Range extender (vehicle)

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"Range extender" redirects here. For devices that extend wireless networks, see wireless repeater.
Electric car with an external range-extender or genset trailer.

Range extender is an auxiliary power unit built-in or externally attached to a all-electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to increase its all-electric range (AER). The most commonly used range extenders are internal combustion engines that drive an electric generator which in turn supplies the battery and electric motor with electricity. The range extender can also be powered by a fuel-cell or other energy sources. The range autonomy is one of the main barriers for the commercial success of electric vehicles, and extending the vehicle's range when the battery is depleted helps alleviate range anxiety concerns.[1] Plug-in hybrids with a built-in range extender unit, such as the Chevrolet Volt, are also known as extended-range electric vehicles (EREV);[2][3] and electric cars with a range-extender unit, such as the BMW i3 with such unit, are called range-extended battery-electric vehicle (BEVx) by the California Air Resources Board.[4]


CARB regulation[edit]

According to 2012 Amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle Regulations adopted in March 2012 by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a range-extended battery-electric vehicle, designated as BEVx, should comply, among others, with the following criteria:[4]

ICE range extender[edit]

The technology for the ICE range extender is commonly used in marine (autonomous underwater vehicle), aircraft and Generator/Utility, automotive[6] and hybrid electric vehicle range extender applications.[7]

Access to a regular fuel station guarantees that a PHEV has similar driving ranges as conventional gasoline-powered automobile when required.[8][9][10]

Unmanned aerial vehicles[edit]

The 2010 Wolverine 3 program included an ICE range extender for its unmanned aerial vehicle.[11]


Chevrolet Volt[edit]

The Chevrolet Volt is a series plug-in hybrid referred by General Motors as "an electric car with extended range."

General Motors describes the Chevrolet Volt as an electric vehicle equipped with a "range extending" gasoline powered internal combustion engine (ICE) as a genset and therefore dubbed the Volt an "Extended Range Electric Vehicle" or E-REV.[2][3][12] In a January 2011 interview, the Chevy Volt's Global Chief Engineer, Pamela Fletcher, referred to the Volt as "an electric car with extended range."[13] The Volt operates as a purely electric car for the first 25 to 50 miles (40 to 80 km) in charge-depleting mode. When the battery capacity drops below a pre-established threshold from full charge, the vehicles enters charge-sustaining mode, and the Volt's control system will select the most optimally efficient drive mode to improve performance and boost high-speed efficiency.[2][14][15]

According to General Motors' real time tally of miles driven by Volt owners in North America, by mid June 2014 they have accumulated more than 500 million all-electric miles (805 million km). GM also reported that Volt owners are doing more than 63% of their overall driving in all-electric mode, and among Volt owners who charge regularly, they typically drive more than 970 mi (1,560 km) between fill-ups and visit the gasoline station less than once a month.[16]

BMW i3[edit]

An optional range-extender is available for the BMW i3, which allows the car to qualify as a range-extended battery-electric vehicle (BEVx) according to the California Air Resources Board regulations.

BMW i offers the BMW i3 all-electric car with an optional gasoline-powered range extender engine added.[17] The range extender is powered by the same 647 cc two-cylinder gasoline engine used in the BMW C650 GT motorcycle with a 9 L (2.0 imp gal; 2.4 US gal) fuel tank. The range extender engine only engages when the battery level drops to a pre-specified point, acting purely as a generator to produce electricity to extend the range from 130 to 160 km (80 to 100 mi) to 240 to 300 km (150 to 190 mi)[18][19] The i3 performance in range-extending mode may be more limited than when it is running on battery power, as BMW clarified that the range extender is designed not for long-distance travel but purely as an emergency backup to keep the electric system going until the next recharging location.[20]

The range-extender option costs an additional US$3,850 in the United States,[21] an additional €4,710 (~ US$6,300) in France,[22] and €4,490 (~ US$6,000) in the Netherlands.[23]

The range-extender option of the BMW i3 was designed to meet the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulation for an auxiliary power unit (APU) called REx. According to rules adopted in March 2012 by CARB, the 2014 BMW i3 with a REx unit fitted will be the first car to qualify as a range-extended battery-electric vehicle or "BEVx." CARB describes this type of electric vehicle as "a relatively high-electric range battery-electric vehicle (BEV) to which an APU is added." The APU, which maintains battery charge at about 30% after the pack has been depleted in normal use, is strictly limited in the additional range it can provide.[4]


Schematic classification of alternative powertrains

Hybrid vehicles are vehicles with two or more power sources in the powertrain. There are many different types of hybrid vehicles with a hybrid vehicle drivetrain.

