The Truth About Cars » range-extender The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » range-extender Mazda2 RE May Appear Soon, But Only In Select Markets Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 Mazda-2-Range-Extender1

The oft-rumored Mazda2 RE PHEV, powered by a range-extending rotary engine, may soon become reality, appearing sometime after the next-gen hatch debuts in showrooms between October and the new year. reports the PHEV won’t be making its global debut with the rest of the new Mazda2 family in August, nor will it likely appear in showrooms where government support is lacking, according to Mazda Australia Managing Director Martin Benders:

The only markets in which you can justify bringing something like that out, to get at least a reasonable amount of volume to justify setting it up as a saleable model, are ones where there’s government support for those types of models.

Benders adds that the current crop of Skyactiv engines do a better job of reducing CO2 emissions and boosting fuel economy than the more expensive PHEV technology, with subsidies and sales quotas hindering the case for hybrids in countries where the support isn’t there. However, Benders doesn’t believe government money should be used to promote the technology, preferring the market to decide what lives and what dies.

As for the new-gen Mazda2, which will take its cue from the Kodo design language found in vehicles like the Mazda3 and Mazda6, power will be supplied by a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine and a matching turbo diesel; the latter will likely not make it to the United States when the new compact arrives next year.

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Mercedes-Benz Offers “Range ” For B-Class EV Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:30:29 +0000 mercedes-benz-b-class-ed

Mercedes-Benz is offering a range extender option for the new all-electric B-Class, but it’s not what the name suggests.

The Mercedes-Benz “temporary range extender” is

“A suite of options to further increase your driving range includes added insulation of the doors and roof for to increase climate-control efficiency, along with an electrically heated windshield and a range-extending charge function. By pressing a button on the console prior to charging, the maximum charge level for battery will increased for the next charge cycle. The higher-capacity charge can provide up to 17 additional miles of range…Electric heating of the windshield glass offers quick defogging of the windshield, even on very cold or humid days. Its energy-efficient operation also helps to extend your driving range compared to using the climate control to clear the windshield.”

While the option package is a novel way to maximize available battery capacity, it’s a bit of a misnomer, given that “range extender” is usually given to mean an on-board internal combustion engine that helps increase the driving range of an electric vehicle.


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BMW Partnering With Kymco For i3 Range Extender Tue, 19 Mar 2013 17:58:13 +0000

The gasoline range-extender that will be optional in BMW’s i3 electric car will be built by Kymco, a Taiwanese firm that is best known for its scooters.

BMW and Kymco have worked together in the past, with Kymco building engines for the BMW G450X dirt bike. The two-cylinder motor was designed in Germany but built by Kymco’s Taiwan factory – and the i3 will likely have a similar arrangement, given the familiarity between the firms. The parallel-twin will apparently be given extensively changes for the i3, especially given that the requirements for a motorcycle engine and a range extender being run at a constant load are very different.

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BMW: The Ultimate Range Anxiety Cure? Mon, 25 Feb 2013 19:22:00 +0000

The Tesla vs. New York Times controversy has finally left the news cycle, forgotten in less time than it takes a Model S to juice up at a Supercharger station.  Meanwhile, BMW is ready to introduce its new range of “i” vehicles, which will conveniently dodge the whole question of range anxiety.

Select European outlets were invited for ride-alongs in BMW’s new i3 city car and i8 supercar. The impressions gleaned from ride-alongs are generally next to worthless, but the technology being used by BMW is worth examining. Rather than a pure EV, BMW will be adopting a three-pronged approach – a pure EV, a range extender and a plug-in hybrid.

The i3, a small hatchback meant for urban driving, will adopt the BMW ActiveE’s drivetrain, with an electric motor mounted in the rear, making 168 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Maximum range is said to be 140 miles, though 80-100 miles is a more realistic figure according to BMW. The i3 will be slightly bigger than a Mini Cooper, but will weigh just 2750 lbs and git 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. And unlike the Mini, it’s rear-drive.

But the most interesting aspect of the i3 is the range extender option. Unlike the plug-in hybrid option on the i8 supercar (which uses a three-cylinder turbocharged engine and an electric motor to power the wheels), the range extender in the i3 is strictly used to help maintain the battery’s charge if it falls below a predetermined level. It does not power the drive wheels under any circumstances. The 650cc parallel-twin could help increase the i3′s range to as much as 200 miles according to BMW, though specifics were scant.

