Forget Better Place, Hook Your Electric Car To A Battery Trailer

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eBuggy range extending service

eBuggy range extending service

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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 service

eBuggy range extending service

Enlarge 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. 


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Comments (20)
  1. OK, I like this idea, but I fear it is ripe for Daily Show type satire :)

  2. This is a great idea which is easier to implement than battery switch/swap stations. I also like the fact that you are not locked into long term contracts.

  3. i like the idea and if postioning the e buggy stations WITHIN the range of the e buggy, the LEAF and drop off the trailer with its charge still intact correct?

  4. You know what... I kinda like it... I get myself the 40KW Tesla and when I take my 2 to 4 trips per year to Disney (I live in Miami) I tow the battery behind me! beats paying for the 85kw package!

  5. I do not think this is a good idea. Due to the expected drastic increase is battery range/$ and charge speeds, the charge-station-network idea will be the best option in a few years (i.e. more range means less network stations needed), and the current market is not large enough to support a product that will be obsolete in the near future.

  6. It's an amusing idea, but I'm skeptical - how are modestly-powered EVs supposed to tow this trailer up and down hills at freeway speeds? Is it partially self-propelled? What information they have online is pretty sketchy.

  7. So, the car will spend about 20% of the battery energy to tow the weight of the battery buggy around?

    I think it is better to turn the e-bugger into an onboard generator so BEV owners can rent on occasions to keep their BEV going during long road trips...

  8. "maximum speed of 62 mph" seems to me to be a problem. Don't know about other countries but here in the US, highways have posted speeds of 65,70, even 85 miles an hour. If you can't keep up with traffic on the road that can create dangerous situations.

  9. All of the U-Haul trailers have the posted maximum speed of 55 mph - just FYI...

  10. This seems like a good idea at first but there are a couple of issues. How many different vehicle models is the trailer compatible with? Also how many EV's can tow a trailer? I know the Leaf is not rated to tow a trailer and would assume the iMiEV also?
    I would much prefer a fast charge network to a trailer full of batteries!

  11. Hummm? Pop into a Better Place Switching Station for a 5 minute battery switch (100%) OR drag around a cumbersome battery trailer? Nope I'll go with the easy battery switch!

  12. if you divorce the BATT-SWAP from the rest of the system BP tried to build, tried to own the market with, then the batt-swap becomes more important. as batteries grow in range because fast charging on the hoof is destructive!! Towing half a ton of batteries up the Jurusalem hills, taking twist and turns on the Golan heights seems ridiculous

  13. Renault Fluence ZE is not allowed to tow anything. No idea why. I'd say this idea is a bit of a joke. Bite the bullet everyone: switching really works.

  14. We welcome the return of a trailer similar to the tZero Long Ranger. I am thrilled that the ebuggy will enable EVs to gain significantly additional range without having to resort to an ICE generator towed behind the EV. Here the EV owner will have a plugin hybrid, without having to carry around an ICE under the hood, which is only required occasionally. When will the ebuggy come to North America?

  15. The speed limit in California for all vehicles towing a trailer is 55mph. Having a 62mph speed limit towing the aerodynamic and low weight ebuggy is NOT a problem, except for those people who routinely ignore towed vehicle speed limits. Anyone followed a towed trailer as it begins to fishtail, just before it flips? Terrifying, but proof that towing vehicles requires lower speed limits.

  16. Rediculous. Not only is it a potential uneccessary safety issue (not everyone is cut-out for trailer towing) What about the lack of any significant emissions regulations (exhaust or evaporative) on stationary engines? If people think this is a good idea, they should have bought a Chevy Volt.At least with a Chevy Volt you're range extender ISNT un-sprung mass, AND it meets/exceeds all current automotive emissions standards.

  17. Comment disabled by moderators.

  18. Sorry, assumed this was ICE generator, but trailer towing is still not for most people OR the current crop of EVs. AFAIK none of the current plug-in vehicle OEs recommend ANY trailer towing as most of the cars safety systems and control strategies for systems such as ABS, DRP, TCS, and stability controls are significantly comprimised.

  19. One

  20. One major flaw..


    With Better Place customers buy EV's
    at the same price as regular gasoline cars..

    WITHOUT Better Place customers buy EV's
    at DOUBLE THE PRICE of regular gasoline cars..

    That's a MAJOR FLAW that,
    range extending of any kind
    including battery trailers..



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