**The Energy Management Module claims it can "rejuvenate a battery" somehow.**
The District of Columbia has signed a $680,000 contract for an impossible-sounding gadget that claims to increase the range of an electric vehicle by 60 percent. The contract was signed in May, but it mostly slipped under the radar until it was picked up by WUSA9 this month.
The gadget in question is called an Energy Management Module, and it's made by a company called Mullen, which has recently been acquiring struggling electric vehicle startups like Bollinger and Electric Last Mile Solutions. In April, Mullen published a press release claiming that fitting the EMM gadget to one of the company's prototype cargo vans "showed more than a 75 percent increase in range for the 42-kWh lithium-ion battery pack."
DC's Department of Public Works became aware of the EMM device at last year's Washington Auto Show, according to WUSA9. "We have been investigating new technology that would extend their life, make us work more efficiently, and keep our maintenance expenses down," the department told the news channel.
The DC government owns more than 100 Chevrolet Bolt EVs as part of its fleet, some of which are used for duties like parking enforcement. It has fitted 40 Bolts with EMM devices at a staggering cost of $14,000 per vehicle, plus an additional $3,000 per EV for "data monitoring."
The device's inventor, Lawrence Hardge, claims that it works by "rejuvenating the battery," which sounds as close to a load of nonsense as I've heard in some time, given the relatively advanced nature of the Bolt's battery management system and the ease with which one can check the battery's health.
WUSA9 found reason to be skeptical of Hardge's claims—which include allegedly being nominated for a Nobel Prize by the University of Michigan—thanks to a fraud conviction in 2001.
There's a pretty long history of bogus gadgets promising ludicrously unrealistic increases in efficiency. From magnets that wrap around your fuel line to a "voltage stabilizer" you plug into a 12 V socket, none have ever actually worked because they invariably defy the laws of physics. Unfortunately, relying on the naïvety of your customers has always been a good way to get paid.
In the case of those internal combustion engine-focused frauds, at least they kept their claims somewhat plausible, usually promising efficiency increases of 10–20 percent. But Mullen's EMM simply defies belief with claims of a 60 percent boost.
Needless to say, it appears that the DC government has been taken for a ride here. Thankfully, someone somewhere down the line was awake—the contract states that DC will only pay the $680,000 once all 40 units have been shown to be working.