Swiss firm Rinspeed is addressing the range anxiety issue associated with electric city cars with its innovative new Rinspeed Dock+Go concept at today's Geneva motor show.
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.
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.