Finally, we can stop complaining about the lack of space when buying a tiny Smart car thanks to the outside the box thinking from Rinspeed. By the same measure, Rinspeed takes a stab at the over-played and self-fulfilling anxiety pushed on unaware consumers, the dreaded “range anxiety”… Feel your Smart is too small and its range limited? Just bolt on an extension and get it over with!
Rinspeed. For those of you who don’t know who Rinspeed is, the company has dabbled with interesting automobile concepts and pushing technology whether we are talking pure, raw Porsche performance or squeezing out more juice from an EV. The extension for the Smart is yet another way to show how much the company thinks outside the box and offers interesting solutions to everyday problems.
If the Dock+Go is only a concept for now, no one knows how serious the company is about it. However, it seems to be headed to the upcoming Geneva Auto Show, which could give it a chance to go into production.
What Is The Dock+Go? Think about it this way, your Smart car has four wheels, but you could slap on two extra wheels behind, thus enlarging its capacity. In other words, when you are driving in the city and don’t need a lot of space, nor a lot of range. Your normal configured Smart EV will suffice. But say, you are going on a longer trip or to the mountain, or lake this weekend and all the sudden, your Smart car looks smaller than it is. You know there will be a plug to recharge but the Smart is not suitcase friendly. Well then, bolt on the Dock+Go extension and voila, instant extra room, instant extra range! As Rinspeed CEO Frank M. Rinderknecht puts it: "You're not going to take your steamer trunk as if you were going on a lengthy vacation if all you want to do is a little shopping at your local supermarket." But wait, it gets better. The Dock+Go comes in two flavors. You can choose between pure cargo, or add more power.
How Does It Work? Simply enough, by bolting the Dock+Go module on the Smart EV’s back axle, it extends the car in such a way as if someone stretched in into a hatchback. The power version, also known as the "energy pack", adds a set of extra batteries that extend the car's range. The genius from this design is that for every other day when you don’t the extra range, you can leave it home and use it as a temporary energy storage unit, TESU. In other words, charge the Dock+Go extra range module at night and use it in the day to resell the energy back to your utility or help cut down your home’s peak electricity power consumption. Either way, you win with multiple uses.
Technically Speaking. The Smart EV is no performance beast as I found when testing it a while back, yet it offers enough for most driving situations. The extra pack will still give you the 0 to 60 in 13.3 seconds but with a top speed of 82 mph, up from 70+ mph and 132 mph, compared to the 63 to 98 miles it can get in regular mode. Another added incentive is that the Dock+ Go module can also offer a new electric heater that cranks out 5.5 kilowatts of heat with 99% efficiency.
There is only one thing here, can we have a sliding and adjustable Dock+Go to change the size of our Smart according to our needs on the fly? But more seriously, the Dock+Go comes with intelligent design qualities, such as the ability to recharge wirelessly via induction. Unfortunately for now the answer to the questions how much extra space does the it provide or how far does the "energy pack" really extends the driving range, remains unanswered. We will know soon enough when the company reveals these answers as well as how easy is it to install and remove the modules at the Geneva Auto Show. As for the cost, it will again be a question of order numbers that influence mass production, bringing down the final price. In the meantime, Rinspeed once again shows us innovative ways to squeeze out more pleasure from the littlest things in life with its Dock+Go.