In the movie Looper, it looked like the pickup trucks that Joe and Sara drove had their muffler exhausts feeding into their fuel fill-spouts.

What might the purpose of that be?

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  • Well, it only took me four years to find you an answer. I think that might be a new personal worst... – Valorum Nov 12 '16 at 21:18

There are no technical specifications for the vehicles of the era (and for the most part, I suspect they are not scientifically accurate in any case.) With that said, I propose the vehicles of 2044 come in four general varieties:

  • The "recycler": These were the vehicles in what looked like a muffler exhaust was fed back into what we today would call the fuel filling port. While we are making the assumptions that these were both muffler and fuel port, it may simply not be true at all.

  • It could be a closed pollution control system, capturing output gasses and reprocessing them to prevent pollution.

  • It could be a moisture capture system for a fuel-cell engine where water is a potential by-product and fuel source with the right kind of engine to process it and re-use it, preventing as much loss as possible.

  • Without getting more technical information from the movie, which was lacking, or unless the writers bless us with some technical tidbits, we are forced to guess at its true purpose.

Truck and its strange piping system

Truck and its strange piping system

  • The "I am rich and I don't give a damn mobile": In a future, which looks so poor, shanty-towns replace modern era ghettos, Joe's red car was one of those. It did not sport any solar panels, had an engine which sounded like a combustion engine and whatever it used for fuel had to have a high energy ratio such as gasoline or diesel, likely only available to the extremely well to do and pollution-tolerant. This car also likely came in a sporty electrical version.

Joe's sports car portraying the lifestyles of the young, rich, and drug-addicted

Joe's sports car portraying the lifestyles of the young, rich, and drug-addicted

  • The "econobox": rusty, small, powered by solar panels and movie magic, moved at less than fifty miles per hour, perhaps a lot less. These vehicles were used in the inner city scenes where people moved around but likely didn't need to go very far. They recharged on solar panels and the only question is why didn't poor people steal the panels and reconvert them for some other use?

Small, rusty, dull. The car of the future, powered by electricity and rust.

Small, dirty, dull. The car of the future, powered by electricity and rust.

  • The "Physics Denial Cycle 5000" a vehicle specifically designed to remind you Looper is a science fiction movie. No idea of what powers it, how it moves, or what keeps it stable. Bursting with cool, perhaps it just defies physics because someone said it should.

Looper's flying motorcycle

Looper's Flying cycle, defying the laws of physics for twenty years.

  • 2
    +1 and then some. Future tech gadgetry must always be planned according to the three considerations in your review: technological plausibility + role in society + coolness factor. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Oct 8 '12 at 9:03
  • @AvnerShahar-Kashtan - It looks like a similar question was asked elsewhere. – Valorum Nov 12 '16 at 21:17

The film's Vehicle Design Coordinator, Ron Mendell has provided extensive technical information on his website about the way in which cars in the Looper universe are retro-converted.

Essentially, technology from the future allows a 'sustainable combustion source' to be repeatedly re-catalysed (along with oxygen) to make usable fuel which can then run a converted petrol engine. Once it's been burned, it goes through the VERB unit and is ready to be used again.

In the future, Rian wanted gasoline to be so costly and un-available that it was reserved for the super elite. Ed had the concept that the cars ran off their own emissions with the support of solar power. So I came up with the V.E.R.B. - Vehicle Exhaust Re-Breather. This system allowed the exhaust fumes to circulate thru a VERB that contained a readily available power cel, then back into the combustion system to power the cars. The solar panels powered the VERB and assisted other electronic functions in the cars.

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Although conversion can be done at home using a few bits of pipework, you can see a rather more professional job below.

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