A French startup reckons it has solved the problem of EV range anxiety with a mobile charging station. Technically, it’s a trailer holding a secondary battery pack that can keep the on-board battery topped up.
Creator EP Tender is positioning the system to give EVs with shorter ranges the ability to make longer road trips without having to stop frequently to charge.
The French company wants to offer the trailer as a rental rather than an outright purchase, via banks of rentable trailers on major holiday routes, charging around NZ$60 per trailer. Drivers would pull up to a station, clip on the trailer and drive off a minute later.
The company says the price will allow a profit to be turned by 2024, with 60,000 customers renting 4150 trailers. Each trailer costs just under NZ$17,400 to make.
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At the moment, the trailers use a 36.5kWh battery pack but EP Tender wants to increase the power to 60kWh in five years.
Intriguingly, EP Tender also has what it calls an “ICE Tender” currently out testing with pilot users, which essentially turns an EV into a PHEV by adding a small petrol generator into the battery trailer set up for even greater distances.
The companys says the cars are electric 98 per cent of the time and become hybrid for long distance trips (which it estimates at 2 per cent of the time) and that the annual average consumption using the system regularly is just 0.5L/100km.
As well as positioning it as a rental system for occasional use by EV owners, EP Tender as plans top offer it as a roadside rescue service for EV’s out of juice.
As an inventive stop-gap until larger, cheaper battery systems come along the system has merit, particularly for longer distances across Europe.
However it does seem to have one potential flaw that the company plays down – it would seem to require a special proprietary connector to be installed at the rear of the car to connect the trailer’s battery to the car’s electrical system.
This may be a bit more complicated than a traditional tow bar arrangement, because it involves tapping into an EV’s charging system as well.
But the connector is also used for one of EP Tender’s other clever inventions – an automated backing system that drops down a set of small secondary wheels when reverse is engaged, allowing the trailer to steer itself, something that will no doubt help alleviate the other anxiety the system replaces range anxiety with – that of backing a trailer…
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