Over the past few years, we’ve seen lots of innovative ways designed to help electric car owners travel beyond the range of a single charge without waiting for hours to refuel.
For example, owners of the 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2012 Mitsubishi i can recharge their car’s battery pack to 80 percent full in under 30 minutes at specially-built rapid charging stations, while Israeli customers of Better Place simply drive to the nearest automated battery swap station to switch out their empty battery pack for a fully-charged one in around 6 minutes.
But now a German company has revisited a classic solution to give your electric car more range: a range-extending battery trailer.
Based in Stuttgart, ebuggy aims to offer an on-demand range-extender trailer service which electric car owners can use as and when they need extra range from their car.
Designed to be exchanged at specially-designed ebuggy Stations at existing gas stations or rest stops, the small trailers are certified for towing at a maximum speed of 62 mph, and according to ebuggy, will be cheaper to hire than a conventional gasoline or diesel-powered car.
Unlike Better Place, which requires customers to sign up for the service at the time of purchase and pay a monthly service charge covering charging, battery swapping and battery maintenance, ebuggy says customers can sign up at any time for the service.
After registering, customers will be sent a kit for upgrading their existing electric car to the ebuggy system.
It contains a tow hitch, a power socket and an in-car display, which must all be fitted to the car.
Once fitted, the customer can then use the service, hitching up a fully-charged ebuggy at a nearby ebuggy Station when required to make extra-long trips.
ebuggy then tracks the amount of energy used by the customer, and bills them automatically once a month.
When deposited, the ebuggy then charges itself at the ebuggy Station while waiting for the next customer.
According to its online presentation, the ebuggy has enough power to provide up to 4 hours of freeway driving, bypassing the car’s battery pack and powering the car directly.
Then, when empty or dropped off at an ebuggy Station, the car’s on-board battery pack takes over.
eBuggy range extending serviceEnlarge Photo
With its first funding round now complete, plus substantial support from the German Ministry of Economics and Technology, ebuggy hopes to enter into network trials some time in the near future.
Of course, the concept of towing a secondary energy source along with an electric car isn’t new.
For years, enthusiasts and mainstream companies focusing on factory-built electric cars have been experimenting with the idea of range-extending trailers, building everything from gasoline-powered pusher trailers to a jet-powered Nissan Leaf range extender.
While ebuggy’s proposal doesn’t have the same simplicity as using a rapid charging station, or the high-tech chic of a better place swap station, it does have one extra bonus neither other solution has.
You’ll be able to use your trailer hitch for other things when you don’t need to travel so far.