Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, the division of Toyota that works to make new cars and technologies, allegedly filed a patent for a telescoping device design to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamic efficiency. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the patent was filed in 2016 but made public by TEMA last month.
Images of the patent show a strange drill-like attachment to the end of a sedan. But the device is actually a tapered, deployable air drag reduction mechanism with an actuator to deploy it.
According to autoguide.com, by reducing air drag, the strange yet effective feature reportedly improves fuel economy. Normally in order to improve fuel economy, manufacturers work to make the body of the car more streamlined in order to effortlessly glide through dense air found at ground level. Occasionally, it involves making wheel spokes more aerodynamic or installing vents and diffusers where air passes at high speed.
The back of the vehicle is the most difficult spot to make more aerodynamic and this device may provide a solution to that problem.
As a car drives, it creates a sort of vacuum behind it where air is pushed out of the way. Air rushes to fill that space but as it does, it pulls in more air that then strikes the car creating drag.
The drill-shaped device would prevent drag by gradually decreasing the size of the void. But the benefits the car would gain from reduced air drag would be outdone by the added weight to the car, according to the USPTO.
Toyota has not yet responded to The Dive's request for confirmation.