Published on December 9th, 2011 | by Charis Michelsen1
Three Axles = Extra Miles for Mini Electric Commuter Cars
Swiss manufacturer Rinspeed has a prototype all ready to go at the Geneva Motor Show next year – the Smart Dock+Go. The firm’s CEO Frank Rinderknecht usually shows up with some kind of new concept, and this year’s offering is a way to make a little city commuter even more practical.
More Room, More Range
The two-seater can be fitted with a dockable “backpack,” which rolls along on an additional single axle (does this mean the extra axle costs more at the toll booth?). The top of the backpack basically acts as extra storage space – for luggage, camping equipment, you name it.
Rinspeed uses the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive as the displayed base for the backpack prototype, as seen in the image below.
More Range, More Power
The Dock+Go isn’t just a glorified enclosed trailer, though. It’s also a new type of range extender. The “energy pack” includes a combustion engine with either batteries or fuel cells. The third axle backpack is then able to not only help propel its mini-car forward but also simultaneously recharge its electric batteries. The prototype is called a “vario-hybrid” (by Rinderknecht), the first of its kind, and it allegedly adds “significant” miles to the range of its mini-car.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about Dock+Go is Rinspeed’s claim that it’s not just compatible with the Smart, but with any mini-car. A product like this addresses the limited-range issue with mini electric cars, and helps it approach the flexibility of a traditional car. The question is how well it really works.
Let us know what you think in the comments, below.