GM has filed a patent application for an electrically-assisted flatbed trailer that would offset the reduction in range when towing for battery-electric trucks.
This GM patent filing has been assigned application number US 2022/0126714 A1 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and was published on April 28th, 2022. It’s titled “battery electric vehicle assisted towing concept” and lists Michigan-based engineers Norman K. Bucknor, Madhusudan Raghavan and Venkata Prasad Althuri as the inventors.
This patent describes a system to “extend the towing range and maneuverability,” of a car or truck during towing operation. The system includes a powered trailer with at least one small electric propulsion unit, which “enhances launch of the BEV and provides an acceleration assist,” to the vehicle. A communication link between the trailer and vehicle would ensure the trailer’s electric-assist powertrain would work in unison with the vehicle to optimize range and performance. The trailer would have its own separate battery pack, so in theory, this design would offset some of the range reduction EV drivers experience when towing.
The patent application also describes a dual-motor version of the trailer with opposing electric motors, which would be able to spin each of the trailer’s wheels at different speeds when turning, resulting in a tighter turning radius and greater maneuverability. A trailer such as this on a Chevy Silverado EV with four-wheel-steer would theoretically be much more maneuvrable than a comparable truck without these technologies.
GM also recently filed a patent application for a hitch angle determination system for vehicles equipped with four-wheel-steer, which would allow for Chevy and GMC trucks with four-wheel-steer to use tech such as steering assistance and screen guidelines when towing a trailer. With a trailer design like that described in the patent, along with a hitch angle determination system, future GM electric trucks could offer impressive maneuverability when towing.