Call up the main page of Rinspeed’s website, and you’re greeted by an image of its founder, Frank M. Rinderknecht. You’ll also see a series of quotes from John Lennon, Walt Disney and Mahatma Gandhi, centered around the theme that one should always follow his dreams.
That’s exactly what Rinderknecht and Rinspeed have done, creating such concept vehicles as the Rinspeed sQuba, an electric-powered car and submarine. There’s the natural gas-powered Rinspeed Splash, too, which crossed the English Channel in record time for a hydrofoil automobile.
It’s easy to get the sense that “impossible” isn’t a term used around the Rinspeed offices. Instead, you get a sense that a standard day starts with Rinderknecht saying, “I have this idea, how can we make it work?”
Case in point is its new Dock+Go mobility concept, designed to integrate with the electric-powered Smart. Not content to simply build a trailer with supplemental battery packs or a range-extending generator, Rinspeed is taking more of a “tell us what you need” approach to its self-proclaimed “Vario-Hybrid.”
An available “pack” may contain a hot box for food delivery drivers, while a second pack may contain tool storage for tradesmen. An energy pack could contain additional batteries, a fuel cell, or a range-extending generator, all offering greater range than the standard battery pack.
Rinspeed takes the Dock+Go concept one step farther: the docked third axle (of the Rinspeed “pack”) powers the combined vehicle, letting the second axle (of the Smart Electric Drive) recharge its onboard battery.
Once home, solar energy can be used to recharge the Rinspeed Dock+Go pack, ensuring that the concept produces the smallest carbon footprint possible.
Rinspeed says the Dock+Go concept could be applied to virtually any electric powered city car, and it will show the prototype of the system at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.