Robert Bunting, Jr. Talks About Magnets for Cars on “The John Williams Show”


On September 14, 2021, “The John Williams Show,” broadcast on Chicago’s WGN Radio 720, featured a special guest. Bunting-Elk Grove Village’s General Manager, Robert Bunting, Jr., joined host John Williams to have a conversation about magnets for cars. The segment began with John lamenting the many problems plaguing the highways right now: speeding and aggressive drivers, traffic so bad that travel times have doubled, and a significantly increased rate of fatal crashes.

In the segment, John pointed out that the Secretary of Transportation has begun to call on those in the transportation industry to develop new solutions to try and prevent some of these problems. As John reflected on potential solutions, he got an idea. Why not use magnets for cars?

John proposed the possibility that magnetized bumpers could keep cars from touching each other, due to the fact that two magnets of the same poles cannot touch each other without repelling. Initially, his suggestion was not met with much enthusiasm. Seeking the insight of a professional, John made an on-air phone call to Robert. Robert explained that John’s idea was great in theory, but in order for the idea to work, cars would have to be significantly smaller and more lightweight than they are currently. To stop cars going approximately 60mph, Robert said each car would require 600lb magnets attached to both the front and back bumper—1200lbs total! Even more eyebrow raising, Robert quoted the cost for these magnets at approximately $30,000! That would take the price of a modest $20,000 car up into the luxury range of $50,000.

In regards to whether or not this idea would improve road safety, Robert provided a solemn observation: rather than improving road safety, the magnets could instead create an accordion effect as cars repelled in the opposite direction from each other, leading to a greater risk of accident and injury. Additionally, the magnets would only work to repel each other in the first place at a 6” range, and would be more likely to collect debris from the ground than to do anything truly productive. Great for street cleaners, but perhaps not so great for the average commuter. 

Robert offered some reassurance, though. For anyone who is particularly excited about the idea of magnets in cars, he informed listeners that the average car already contains approximately 250 magnets, although they are much smaller than a 600lb bumper magnet. These tiny magnets can do anything from powering sensors, to motors, to the speakers in car stereos. Because of the intense power rare earth neodymium magnets possess, they are able to condense a great deal of strength into a tiny package.

If you would like to learn more about magnets for cars and rare earth magnets for other applications, contact today.