We gave you an early look at the innovative Rinspeed Dock+Go Concept back in December and now Rinspeed's headman, Frank M. Rinderknecht, has provided even more information on the modular Dock+Go system that he has dubbed "the world's first Variohybrid."
Although Rinspeed's Geneva demonstrator is based on a smart fortwo ED, the Dock+Go system is suitable for use with any electric-powered city car. This multifaceted "backpack on wheels" can be adapted for any number of functional purposes, from pizza delivery hot box to craftsman's tool toter to secure stow space for skiing gear to the latest application -- a high-end mobile sound system designed by audio specialist Harman.
But beyond its stylish visuals and flexible functionality, the Rinspeed Dock+Go trailerette also offers on more very trick bit of technology: a literal easy on/off solution to the issue of range anxiety that earns it's the Variohybrid tag. It comes in the form of a dedicated "energy pack" that can be fitted with a supplemental battery pack, fuel cell stack or even a small internal combustion range-extender engine. The energy pack uses the docked third axle to actually drive the vehicle's rear axle and deliver an on-the-fly recharge to the EV's primary on-board battery pack. The system also has been designed to permit at-home recharging of the batteries in the Dock+Go energy pack using solar panels mounted on the roof of the garage, and is technically capable of transferring energy into the owner's home itself. Rinderknecht says the system is currently going through the Swiss patenting process.
In keeping with typical Rinspeed character, the Geneva smart fortwo ED and its Dock+Go accomplice have been suitably dressed to impress. Both units are finished in silver metallic paint that resembles ice crystals while the chrome-blue accent striping is made from a flexible 3D electroluminescent film and a custom programmable "identiface" display surface replaces the conventional grille. Custom 205/40 Goodyear low-rolling resistance tires are wrapped around unique 17-inch AEZ alloy wheels. The cabin treatment is equally distinctive with red and black dominating the color scheme and a 12.1-inch gesture-control monitor to enhance functionality on all of the car's well-connected levels. Other trick touches include four exterior-view cameras, a glass panoramic roof panel and adaptive navigation.
Rinderknecht says the Dock+Go system is currently going through the Swiss patenting process. While there's no final word on of its ultimate status, the Rinspeed boss does admit the company "has been in productive talks with potential manufacturers for some time now."