Chery has brought one of the most unusual concept vehicles – actually and importantly, two such vehicles – to the Beijing Motor Show this week. Wonder what you're looking at in the picture above? How about a conceptual "road train" system where the individual cars can attach and detach when needed, forming one long snake that can make its way down the highway in all-electric comfort. See also: the SARTRE work done by Volvo.

Called the @Ant concept (yes, with the @ symbol), the vehicles are the very definition of an auto show concept. Able to go anywhere on its own, two or more @Ants can – with automated telematics systems, according to Car News China – pair up one car's rear wheels with the front wheels of another. @Ants "see" other @Ants and compare destination information via the cloud. If two are headed the same way for a while, the vehicles connect. Up to ten @Ants can be put together, and we'd love to know more about what this does for efficiency. We're also curious to see a video of the concept in action, because we sure have a few questions about how the whole thing works.


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  • 14 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 23 Hours Ago
      The vehicular centipede........ :D
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 23 Hours Ago
      computer says no
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 23 Hours Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        What about the happy dan score.. on a scale of 1 to 5?
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 23 Hours Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          hehe, I would add some modifiers to the scale. if there is some aspect of the vehicle that is a deal breaker then the score is zero and not just a simple summation. this looks like it's fairly light and might even have decent aerodynamics and electric drive but it's a zero because the concept is made unviable by the impractical train design necessitating those cat paw front wheels. I really dislike when some crayon people go crazy on a concept and pay no attention to viability. same with GM's ENV 2 wheeler nonsense. totally clueless. so it's a zero. another example would be if the price is so ridiculous as to render it irrelevant, that makes zero as well.
      Spec
      • 23 Hours Ago
      People get paid to come up with such stuff?
        DaveMart
        • 23 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Indeed. Look how inefficiently it uses road space when it is not part of a train. We know what a compact vehicle for urban use looks like, and it doesn't look like this and aerodynamics are a very, very subsidiary concern, with efficient packaging being the overwhelming priority. The Mercedes A-class is a good example. It may be boring but that is the way it works.
          SVX pearlie
          • 23 Hours Ago
          @DaveMart
          "Indeed. Look how inefficiently it uses road space when it is not part of a train." I know. It's got the same footprint as a subcompact car!
      Jim
      • 23 Hours Ago
      The big question is what kind of logic determines which cars can conect to others, can you decide what car you want to connect to, and can you refuse a connection request from another car? I could see this getting pretty creepy pretty fast, with hot young women drivers having a daisy chain of 8 unwanted creepy guys connected to them.
      Joeviocoe
      • 23 Hours Ago
      Could be more efficient on the highway as each trailing car would draft.. But in densely packed Bejing streets, where top speed is not going to be more than 35 mph? There is no real loss to wind resistance at such low speeds. Also, since no system will ever be 100% in sync... there is going to inefficiency from the cars pushing and pulling each other slightly. The engineer in me is not liking this. More automotive designs from @Art students?
        SVX pearlie
        • 23 Hours Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Of course it's an artsy concept. But on the highway, this would be good idea. And losses are almost certainly made up by the savings in air drag.
          SVX pearlie
          • 23 Hours Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          BTW, you are aware that heavy frieght trains may have 2 puller *and* 2 pusher locomotives, right?
      Ryan
      • 23 Hours Ago
      While the design might not be the best, it is an interesting concept. The biggest problem here in the US is who is the lead driver? It has to be automated because I wouldn't trust any normal driver with towing nine other cars behind them and trying to weave through big city traffic. The better solution would be to have an Amtrak type of train service to transport you and your car hundreds of miles between cities for less than the cost of gas... The problem is the timing and the waiting for other people. It almost has to be a bunch of small trains (car number wise), that could link up at speed, and drop cars off without slowing down the main train.
      fred schumacher
      • 23 Hours Ago
      These cars would be entrained for high occupancy lanes shared with buses, so no weaving in and out of lanes. A professional driver would take the lead, as guide cars do to lead a string of vehicles through construction zones. The cars would not need to be physically coupled, if they are electric, but would be controlled by the lead car. The benefit is not only better aerodynamics but reduced highway footprint as a result of the close spacing. If the cars are not physically coupled, individual cars can peal off for their exits, while the rest regroup and close the gap. New vehicles could join the train at the tail, all under computer control to make for a smooth merge.
      Ashton
      • 23 Hours Ago
      I got drunk this weekend and threw up...it looked just like these cars.
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