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27 February 2012

Four wheels not enough? Rinspeed’s Dock+Go concept has six. Or...

Words by Niky Tamayo | Photos courtesy of Rinspeed Inc.
 
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Rinspeed may build little else besides their outrageous concepts, but their yearly appearance at the Geneva Auto Show keeps them in the limelight, if not always for the right reasons. Frank Rinderknecht’s newest vision, however, deserves recognition for tackling the electric car problem in a unique and very stylish way with the expandable Dock+Go concept.
 
While the 2002 Rinspeed Presto Concept was also an expandable, multi-use vehicle, the Dock+Go takes it a step further. As Rinderknecht notes, since you don’t take an empty steamer trunk with you when you’re not travelling far, why should you carry around all that empty cargo space when you don’t need it? Instead of a fixed trunk, the Dock+Go has what Rinspeed refers to as “backpacks on wheels.”
 
The Dock+Go concept is based around an electric runabout built on the diminuitive SMART ForTwo platform. As the concept suggests, dockable rear extensions are tacked on to the main car to extend its usefulness. These include an insulated pizza delivery, a cargo, and a dockable Harman audio sound station.
 
More interestingly, since the Dock+Go is electric, these backpacks open up the possibility of swappable range extenders. The base vehicle’s small battery pack is big enough for short-distance commuting, but for long-distance driving, a Variohybrid backpack with additional battery space help extend the vehicle's range.
 
Better yet, the Variohybrid pack can be combined with other packs, making the Dock+Go more useful and flexible. Besides the backpacks, the Dock+Go also features such tech-heavy features as temperature regulating fabrics and synthetics, an intelligent user interface with advanced connectivity, inductive battery charging, and lightweight composite construction.
 
While the chances of this concept becoming a production model are remote, it will be interesting to see what influence it has on electric vehicles of the future.
 
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