I was browsing the internet today when I happened upon an interesting user comment at hybridcars.com. It didn’t really have much to do with the article, which was about the accusation of Nicolas Sarcozy being too electric car friendly (Nothing wrong with that!). But it was a fascinatingly simple idea:
“they should develope (sic) an all electric car for in town use. then a small trailer with a gas electric generator for the few times long distance is needed. this generic trailer could power different brands of cars. could be shared between a number of people. could be rented.”
What he is describing is a genset trailer and it isn’t a completely new idea. Here is a full description:
A genset trailer is a range extending device for use with battery electric vehicles consisting of an internal combustion engine and an electrical generator (collectively called a genset). They run on traditional fuels such as gasoline or diesel and are sized to provide the continuous power requirements for the vehicle they are used with. Most small to midsized passenger vehicles would require 15 to 20 kW for unlimited freeway travel as long as fuel were available. Larger vehicles could require 30 kW or more of power depending on how heavy and/or un-aerodynamic they happen to be.
One such trailer is the AC Propulsion backtracking Long Ranger range extending gas fueled trailer, making it a gas-electric series plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. This trailer used a 500 cc Kawasaki engine with a 9.5 gallons (40 liter) fuel tank and achieved 30 to 35 mpg (6.72 to 7.84 litres/100 km). It’s rated at 20 kW DC output and can maintain 60 to 80 mph (95 to 128 km/h). -Wikipedia, Genset trailer
I feel this concept is not tossed around enough. A gas powered electric generator on a trailer would not be expensive. We have a surplus of old, small combustion engines in our salvage yards. And one could be shared within an entire neighborhood for family trips. It could easily be provided by a rental service too. The only downside would be the added weight creating additional draw on the battery.