Portable Power for Electric Cars
The EP Tender may someday assuage your range anxiety
One of the factors that keeps electric vehicles from wide adoption is range anxiety. Though battery technologies have come a long way in the last decade, with 100 miles on a charge being common and Teslas easily topping 200 miles, people still want to know they can take off on a family vacation or a weekend away. Road trip!
A French company has a cute solution to this problem: EP Tender, a generator housed in a little two-wheeled trailer pulled by your EV. It’s just over 4 feet long and over 400 pounds, which seems like a lot for an EV to pull. (The Renault Zoe shown in the demo videos is not rated for towing, by the way.)
That might seem like a heavy piece of equipment to tow behind an EV, but the idea isn’t to tow a generator behind your car all day every day. It’s meant to be a range extender that owners can rent for longer trips. It’s even got a rack on top for your extra gear or vacation luggage. The company is also planning on making both gasoline-fueled and fuel-cell versions of the generator so drivers can choose between easy convenience and eco-friendliness.
You’re probably wondering how you’d park this thing, but EP Tender has already thought of that and engineered their way out of the problem. The EV pulls into a parking space with the EP Tender and inches to spare. Then, to leave the space, the EP Tender deploys its secondary set of smaller wheels and lifts the larger rear wheels off the ground. They can then track with the car as it backs up. When the driver is ready to drive forward, the EP Tender puts its regular wheels down and lifts that secondary set up, and it’s ready to go. This wheel design is actually the subject of the EP Tender’s patent.
Like lots of new automotive technologies, the EP Tender has a chicken-and-egg problem. Its creators hope having a rentable pull-along generator will boost EV sales, but they also need enough current EV owners to express interest to convince someone to develop a rental network for these things. They particularly would like a network in the Americas, where the roads are long and the road trips epic.