What if the trailer that you hauled behind your vehicle wasn't just a drag on your mileage and, instead, acted as a sort of power-booster source to help you get better mileage? At a pretty high level, that's the promise of a new piece of automotive technology being prototyped by Electric Motors and Vehicle Co (EMAV).
The greentech company, based in Wakarusa, Ind., has just revealed it is developing and testing something that it calls the Power Regeneration Unit (aka PRU), which could hit the market by the second half of 2011. A prototype could be available by the first quarter of 2011, according to the company.
EMAV Founder and President Wil Cashen says the technology is an evolution of the Mopar - Jeep Off Road Camper/Trailer series that it has been selling through Chrysler dealers across North America.
Here's what PRU looks like.
Cashen says PRU, which will (hopefully) carry a price tag of around $15,000, attaches to the back of an electric vehicle providing it with enough electricity to help extend the range. PRU itself runs off a gasoline-powered engine in order to create the electricity and you can think of PRU like a mobile battery booster that kicks in as necessary to provide a boost. Only this battery booster happens to be about eight feet long. "We tap into the existing battery management system and trick the car into thinking it is being powered," he says.
Cashen envisions the PRU being used by "active" families that want to take their cars on much longer trips than are currently possible with many electric vehicles. PRU should work with virtually any electric vehicle, provided you have the right kit to install it. In the press release announcing the new technology, he notes: "Our goal is to move the marketplace beyond the first generation of electric vehicles to more power and rugged cars that also have endurance. This will evolve the electric car paradigm from a supplemental to a primary car for consumers."
What it doesn't say in the press release, but what Cashen and his team are hoping for out of the technology is that it could extend the range to one to 700 miles. As you might expect, the first place the unit is likely to be sold is in California, Cashen says.