As much as pure EV enthusiasts may scoff at the idea of any carbon-emitting technology sullying the zero-emissions dream, range extender technology could become prominent as a means of expanding the viability of electric vehicles. Small motorcycle engines (like the i3) and even rotary engines are being floated as possible solutions, while other more radical possibilities are being researched right now. Serenergy, a Danish firm, makes a fuel cell system based on methanol that could be adopted for this purpose. While methanol fell out of vogue in the 90s, the prospect of creating it from sources like solid waste has helped revive interest in methanol as a biofuel. On a broader scale, range extenders could alleviate one of the main psychological deterrents to EV adoption – the fear of running out of juice, rendering you totally stranded – by offering a reliable fail-safe in case of battery depletion. And if it’s a rear engine, rear drive compact, all the better for those of us who still enjoy the act of driving.

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Mazda Boss Reveals More About Rotary Range Extender Wed, 29 Aug 2012 17:01:51 +0000

The rotary engine and Mazda have had a tumultuus, on-and-off relationship that rivals an Old Hollywood marriage. Market conditions and government regulations have made mass production of the rotary a constant challenge, and the death of the Mazda RX-8 looked like the final nail in the Wankel’s coffin.

It turns out that Mazda is not only reviving the rotary, but the rumors of its use as a range extender have been confirmed by Mazda head Takashi Yamanouchi, who spoke briefly at the Moscow Auto Show regarding its future.

Yamanouchi revealed that the next-generation rotary car would be a plug-in vehicle that would only be available for lease in Japan. Regarding the rotary’s use, Yamanouchi said

“The rotary has very good dynamic performance, but if you accelerate and brake a lot there are efficiency disadvantages. The range extender overcomes that. We can keep it spinning at it’s most efficient 2000rpm while also taking advantage of it’s size.”

Better a range-extending rotary than no rotary at all, right?

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Geo Storm EV Mule, The Chevrolet Volt’s Baby Daddy? Thu, 31 May 2012 15:23:12 +0000

While on the Infiniti JX launch event, I met a gentleman who now works with Nissan. He had a number of interesting stories about his tenure at GM, and what it was like to work on the EV1 program, as well as the technology that he swears was the forerunner to the Chevrolet Volt.

According to him, GM engineers in 1991 needed a way to keep the batteries in their GM Storm EV mules charged. A crude range extender was fashioned out of a Honda generator, which would kick in when the batteries dropped below a certain point.

The Storm mules were gutted and filled with batteries and a generator and driven around during development. He swears that, with the number of EV1 and Impact (the original GM EV) people left kicking around for the Volt’s development, the range extender idea must have lived on in someone’s mind for a very long time, until it came time to put it in operation.

I begged him to grant me an interview, or at least let me quote him, but he wouldn’t indulge me. I was left wondering about the early days of the program, until I stumbled upon this article in the January 1992 edition of Motor Trend. The big difference here is that GM has ditched the range extender and worked out a proper 220V charging system (apparently that was an obstacle in the early days).  Note that the EV1 charging paddle is absent here, and it seems to use a very-1990s flashing LED charge port, similar to the L.A. Gear running shoes that were found to have mercury in them.

Since there seems to be a fair amount of Storm love on TTAC these days, it’s worth recognizing the irony of a largely forgotten car paving the way for perhaps the biggest automotive lightning rod since the Edsel.

You can see the full-size scan in the gallery below

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail stormmule ev1-paddle-2


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A Look At The Homebrew Toyota RAV4 EVs Already Out There Thu, 10 May 2012 15:52:27 +0000

Despite Toyota’s announcement of a new generation of RAV4 EV, mostly for CARB compliance, it seems that RAV4 EV production has never really stopped – at least not on a one-off basis.

Brian Driggs of Gearbox Magazine went looking through EVAlbum’s catalog of enthusiast-created RAV4 EV conversions. Some of them look identical to a standard RAV4, while others are more intricate. Witness the RAV4 EV, that appears to be a Toyota original. The big difference is that this photo, apparently dated in 2001, shows the RAV4 EV towing a trailer. Within the trailer is a Kawasaki 500cc parallel-twin motorcycle engine that powers an A/C generator. Range extender anyone? Yes, it’s a little crude, but also somewhat ingenious.

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Consumer Reports Fisker Karma Breaks In Driveway Thu, 08 Mar 2012 20:56:07 +0000
Consumer Reports recently bought a Fisker Karma, which ended up breaking down in the driveway of their vehicle testing facility.

