder what the explosion risk is in an accident. Can you imagine following one of these on the motorway when it becomes unstable because the car is being driven at too high a speed. It begins swaying violently, flips over and becomes disengaged from the vehicle, crashing into and being trapped under your car, puncturing the petrol tank and igniting its contents and engulfing your car in a ball of fire.

Mar 7, 2016 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterColin Porter

"I can just see Jeremy Clarkson using one"

I can't believe that we have got this far into the comments thread without the Top Gear episode of _exactly_ this idea being mentioned:

The first ever car to sport a moustache...

Mar 7, 2016 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General

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