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An interesting concept to extend electric range whilst adding utility.

http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/260395/





Autocar said:
Swiss firm Rinspeed has shown off more pictures of its innovative new Rinspeed Dock+Go concept that will be unveiled at next month's Geneva motor show. Rinspeed says the new concept addresses the range anxiety issue associated with electric city cars.

The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive-based concept features a detachable trailer axle – which Rinspeed calls a ‘backpack on wheels’ – that can house a combustion engine or range extender, be packed with batteries or powered by a fuel cell. This ‘backpack’ powers the rear wheels of the Fortwo, thus increasing the otherwise limited range of the electric Fortwo.
See official pics of the Rinspeed Dock+Go

If a driver is only going to undertake a short journey, then the ‘backpack’ can be removed and the car’s standard all-electric range remains. Rinspeed’s creator Frank M Rinderknecht calls this charging range-extending system a ‘vario-hybrid’.

When the pack with auxiliary batteries is docked and the vehicle is not in use, the pack can be used to provide electricity to the driver's home.

The trailer comes in various sizes and styles to meet a variety of different potential uses. Those outlined by Rinspeed include a heated box for pizza delivery drivers or a mobile toolbox for craftsman. It can also be adapted for storing golf clubs or equipment for camping trips. Any battery packs can be recharged using solar panels on the roof.

Although the concept is based around the Smart Fortwo ED, the Dock+Go system could conceivably be attached to other vehicles.














 

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Not sure how well that will work with such a short wheelbase and no articulation between the rear wheels. Works okay on a tracor trailer because of bigger wheelbase.
 

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This is what happens when you decouple the drive train from the energy source. The docking energy modules is a brilliant concept and one that we may see in other cars as battery energy density increases. Being able to easily swap in a range extender or extra batteries or nothing depending on the mission would make the serial hybrids even more efficient by eliminating the need to carry around a lot of extra weight (both in the engine+generator and structural complexity) that you don't need for that particular trip.

-- Fab.
 

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The overall idea is not new; people have made home-brew "generator trailers" to use as range-extenders hooked (via trailer hitch) to their home-brew EVs. It's a pretty reasonable way to go once you have eliminated local "range anxiety" issues with 100+ mile battery range and/or quick charge stations that are as common as in cities as gas stations are now.
 

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ct-fiskerbuzz said:
The overall idea is not new; people have made home-brew "generator trailers" to use as range-extenders hooked (via trailer hitch) to their home-brew EVs. It's a pretty reasonable way to go once you have eliminated local "range anxiety" issues with 100+ mile battery range and/or quick charge stations that are as common as in cities as gas stations are now.
You are correct, and some of those designs are quite ingenious:







I particularly like this one. Remind you of any vehicles we know and love?



The Dock+Go is the first one I have seen outside the home-brew hacking community which tends to give this solution a bit more credibility and greater likelihood of going into production. Also, the snap-on approach, as opposed to a trailer, seems cleaner and more practical, and just a lot cooler.

-- Fab.
 
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