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Verizon built Inspector Gadget’s car to promote a dongle

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A silly PR stunt? Sure. But still, go go gadget car!

If the phrase “go go gadget car” conjures up warm memories, then you’ll probably get a kick out of Verizon’s latest PR stunt: the Hum Rider. With the flip of a switch, this modified SUV can shoot skyward on hydraulic lifts, allowing it to literally drive over other cars. It’s every frustrated-driver-stuck-in-a-gridlock’s dream come true.

Here are the specs, according to Verizon:

  • Hum Rider widens to about eight feet and elevates five feet, so it can drive over a wide range of vehicles.
  • Hum Rider features over 300 feet of hydraulic lines that power everything from the steering and braking to the locomotion.
  • A single gas-powered Honda generator sits under the hood, delivering electricity to the pumps that drive 900 pounds of pressure to power all the hydraulic pumps.
  • Hum Rider weighs 8,500 pounds, almost double the weight of a standard Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Verizon says the Hum Rider drives like a normal car “in about every other way.” That said, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that Verizon built this car simply to promote the Hum, an after-market connected car gadget. The Hum enables geofencing and speed alert features, and is basically being marketed as a way for worried parents to keep tabs on their newly licensed teens.

Hum, which costs $10 per month, includes a module that plugs into a car's onboard diagnostics port, and a hands-free unit that can clip to a visor. Between the two — plus a smartphone app — the service offers vehicle health monitoring, roadside and emergency assistance, and stolen vehicle tracking. In addition to the location and speed alerts, the device will enable location tracking (a small expansion of stolen vehicle tracking) and a driving log, which measures travel times, engine idle times, and average speeds.

I couldn’t find video of the car going into stilt-mode, so this will have to suffice.

How that relates to an SUV that can drive around on stilts is anyone’s guess. “Of course your car can’t do that,” Verizon chuckles in the promotional video for the Hum Rider. “But Hum can upgrade your ride with other new tricks.” Get it? Upgrade? Up? Grade? Yeah, me neither.

I’m not saying that Verizon set out to replicate Inspector Gadget’s beloved Gadgetmobile, but damn if they didn’t come close. The only other attempt I’ve seen to build a vehicle that can literally drive over other vehicles is the dearly departed Chinese elevated bus / train hybrid that set the internet ablaze briefly in 2016, only to later be exposed as a total hoax. RIP, straddling bus. I never stopped believing in you.

Photo: Xinhua News