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In the episode, "The Ricks Must Be Crazy", Rick discovers that his car won't start because the battery has died. While he's absent trying to fix the problem, his granddaughter Summer waits by herself in the car. This car has an AI to which Rick has issued the command, "Keep Summer safe." While following this command, the car operates several mechanical parts and a laser beam, creates a human child, and afterward still claims to have the capacity to destroy a small army gathered around it.

Is there an official explanation for why the car can do these energy-intensive tasks, even though it can't start?

  • It could well be operating on residual charge, which makes you question just how much energy is required to do interspaceial and interdimensional travel (hint: probably way more than the car used to Keep Summer Safe) – Broklynite Jun 22 '16 at 11:16
  • @Broklynite The car won't start. So even a single engine cycle requires more electricity than the ship has, regardless of any interdimensional travel or space travel. The car might have another fuel source (probably does), but usually a car can't use its main fuel without the engine cycling. – Keen Jun 22 '16 at 21:26
  • 2
    But Mr. Fusion only powers the flux capacitor. – Broklynite Jun 22 '16 at 21:56
  • Is there an official explanation for anything in R&M? – Mazura Jun 23 '16 at 1:11
  • Could he have built a step-down transformer and jumped the car? yes. But what sort of story would that be? – Mazura Jun 23 '16 at 1:13
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TL;DR: We just don't know.


What happens:

The "car" suddenly sputters to a halt. He quickly blames the issue on Steelerfan the battery:

[Engine sputters]

Rick: Oh, great. Oh, boy.

Morty: W-what's wrong, Rick? Is it the quantum carburetor or something?

Rick: "Quantum carburetor"? Jesus, Morty. You can't just add a [burps]-- Sci-Fi word to a car word and hope it means something... Huh, looks like something's wrong with the microverse battery.

A bit later, inside the battery microverse, Rick discovers the cause:

Rick: Huh, this isn't right. This pipe's supposed to be sending 20 terawatts of juice up to the engine, Morty. [Computer beeps] Instead we've got... zero?


What this means:

This wouldn't make sense with a normal car, because while the engine of a car is running, it is recharging the battery. As the engine runs, the battery is allowing energy spikes and shorts to travel harmlessly to the "ground", but it isn't actually making the car run. The battery starts the engine, but doesn't directly keep the engine running. The alternator usually has enough power to keep everything working without the battery. Removing the battery from a running car can do terrible things to the vehicle, but it usually won't directly make the engine stop running (although it may do so indirectly, due to the aforementioned terrible things).

So the fact that Rick's "car" immediately stalls when the battery dies means that it is clearly not a normal car. This was already pretty obvious, since it flies and travels through space and cuts people to pieces with lasers. Does it have a secondary power source? We don't know. Could the alternator keep the defense mechanisms working? We don't know, but that would be handy - Rick is an interdimensional criminal being hunted by law enforcement and shady alien mercenaries alike, and he's smart enough to think about what might happen if his pursuers came upon him while he was fixing the Quantum Carburetor... something or other.


What we can say:

The attention to detail and continuity that Harmon and Roiland have maintained on the show so far suggests that this isn't a goof, so we can probably assume that the "car" has some sort of backup power that is sufficient to keep the defense systems working, but can't/doesn't keep the "car" running.

In short, the engine wasn't running, but at least some parts of the vehicle still had enough power to maintain functionality for at least as long as Rick and Morty's trip into the microverse battery took.

  • It's also not a stretch to assume the computer has its own power source, as computing probably requires significantly less power than interstellar space travel... – jmite Jul 27 '16 at 4:54
  • I would suggest that since Rick is such a wanted man and designed his customized vessel knowing this, a level of redundancy or separate systems exist between the defense mechanisms of the car and the components of the engine - so that in case of interstellar/interdimensional drive problems, the car can still successfully defend the occupants. Also, interdimensional/interstellar drive probably generates huge amounts of residual EMF or other "strange energetic feedback out physics can't explain" so that that system needs to be powered or circut-ized separately from the other systems. – PhasedOut Jul 27 '16 at 13:51
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Rick's car travels through space and between dimensions, and takes 20 terawatts of power output to run. To get an idea of how much power that is, the average energy consumption of the earth's human population is around 15.

I would just assume that all those secondary functions of the car require far less energy than breaking spacetime in half to move (which requires an entire civilization's power output to run).

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The Cold Crank Amperage (CCA) capacity of a 12v car battery is upwards of 1000 amps. When you start your car, you're pulling on average between 400~600 amps, for a brief second.

Perhaps these other components don't require nearly as much power, and/or run off of some other power source.


After all, Mr. Fusion was only power for the time control circuitry; they still needed gasoline.

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