Electric cars: several kilometers with the range extender

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Stay on foot with the electric car? In fact, it is a fear that in addition to the list price, many motorists still keep buying a battery-powered vehicle today, despite the growing range and the more widespread use of charging stations. Many of them have found a more “serene” solution in plug-in hybrids and settle for actual average distances between 36 and 66 km in Ev mode, with the internal combustion engine drive ready to support the driving of the vehicle. A lesser-known alternative is the range extender: a generator that, connected to a small heat engine, expands the autonomy of electricity by producing more energy.

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The reality already. The more attentive know that this solution has already been adopted earlier by Vanzic, one of the various Fiat electric concepts from the 1990s and above all from the BMW i3 Range Extender, which is equipped with a motorcycle-derived twin cylinder of 647 cm3, capable of delivering 34 HP and 55 Nm. a nine-liter fuel tank, in turn located in the front area of ​​the car and capable of giving the vehicle an additional hundred kilometers of mileage. Hence an advantage similar to plug-ins, but based on a different technology: the thermals on range extenders do not push the car, unlike what happens on plug-in hybrids (or rather on most hybrids). The traction is therefore always and only electric, even though the energy is produced by the internal combustion engine.

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Long crossings. With the advent of larger batteries, the BMW i3 has abandoned this solution, which we are now findingAudi RS Q e-tron which will participate in the Dakar 2022. The off-road vehicle adopts three units derived from Formula E, two of which deal with traction on both axles, while a third acts as a generator for recharging the high-voltage battery, especially during braking. . And since there are no columns in the desert, the powertrain can draw power from a range extender supported by the same four-cylinder TFSI that was used in previous versions of the DTM, the German Touring Car Championship.

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Double pass. To return to road vehicles, the Seres 5 is on its way, a segment D electric SUV that will be imported into Italy by the Koelliker group as part of its project KGen, dedicated to electric mobility. Well, this Chinese-made California SUV (a bit like the first Tesla Model Y for Europe, waiting for the Berlin Gigafactory) will also be available in a version with a 35 kWh battery, whose driveline, if necessary, can also be powered by a 1.5-liter petrol engine that extends (and not a little) autonomy.

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Japanese solution. As you know, Mazda has for some years been studying the solution of the range extender supported by the Wankel rotary engine: compact and with few vibrations, it seems to be the ideal choice for such use. In fact, we started already in 2019 running E-Tpv (pictured), or rather of the prototype, which, albeit with the appearance of a CX-30, foresaw the current MX-30, but with a generator supported by Wankel, which can even be used as an energy source for household use in case of an emergency. As you know, the MX-30 is now only available fully electric, but in 2022 it should also come with “help” from the swivel wheel.

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