The car didn’t quite “brick”, but it was rendered immobile, and had to be towed away on a flatbed. We’ll be keeping an eye on what transpires. Maybe it will re-start once Fisker’s DoE loans get re-instated.

According to CR, the Karma lasted a mere 180 miles before dying. CR says that they will continue testing the car and that the defect won’t affect reliability scores, which are based on owner feedback.

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Audi To Unveil A1 e-tron Concept With Wankel Range Extender Mon, 01 Mar 2010 23:49:01 +0000

The Wankel rotary engine returns to its native land at last. Since the NSU Ro 80 went out of production in 1977, Mazda has been the keeper of the flame. But Audi has announced that it will show an A1 e-tron concept at the Geneva show this week, and the pug-in will feature a single-rotor Wankel range extender (gen set). Rotaries and micro-turbines have often been suggested as the ultimate range extenders due to their compact size and low weight.

The “e-tron” will become a moniker for all electrified Audis, promises Audi chief Rupert Stalder to the German magazine Focus, “just like Quattro has become synonymous for four-wheel drive.”

Audi is claiming a 31 mile range in EV mode, before the rotary begins to spin juice. Rotaries are generally less efficient than piston engines, but the trade-off for weight and power density may make it worthwhile. According to Green Car Congress,  the A1 e-tron will only have an additional 124 miles running on its single rotor Wankel range extender.  Must be a mighty small fuel tank, or is the rotary really that thirsty?

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Volt Birth Watch 174: Enough With The Prius Comparisons! Tue, 24 Nov 2009 22:55:09 +0000 Is anyone else seeing GM's business plans in this chart? (

As we saw in the last VBW, the Volt’s range-extender still needs some software work. But efforts to to keep the gas engine from acting like a thrashing, disembodied dervish will have to balance the desire for smooth operation and maximum efficiency.  And it’s looking like efficiency in charge sustaining (CS) mode won’t match the hybrid standard-setters. Volt chief powertrain engineer Alex Cattelan breaks the news gently to the true believers at

You’ve got to understand that all of the decisions that we’ve made around this product are made because its an EV. That is the first and foremost thing that it needs to be. So because it is an EV some of the decisions that we’ve made around engine operation will be different than what Toyota makes in its parallel hybrid. For them they are always operating in hybrid mode so they need to optimize everything for engine operation.

In our case we’re optimizing everything for EV operation and the secondary is certainly going to be better than conventional vehicles, but were not necessarily totally optimizing the system for charge sustaining mode because we don’t want to compromise electric vehicle mode.

Cattelan goes on to describe the sophistication of the Volt’s constantly-updating efficiency software, sourced from the abortive Two-Mode hybrid system. And as the chart above shows, the plan for charge-sustaining mode is an interesting one. Essentially, it involves keeping the battery state of charge between 30 and 35 percent, once the 40 miles of (estimated) EV range is tapped. Which is a fine idea as long as the engine on-off improves. Otherwise, drivers might just find themselves nervously counting down the five percent charge range before the 1.4 liter range extender thrashes to life again. Hoping for an answer to that question, Gm-volt notes “I’ve driven the 2-mode and notice you can see the switched in mode of operation without feeling it in the car.” Cattelan’s response reveals the trade-off that’s in play:

Which is the goal, you don’t want you to feel it in the car, we don’t want the customer to know these transitions are taking place, but we need to be able to enable them for efficiency.

Later, when Cattelan has explained the efficiency benefits of having a range-extending engine that’s independent of the drive axle, Gm-volt pushes again on the charge sustaining-mode efficiency question, saying “It seems to me then you should make CS mode even more efficient then in a car where the engine always has to turn the axle?” Cattelan’s answer once again downplays the notion, saying

Right and it is more efficient than a conventional vehicle because they do have to have that engine coupled. Again were optimizing some of those efficiency point puts we are really doing is focusing on the optimization of the EV. There are trade offs because we absolutely consider this product an EV by nature.

It’s not a hybrid! We’re focusing on EV mode! More efficient than a “conventional vehicle” in CS mode! Which means, what, 35 MPG? As Paul Niedermeyer explained some 18 months ago, the Volt is going to have a hell of a time beating the Prius on a mass-market basis. Which is what happens when you come up with the marketing line (“40 miles without burning a drop of gasoline”) before you develop the car.

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