The German ebuggy (it’s lowercase for some reason) is a slick idea. Affordable electric cars have one Achilles heel – range anxiety. Periodicals and television shows have galvanized the perception that you will run out of juice in the middle of a demilitarized zone or have to wait painfully long periods of time to charge up. Forget about long distance trips – they are the domain for those who can afford a Tesla S with the big battery package.
What if you could tow a light rental trailer that plugged into your vehicle and gave you an additional 240 miles?
What we have here is a rather simple idea that has some far-reaching potential. Large countries, like the United States, have massive highways that are dotted with service stations – right? What if, just like renting a propane tank, you could rent one of these little trailers when you are getting low on power and need to cover a lot more distance? According to ebuggy, all you will need is a special towing hitch and a special, prepaid card to get started.
The hitch has a plug-port where you connect the trailer to your electric car. It works like the reverse of plugging in your trailer to your vehicle’s lights. I’m assuming that this will work in the same manner, using your vehicle’s input to trigger its brake-lights. I’m also assuming that it will weigh less than 500 lbs and, thus, not require its own braking system. Keep in mind, that is my assumption.
The ebuggy plan is being subsidized by several German/European and private companies as it’s a real solution for the electric future.
If an idea like this matures, it could lead to a smartphone app that tells you where a ebuggy is available and even sets one aside for you. There is no mention of pricing for the rentals, but they seem to believe it would be cheaper to rent the ebuggy than pay for the equivalent in petrol. That would mean, from the North American perspective, 240 miles from a efficient (40 mpg) gasoline car which is about six-gallons of gasoline. So, in gas-cheap America – the ebuggy rental fee with full electricity – would have to total about $25 to be competitive.
In gas-ridiculously-expensive Europe, it makes even more sense.
Here’s the ebuggy idea in a nutshell:
- “Hitch up an ebuggy trailer at the first highway service station and exploit the electric energy of the ebuggy range extender.
- Return the ebuggy to a service station in your destination area. Drive with your own electric car battery within your destination area.
- ebuggy costs will always be lower than using a gas- or diesel-powered car. Drivers of electric cars no longer require another gas or diesel car.
The ebuggy system
ebuggy is an innovative service for long range travelling with electric cars:
- You will pay for ebuggy only on-demand
- ebuggy costs will always be lower than driving a gas or diesel car.
How does it work?
You’re driving with your electric car in the city or for commuting. Now, you want to make a long range or a highway ride:
- Hitch up an ebuggy trailer at the first highway service station and drive with the electric energy of the ebuggy range extender.
- Redeem ebuggy at a service station in your destination area.
- Drive with your electric car battery in your destination area.
The ebuggy offering
ebuggy is currently establishing a network of exchange stations. Soon, you will be able to travel long distance within Germany and later all over Europe:
- You can register with ebuggy at the purchase of your electric car or at any time later.
- You will receive an ebuggy kit for updating your electric car for ebuggy. The ebuggy kit includes: a standard hitch, a power socket and a display/user interface.
- You will be able to pick up an ebuggy at every ebuggy Station – using your ebuggy Card. The ebuggy fees will automatically be calculated and billed.” – - ebuggy.com
I reviewed the information from ebuggy including the time it took to pull in, rent and hitch up the ebuggy and it looks like it would take the average consumer less than ten minutes to do it. Basically, they approximated the time it takes to fill up an empty gas tank for turn around times getting the trailer. I think that’s a great measure for timing.
Do I think the ebuggy model will work in the United States? Indeed I do. The biggest issue with electric cars is the range and charge-up time. This is an elegantly simple system for a plug-and-play solution.
I’m keeping my eye on this little company and I’ll keep you posted!
Speaking of better solutions for a better planet – check out the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Diesel!
I like this idea people – and so do you.