82nd Geneva Motor Show 2012 Rinspeed presents “Dock+Go”

Feb 20, 2012
Author: Evgeniy Sherstobitov
Photos: Rinspeed
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Rinspeed presents “Dock+Go” mobility system at the Geneva Motor Show: Backpacks on Wheels for Electric Vehicles.

“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!” - No, Swiss automotive visionary Frank M. Rinderknecht isn’t hiring out as an experienced travel consultant these days who has seen much of the world. Rather the man from Zumikon near Zurich is simply pointing out that usually all of us automatically do the right thing when we move around: we lug around as little ballast and unnecessary items as possible. And it is precisely this from an economic and ecological standpoint sensible behavior that Rinderknecht echoes with his new concept car “Dock+Go” on two and sometimes three axles. The concept will be on display for hands-on inspection at the Geneva Motor Show, 2012.

It is specifically this third on-demand axle that is the crucial point of the modular mobility system the Rinspeed boss has devised. “Dock+Go” was built - in the traditional sense - by Peter Kägi and his company 4erC. The concept draws its irresistible charm from easy-to-dock single-axle “backpacks on wheels.”  These so-called “packs” carry out their assigned tasks depending on current need. But the best thing is: they cleverly solve the much-debated operating range problem that electric vehicles suffer from. Neither unnecessary space nor superfluous weight is being transported. This truly creates “mobility à la carte."

Any electrified city speedster could serve as the basis for “Dock+Go.” For demonstration purposes Rinderknecht selected a two-seat smart car as the basis. Different “packs” can turn the electric flea into the dream car of every pizza delivery driver - complete with a built-in isothermal box. Or they allow winter sports enthusiasts to comfortably stow their gear. In Geneva Rinspeed will furthermore show off a rolling “sound pack” which multimedia and infotainment specialist Harman has filled with the latest high-end sound solutions in order to guarantee a first class acoustical experience.

Yes, this car truly always saves the best for last: and in this case it is a generous helping of operating range if the 100 kilometers that are usually on tap in electric vehicles simply are not enough. An “energy pack,” fitted with a range extender or additional batteries, powered by a fuel cell or equipped with a combustion engine, provides the crucial extra kilometers to reach more distant destinations. The simple and equally clever trick of the latter is: the docked third axle drives the rotating second axle and in doing so also recharges the on-board batteries of the city speedster. The world’s first Variohybrid - as Frank M. Rinderknecht calls his range donor - is born. And to top it all off: when the pack with auxiliary batteries is docked and the vehicle is not in use, the pack will even provide electricity to the owner’s private residence or serve as a buffer for the public energy grid, in effect turning it into a “smart grid.”

The interior is dominated by black and red. The high-tech Schoeller yarns have strong natural thermoregulation, good insulation and a high capacity for absorbing moisture. They keep comfortably warm in winter and remain pleasantly cool in summer.  Premium automotive textile manufacturer Gaenslen&Völter spun them into soft, supple upholstery that provides that special feel-good factor. And wherever plastics are used, it is in the form of high-grade man-made materials, such as the creatively and stylishly embossed synthetic leather that is supplied by Hornschuch, a specialist in this field. The transparent roof and its distinctive grass inlays - as well as a number of other interior materials - were contributed by Studer. The view ahead is dominated by a 12.1-inch monitor. It belongs to the multimedia equipment and is part of the intelligent infotainment system developed from Harman. The platform features the latest integration technologies for smart phones, adaptive navigation and the cloud-based Aha-platform with a flexible Human Machine Interface (HMI) and gesture control in order to bring digital contents intuitively, easy and safely into the car.    This gesture-controlled system makes operation of the contents child’s play and the four cameras integrated into the vehicle body make dents from parking maneuvers things of the past.

Also brand-new is the steering wheel from the German-Japanese Takata Corporation with integrated “parking space” for a smartphone, which serves as a second monitor when docked. This is made possible these days by a driver airbag that thanks to vacuum technology requires reduced installation space.
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