Until there’s some huge revolution in battery technology, electric vehicles are destined to remain as urban runabouts, never going out on long highway trips … right?
Well, not if Germany’s ebuggy project has anything to say about it. The group is developing little range-extending battery trailers that could be towed behind electric cars, providing power to the vehicles on longer trips. When a user’s trailer started getting low on juice, they could just pull over at a roadside exchange station and swap it for one that was fully charged.
In more detail, the plan is that users would start by hitching an ebuggy to their car when leaving their home city. They would pick that trailer up at an exchange station, on their way out of town. It would only take about two minutes to hitch up and plug into their vehicle’s electrical system. They could then swap it out if needed while en route, depositing the final ebuggy at a station outside of their destination city. For driving within either city, they would just use their car’s existing battery.
Users would pay for the trailers on a per-use basis, via an ebuggy card which they would receive when signing up for the service. Fees would be automatically calculated and billed, and would reportedly “always be lower than driving a gas or diesel car.” Those users would also initially have to get an ebuggy kit installed on their vehicle, which would include a standard trailer hitch, a power socket, and a dashboard user interface.
A prototype trailer has been built and tested, thanks to the involvement of Germany’s Ministry of Economics and Technology, and project partners including the Fraunhofer Institut IPA and Stuttgart University. That prototype is claimed to work perfectly – its battery capacity hasn’t been stated. The group is now optimizing the design for large-scale production, and is looking into establishing a network of the exchange stations across Germany and ultimately in other countries.
via Gizmag – Max Kennedy
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