A French startup called EP Tender has a new solution to a relatively new problem. This smart startup is offering a range extending trailer to haul behind your electric car. It plans to roll out along traditional holiday travel routes with a fleet of 60 kWh battery trailers. The Renault Zoe, an inexpensive city electric popular in Europe, will get another 560-ish kilometres of range on top of its standard 190 kilometres with the EP Tender attached. Each trailer rental will cost no more than $US37 ($56).
European travel destinations are traditionally much closer to home, as 760 kilometres is potentially several countries away, depending on where you start. That’s not an insignificant number for most Europeans. To put that in perspective, the trailer allows a Londoner to make the run to the Nürburgring without having to stop for a top up, and still have enough juice to go for a lap or two.
The trend in electric cars, particularly in Europe and Asia, is for compact EVs with smaller battery packs. This has a dual effect of reducing the cost of the car, and reducing the environmental impact of production. By dealing with a shorter range, these compact EV owners have a smaller environmental footprint. In a large percentage of their driving needs, the 190 kilometre range of a Zoe is enough for their day-to-day. EP Tender wants to allow those same drivers the ability to extend their driving range for the small percentage of driving instances where they need it.
EP Tender initially started with the idea of holding a gasoline range extender in the trailer to turn EVs into series hybrids, even going so far as to roll out a 20-trailer pilot program for Renault Zoes and Kangoos, according to Automotive News. But, because the prices of batteries are coming down so rapidly, the company has decided to pivot to battery trailers instead.
If this seems antithetical to you, it’s because American’s purchase vehicles based on fringe use cases. Do you need to tow a boat twice a year? Buy a F250 Super Duty. Do you occasionally need to bring more than one child to school at a time? It’s 3-row SUV time. Do you sometimes drive a few hundred miles away for vacation? Surely an EV won’t have the range you need. Diesel it is.
The genius of this idea is that it allows car purchases to be more pragmatic and realistic. Why buy more range than you need on a daily basis if you can simply rent more range?
The downside to this idea is the need to haul around a dorky-looking trailer, but that’s a small price to pay. It’s nowhere near as streamlined as our own Jason Torchinsky’s Trunk Battery idea. That’s practically seamless!