Range-Extender Electric Vehicles (REEVs)
This can cause 'range anxiety', which is the fear of running out of battery power before reaching a destination. This is also a major obstacle for drivers who may be considering getting an electric car.
As it happens, this is where range extenders come in.
REEVs or extended-range electric vehicles, are a type of hybrid vehicle that combines the benefits of EVs and traditional gasoline-powered cars.
This technology lets the vehicle to travel beyond the car's battery range, and this reduces range anxiety and makes it a more practical option for drivers who need to travel long distances.
In this post, we will look deeper at REEVs, how they work, and their benefits.
What is an REEV?
An EV's range extender is a technology that lets electric cars travel further than their driving range. It uses a small internal combustion engine that acts as a generator to charge the battery when the battery bank runs low on power.
The micro-gas turbine is typically fueled by gasoline, diesel, or natural gas, and provides electric power to the electric motors when the battery is depleted. This extends the range of the vehicle and reduces range anxiety, making it a more practical option for drivers who need to travel long distances.
Range extender technology is particularly useful for drivers who live in areas with limited charging infrastructure or who need to travel long distances without access to charging stations. With an EV range extender, drivers can have the best of both worlds - the environmental benefits of an EV and the extended range of a gasoline-powered vehicle.
It's worth noting that an REEV is different from a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Plug-in hybrid vehicles have a smaller battery pack and a gasoline engine that provides power to the wheels when the battery is depleted.
In contrast, REEVs have a large battery and an engine that only generates electricity to charge the battery. This means that the vehicle's primary power source is still electricity, with the engine acting as an auxiliary power unit to extend the range when needed.
How does a range extender work?
A range extender works by using a small internal combustion engine that generates electricity to power the electric motor.
When the battery is fully charged, the electric motor powers the vehicle, and the range extender remains idle. When the battery charge drops below a certain level, the range extender kicks in to provide power to the electric motor. This extends the range of the vehicle and allows drivers to travel further on a single charge.
The range extender engine is designed to run at a constant speed, which is optimized for generating electricity. This makes it more efficient than a traditional gasoline engine, which has to constantly change speeds to match the vehicle's power demands. The electricity generated by the engine is used to power the electric motor, which propels the vehicle forward.
REEVs vs. PHEVs
REEVs typically have an all-electric range of around 50-80 miles before the range extender engine kicks in to provide additional power.
Once the range extender engine is engaged, the vehicle can typically continue driving for an additional 200-300 miles or more.
In comparison, PHEVs only have an all-electric range of 15-60 miles or more.
Once the electric charge is depleted, PHEVs can continue to travel using their gasoline engine, lasting around 300-400 miles depending on the specific vehicle and driving conditions.
In general, REEVs tend to be more expensive than plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) due to their larger battery packs and more complex drivetrains. However, the cost difference can vary depending on the specific make and model of the vehicle.
Here are a few examples of the cost difference between REEVs and PHEVs:
BMW i3: The BMW i3 is available as both a REEV and a PHEV. The starting price for the REEV version is around $44,450, while the starting price for the PHEV version is around $50,400.
Chevrolet Volt/Bolt: Chevrolet offers both the Volt PHEV and the Bolt REEV. The starting price for the Volt is around $34,395, while the starting price for the Bolt is around $38,495.
BMW 330e/530e: BMW offers both the 330e and 530e PHEVs. The starting price for the 330e is around $44,550, while the starting price for the 530e is around $57,200. By comparison, the starting price for the BMW i3 REEV is around $44,450.
It's important to note that these prices are subject to change and may vary depending on your location, trim level, and other factors. Additionally, the cost of ownership over time can vary depending on fuel and maintenance costs, as well as any tax credits or incentives that may be available.
REEVs may have lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to PHEVs since they rely more on electric power. However, their higher upfront cost can make them less cost-effective over the long term, especially if you don't drive long distances frequently.
PHEVs, on the other hand, tend to have lower upfront costs and can be more cost-effective in the short term, especially if you drive long distances frequently. However, their reliance on gasoline can result in higher fuel costs over time, and they may require more maintenance than REEVs.
Which cars have range extenders?
Several electric cars on the market come with range extenders. Here are a few examples:
BMW i3 Range Extender - Comes with a 0.6-liter two-cylinder gas engine.
Chevrolet Volt - Comes with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine.
Fisker Karma - Comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine.
Opel Ampera - Comes with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine.
Toyota Prius Prime - This is a plug-in hybrid that also has an EV range extender. It comes with an 8.8 kWh battery and a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine.
Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid - This vehicle is a plug-in hybrid that also has an EV range extender. It comes with a 17 kWh battery and a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
Benefits of REEVs
These offer several benefits to drivers, including:
Increased Range - One of the most significant benefits of owning an REEV is the increased range. Drivers can travel further on a single charge, making it a more practical option for those who need to travel long distances.
Reduced Range Anxiety - Range anxiety is a common concern among EV owners. This fear is greatly reduced in REEVs as the range extender acts as a backup to provide additional power when needed.
Improved Efficiency - REEVs are generally more efficient than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles as they rely more on electric power than on gasoline. This makes them a more environmentally-friendly option for drivers who are concerned about their carbon footprint.
Lower Fuel Costs - REEVs can offer significant savings on fuel costs compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. Since they rely more on electric power, drivers spend less money on gasoline, and they can also take advantage of lower electricity rates during off-peak hours.
Reduced Emissions - REEVs emit fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, making them a more environmentally-friendly option. This is especially true when they operate in electric-only mode, which produces zero emissions. The environmental impact is often a compelling reason for individuals to consider the benefits of electric vs gas cars when making their transportation choices.
Practicality - EREVs offer the practicality of a gasoline-powered vehicle with the environmental benefits of an EV. They can be refueled quickly, like a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle, and also offer the extended range of an EV.
Who suits REEVs?
Here are some specific groups of drivers who may find REEVs to be a good fit:
City dwellers: REEVs can be a great option for drivers who primarily drive in urban or suburban areas with access to charging infrastructure. Since REEVs can run on electric power for shorter trips and have a backup gasoline engine for longer trips, they can offer the best of both worlds for city dwellers who need to balance short and long-distance driving needs.
Commuters: If you have a relatively short commute to work or school, a REEV may be a good fit for your needs. Many REEVs offer enough electric range to cover daily commutes, and the backup gasoline engine can provide added peace of mind for longer trips or unexpected detours.
Road trippers: If you enjoy taking long road trips, a REEV may be a good fit for your needs. The backup gasoline engine can provide added peace of mind for longer trips, and many REEVs offer enough electric range to cover shorter legs of your trip without relying on gasoline.
REEVs can also be called an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) or range-extended electric vehicle.
This includes the technologies that let EVs travel further than its battery range. It is essentially an onboard generator that provides electricity to the vehicle's electric motor to keep it running when the battery is depleted.
This varies depending on the model, but it typically ranges from 50 to 100 miles.
The advantage of a range-extended hybrid is that it provides an extended range of travel on a single charge, eliminating the need for frequent stops to recharge the battery. This makes it a more practical option for those who need to travel long distances.