Along with the ever-persistent problem of range anxiety, one of the things that keeps many people from taking electric cars seriously is the limited number of charging stations. What happens if your destination doesn't have one, or if you have to park your car out on the street when you're at home? In the case of some electric scooters and bicycles, users can remove the vehicle's battery and take it with them to charge indoors. Now, Italian automaker Estrima is offering that same feature in its Birò electric car.
Although the Birò is unheard-of in much of the world, the tiny two-seater has been selling in Italy and other European countries for several years now. It has two brushless 48-volt in-wheel electric motors (in the rear) that take it to a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph), although its Boost feature allows it to temporarily go faster when needed.
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Buyers have so far been able to choose between lead, lithium-ion and higher-capacity "Lithium Maxi" batteries, none of which were designed for quick removal. Now, however, Estrima has added the option of a lithium-ion Re-Move battery.
Like the car's already-available lithium battery, it provides approximately 40 km (25 miles) of driving range, and can be charged in four hours. Unlike that battery, however, the Re-Move has wheels and is mounted on a track, so it can be easily slid out through a hatch in the back of the vehicle once it's parked. No wires or plugs need to be detached.
Once it's out, the 26-lb (12-kg) battery's telescopic handle can be extended, allowing the user to pull it along like a suitcase. It can then be charged from a regular electrical outlet. That said, it's also possible to charge the battery while it's still in the car.
Besides making charging a simpler matter, the Re-Move system also lets users instantly swap in a freshly-charged battery for one that's depleted – something that could come in handy for rental or car-sharing applications. Additionally, a car with no battery is going to be pretty difficult to steal.
The basic battery-less Birò sells for €7,990 (US$10,626) in European countries other than Italy, where it goes for €6,990. Batteries start at €1,490 ($1,982) for the lead option, although the lithium-ion Re-Move will cost you €3,990 ($5,307) – so the total price for a Re-Move-equipped Birò adds up to €11,980 ($15,934).
The car can be seen in action in the video below.