Just bolt what you need on when you need it
If you live in a traffic-nightmare city like New York or London or Bangkok, an ultra-compact urban electric car is great. They’re so tiny that they fit in the smallest parking space, they’re quiet, they’re often exempt from congestion charges and they’re tailpipe emission free, which is important if you live where the air is so dirty that it’s visible. Unfortunately, they also have all the boot space of a glove box and the travel radius of a tortoise in a hurry. Unless you have the ideal lifestyle that allows you to work within the vehicle’s limitations, there will come the time when you’ll need to carry more than a messenger bag or drive farther than a single battery charge. When that happens, you’ll probably wish you had some way to magically add an extra boot or a bigger battery. Rinspeed‘s Dock+Go concept car looks forward to a day when that may be possible.
Teaser shots of the Dock+Go emerged late last year, but as its appearance at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show approaches more details and images have emerged. One thing is certain – it won’t be too hard to pick out of the crowd. The Dock+Go will be the ultra-compact with six wheels. That’s not quite true. It’s more accurate to say that it has four wheels, but when it needs to, it has six. The reason for this is to provide a way to have your automotive cake and eat it.
Having a minimalist, super-economical electric car and still being able to take longer trips or carry more stuff doesn’t necessarily mean having two cars. Nor does it mean hauling around a lot of extra car all the time on the off chance that you’ll need it once in a while. Instead, the Dock+Go concept makes all that surplus car detachable. Need more cargo space? Need a bigger battery? Don’t get a bigger car, just bolt what you need on when you need it. As Rinspeed CEO Frank M. Rinderknecht put it in a recent press release, “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.”
The Dock+Go achieves this by designing a car (in this case, one based on a Smart car) that can accept a sort of module or pack with its own axle that bolts onto the rear. The module mates to the car in such a way that it looks like a metal bustle, or as if someone had grabbed the hatchback by its rear door and pulled very, very hard.
The module, which is seen as being purchased or hired by the car owner, comes in two versions: cargo and power. Either way, the modules aren’t very big. At only two-feet long (61 cm) overall, there’s not much room. The publicity photos supplied by Rinspeed portrayed the Dock+Go doing duty as a pizza delivery vehicle, as suitable for people going on a skiing holiday or as a portable disco, but given that the Dock+Go is intended as an electric car and the cargo version doesn’t bring any extra power with it, these seem a bit on the optimistic side.
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