Carmakers are constantly coming up with new innovations to advance the automobile. But, let's face it: most of them are rather evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. That's why, every once in a while, the auto industry needs some creative out-of-the-box thinking. And that's where Frank M. Rinderknecht comes in.

The brain behind Rinspeed never fails to raise some eyebrows with his innovative twists on the automobile which he invariably unveils at the annual Geneva Motor Show. And here we have this year's debut.

Called the Dock+Go mobility concept, the Rinspeed design provides an interesting approach to a modern problem: While city cars (like the Smart ForTwo upon which this concept is based) may be a practical solution for those living in crowded cities, they don't offer the kind of capacity needed for longer trips. Rinspeed's solution isn't to make the city car bigger, but to make it expandable with a third set of wheels and an extended cargo box.

The resulting appendage not only gives drivers some extra space for hauling what they've got, it also offers extra battery capacity. Plus, the rear wheels recharge the battery pack, giving the industry more to think about when it comes to extending the range – and space – of electric vehicles.
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Rinspeed presents sophisticated "Dock+Go" mobility concept at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show

"Take 3!"

Everybody has two axles. Why not simply take three of them instead of two - but only if you need them! It is that third axle with two wheels that is the key feature of the innovative modular mobility system from Swiss automotive visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht. "Dock+Go" is the name the bustling Swiss has given to his sophisticated mobility concept, which he will present March 8 through 18 at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. The idea's irresistible charm lies in the docking "backpacks on wheels." These single-axle "packs" serve a variety of purposes depending on the requirements of the day. They also solve the much-discussed operating range problem of electric vehicles in a clever way. The ingenious twist: neither unneeded space nor superfluous weight is carried along if they are truly not needed.

Any electric city car could serve as the basis for "Dock+Go." For demonstration purposes Rinspeed boss Rinderknecht turned his attention to the two-seated smart. A wide variety of "packs" turn the electric-powered mini car into the dream car of any pizza delivery driver – complete with an integrated heated box. For craftsmen there is a toolbox pack with well-organized spaces for every tool. And after the day's work is done the shared or owned camping, golf, skiing, beach or party pack is docked to the rear of the mini-mobile.

Yes, this car truly saves the best for last: and in this case it is ample operating range when the 120 kilometers that are typically available just aren't enough. An "energy pack" with a combustion engine or range extender, packed with batteries or powered by a fuel cell, provides the decisive added range for reaching more distant destinations. The equally simple and clever trick: the docked third axle drives the rotating second axle and thus recharges the on-board battery of the city car. And thus the first Vario-Hybrid, as Frank M. Rinderknecht refers to his range donor, is born. In the garage at home the batteries of the energy pack are recharged with solar power from the roof, making living and driving without any CO2 emissions a reality.

Plenty of good and creative solutions for a brighter future mobility. Take 3 instead of 2 - and who came up with it? A Swiss, who else?

The partners and suppliers in the realization of the „Dock+Go" are:

4erC GmbH -
AEZ Leichtmetallräder GmbH -
AkzoNobel Car Refinishes -
A.T. Kearney Global Management Consultants -
Carl F. Bucherer -
Continental Automotive Switzerland -
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Germany GmbH -
HARMAN International, Inc. -
Helveting Engineering AG -
J. Eberspächer GmbH & Co. KG -
Konrad Hornschuch AG -
Lumitec AG -
Prevent Gaenslen & Völter GmbH -
Schoeller GmbH & CoKG -
SEW-Eurodrive GmbH & Co KG -
Takata-Petri AG -
Zürich Versicherung -

Special thanks to:

GoodCom -
Vollmond Werbeagentur -

Forward-Looking Statements - This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by the Rinspeed management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Neil Blanchard
      • 3 Years Ago
      My question is about steering -- how do the rear-most wheels work with full-lock turns? Years ago, I saw a "papoose" type trailer a lot like this one, and it had a single wheel in the center, that was on a caster. And there was an EV a few years ago that had a simple way to have passive rear wheel steering i.e. the rear wheels track the turn so you don't have to drive it any differently. Neil
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        I have a tandem axle trailer about like this has, and the rear most wheels on a sharp turn just slide across the ground. On a car this size will ake it very hard turning.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would like to see them remove the middle set of wheels* and put half covers over the wheel wells. It will cut down on friction, and look like a small pickup. There should be this model right from the factory as well. *I'm assuming it is a front wheel drive car.
        Neil Blanchard
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Smart ForTwo is rear wheel drive, and I believe the EV is, as well. Neil
        • 3 Years Ago
        This is meant to be a "snap-on" addition or called docking in order to add the extra storage and range. Therefore removing the middle axel is not a viable aftermarket option. I do agree that making it bigger into a small pickup is a good idea. This is an interesting idea if it is possible.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is a Hybrid Adapter:
      • 3 Years Ago
      Brilliant idea! I always thought that an extra battery could be hauled around with a generator if needed.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Any time you transfer energy, you lose some of it. Having the extender push the car while the car is regenerating would be quite less efficient than just pushing the car without regeneration. You would not be charging the main battery, in the end of the trip the total charge left would be greater. You would not want to do this unless the end goal was to transfer the charge from trailer battery to main battery with some loss.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The idea of adding a trailer full of batteries to an EV in order to extend its range on occasion is not new. People don't do this because the batteries are the most expensive part of an EV, and that would be one expensive trailer for the occasional longer trip.
        Neil Blanchard
        • 3 Years Ago
        You could rent it from the dealer for longer trips? Neil
        • 3 Years Ago
        Not to mention the added weight of the other batteries on the car motors would make them work much harder using alot of extra power. If you got 80 miles from the stock batteries with even an empty trailer you might get 60 miles out of them.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yah, yah - smart for two, but dumb for most. This is not revolutionary - it is revisionary. If you believe this to be a new concept then I propose you look up the 1989 Chrysler Voyager III concept. It truly pioneered the modular concept with a 1.6L propane engine in the main unit and a larger 2.4L engine in the rear unit. Although it's not an EV, it did pioneer the small, efficient short range car with a range extending disconnectable rear unit. Don't get me wrong, anything to advance the EV/alternate fuel cause is great, but let's give credit where credit is due. "Borrowing from Chrysler's Voyager III concept..." should be in the article somewhere. BTW, I don't even like Chryslers on a whole, just completeness in reporting.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh, yah - The GM ultralite concept from 1992 also played with this concept.
      Actionable Mango
      • 3 Years Ago
      Isn't the Smart petrol-powered?
      • 3 Years Ago
      How cool... Hey electric type people...question: Let's take this concept a bit further...let us apply this to any trailer. Could i, for example, have a trailer for my boat that, assuming my truck was electric, could charge the truck while towing the boat. I know I would not have perpetual motin machine, but could this be done as the extra weight would not counter act the additional miles from the charging feature?
        • 3 Years Ago
        While the press release is short on schematics, this is not a perpetual motion machine. If you read the release its only if the third axle is fitted with a range extending motor that will you be able to charge the battery (parasitically mind) from pushing the second axle, and using the electrics in reverse as a generator. In such a fashion, a trailered range extender, this is not a new idea but quite practical as you don't have to lug the ICE in town when you don't want it.
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