The Cars of Tomorrow Could Run...on Steam?

September 13, 2011

Somebody should probably check on the space-time continuum and make sure there are no rifts or dents in it because it feels like the past is merging with the present, at least when it comes to our transportation technology.

BMW is reportedly responsible for this quantum leap of car tech with its new "Turbosteamer Project" that harnesses steam power to move its mighty cars.

What's next? Will people start going to underground speakeasies to dance the jitterbug? Will the threat of the Cold War scare people into building underground, nuclear-proof bunkers? Will we be forced to find (gasp!) disco tolerable?

The process is actually much simpler than it sounds. The traditional steam engine heats water in an enclosed case and as the heat rises, it pushes against a piston causing it to move. The only difference with BMW's design is that the steam heat actually powers an electric generator hooked to the car's exhaust system, giving it an interesting mix of new world green technology and old school steam engineering. Who knew that BMW would be the first to manufacture the first widely available "steampunk" car?

Photo: Car Culture/Getty Images