Rinspeed has developed a novel way of extending the functionality and range of the Smart Electric Drive. The madcap Swiss modifier wants to put a range extender engine and extra batteries into half a car that slots onto the back of the Smart ED.
It seems absolutely ridiculous at first glance, but Rinspeed might be onto something. Using such a system means you only have to drag along extra weight when you definitely intend to go beyond the Smart’s 90-mile battery range.
Theoretically, it’s a better solution than range-extended electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt or Fisker Karma. With these cars, you must lug around a big heavy engine you won’t actually use on short trips. And on a longer cross-country jaunt, you have to bring along a heavy battery that’s redundant after the first few miles. Only on medium journeys somewhere in the middle is a range-extender properly fit for purpose.
While range anxiety may not be an issue with Rinspeed’s solution, unwanted attention may be. The six-wheeled buggy that results when the two halves of a Dock+Go are married together looks as if it’s rolled straight off the boulder-strewn surface of Mars. The extra axle can be powered, too, making it a go-anywhere, four-wheel-drive, six-wheeled, freak of automotive nature.
And once you’ve had the idea of building a six-or-four-wheeled extendable electric car, why stop there? Rinspeed has also dreamed up additional “backpacks” to turn the tiny two-seat Smart into an estate car, pizza delivery van or mobile disco too. A few bolts and a bit of shoving and you can switch from one to the other.
The notion is obviously a stroke of absolute genius, but it does create one issue that’s likely to be a challenge for any potential owners of Rinspeed’s hare-brained creation. While the Dock+Go may be two, three or four Smart cars in one, it’s going to need to two, three or four times as much space to store all its optional rear-ends.
If you buy a Dock+Go it won’t just be your electric range you’ll be extending. You’re going to need planning permission for a bigger garage as well.