Parallel hybrid and series-parallel hybrid[edit]

Parallel hybrids and series-parallel hybrids operate most of the time in blended mode while charge-depleting. Because the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid operates as a series-parallel hybrid, the U.S. EPA estimated its all-electric range for blended operation on a combination of electricity (from a fully charged battery pack) and gasoline as 11 mi (18 km) until the battery is depleted.[24][25] Other plug-in hybrids that operated mostly in blended mode are the Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Fusion Energi and Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid.[26]

Series hybrid[edit]

On the other hand, series hybrids are also been referred to as extended-range electric vehicles (EREV) or range-extended electric vehicles (REEV), in case they are designed to be run mostly by the battery, but have a gasoline or diesel generator to recharge the battery when going on long trips. The Chevrolet Volt, Fisker Karma and the upcoming Cadillac ELR are series plug-in hybrids.[26][27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Electric vehicles with range extender as a suitable technology
  2. ^ a b c Matthe, Roland; Eberle, Ulrich (2014-01-01). "The Voltec System - Energy Storage and Electric Propulsion". Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
  3. ^ a b "Chevrolet Volt Hits Road, Ahead of Schedule". The New York Times. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  4. ^ a b c John Voelcker (2013-10-23). "2014 BMW i3 Electric Car: Why California Set Range Requirements, Engine Limits". Green Car Reports. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  5. ^ Range Extenders for Electric Vehicles Land, Water & Air 2012-2022
  6. ^ Electric vehicle and range extender
  7. ^ The ideal range extender
  8. ^ Michael Graham Richard (2009-10-14). "Could Range Anxiety Sabotage the Promise of Electric Cars?". Discovery's Planet Green. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  9. ^ "Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)". Center for Energy and the Global Environment, Virginia Tech. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  10. ^ "What Is A Plug-in Hybrid Car?". HybridCars.com. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  11. ^ Secrets of Ricardo’s new UAV engine may spawn range-extender for EVs
  12. ^ Jonathan Oosting (2010-10-12). "Is the Chevrolet Volt a true electric car? General Motors defends EV label". MLive.com. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  13. ^ Kuchment, Anna (January 2011). "Practically Green: A Q&A with the Chevy Volt's Chief Engineer". Scientific American 304 (1) (Nature America). p. 25. ISSN 0036-8733. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 
  14. ^ Norman Mayersohn (2010-10-15). "Sorting Myth From Fact as Volt Makes Its Debut". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  15. ^ Frank Markus (2010-10-10). "Unbolting the Chevy Volt to See How it Ticks". Motor Trend. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  16. ^ "Chevrolet Volt Owners Surpass Half a Billion Electric Miles" (Press release). US: General Motors. 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2014-07-02. 
  17. ^ Viknesh Vijayenthiran (2010-07-20). "First Major Outing For BMW Megacity Vehicle At 2012 London Olympic Games". Motor Authority. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  18. ^ Jay Cole (2013-07-29). "BMW i3 Range Extender To Offer Up to 87 More Miles, Decreases Performance". InsideEVs.com. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  19. ^ Greg Kable (2013-02-24). "First rides in BMW i8 hybrid sportscar and all-electric i3". Autocar. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  20. ^ John Voelcker (2013-03-12). "BMW i3 Electric Car: ReX Range Extender Not For Daily Use?". Green Car Reports. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  21. ^ Benjamin Preston (2013-07-29). "BMW Unveils i3 Electric Car". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  22. ^ Michaël Torregrossa (2013-07-30). "Voiture électrique - La BMW i3 officiellement révélée" [Electric car - the BMW i3 officially revealed] (in French). Association pour l'Avenir du Véhicule Electrique Méditerranéen (AVEM). Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  23. ^ Eric Loveday (2013-07-22). "Official: BMW i3 Range Extender Option Adds 4,490 Euros ($5,919 US) to Price Tag in Netherlands". InsideEVs.com. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  24. ^ John Voelcker (2012-03-13). "2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In: Parsing The EPA Efficiency Sticker". Green Car Reports. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  25. ^ Toyota News Release (2012-02-28). "Prius Plug-In eligibile for a $1,500 California consumer incentive plus $2,500 Federal tax credit". Green Car Congress. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  26. ^ a b Eric Loveday (2013-02-06). "Frost & Sullivan Predicts Boom in Extended-Range Electric Vehicles". PluginCars.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  27. ^ Sam Abuelsamid (2009-04-02). "What is a series hybrid/extended range electric vehicle?". Autoblog Green. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  28. ^ John Voelcker (2012-03-13). "2012 Fisker Karma -Review". Green Car Reports. Retrieved 2013-08-11.