Extending Range in Electric Vehicles

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Written By Jasmine Young

Jasmine Young is a passionate writer and researcher specializing in battery technology, with a keen interest in its applications across various industries and its role in shaping a sustainable energy future.

As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity. However, the limited driving range of many EV models remains the biggest hurdle to their widespread adoption. Many drivers still experience range anxiety, a fear that they will not be able to reach their destination without running out of power.

This article will explore various methods of extending range in electric vehicles, including the use of range extender technology. We’ll look at how this technology works, its potential impact on the future of EVs, and other methods of increasing range.

Factors Affecting Range

Before exploring the methods of increasing range, it is essential to understand the factors that influence driving range for electric vehicles. These include:

  • Battery capacity and quality: The greater the battery capacity, the more energy the battery can store, and the more driving range the vehicle can achieve. However, factors such as battery age, temperature, and charging frequency can all impact the battery’s ability to deliver power, reducing the vehicle’s range autonomy.
  • Driving habits: How a driver operates an EV is an enormous factor in determining how far the vehicle can travel on a single charge. Drivers who accelerate harshly and frequently, brake hard, or travel at high speeds will use up more energy and shorten the driving range.
  • Terrain: Uphill and downhill driving, as well as different driving terrains such as highways and city roads, can significantly impact the range of an EV.
  • External temperatures: Extreme heat or cold can cause battery performance issues, reducing EV range.

Monitoring and managing these factors are crucial in making the most of an electric vehicle’s range capabilities. In the next section, we’ll look at some ways to address these issues and extend an EV’s driving range.

Methods of Increasing Range

Several methods can help increase the range of electric vehicles, including:

  • Improving battery technology: EV makers are continually seeking to improve battery capacity, reduce charging time, and improve the lifespan and performance of EV batteries. Battery technology is advancing, offering battery packs that provide higher energy density, better thermal management, and longer ranges. As more manufacturers join the EV market, battery improvements will likely continue to evolve, bringing more benefits for EV drivers.
  • Reducing vehicle weight: EV makers can build lighter vehicles by using lighter materials such as aluminum instead of steel. Reducing vehicle weight increases the driving range by requiring less energy to move the vehicle.
  • Regenerative braking: Regenerative braking helps recapture energy that would otherwise be lost during braking, feeding that energy back to charge the vehicle’s battery.
  • Optimizing driving habits: Adopting energy-efficient driving habits, such as using cruise control, driving at moderate speeds, and avoiding harsh accelerations and stops, can help extend the range.

While these methods can all help increase an EV’s driving range, they can have their limitations and may not be enough to fully eliminate range anxiety. In the next section, we’ll explore how range extender technology can help address range limitations and help reduce EV driver’s range anxiety.

The Role of Range Extenders

Range extenders are a type of auxiliary power unit that generates electricity to charge an electric vehicle’s battery while driving. This technology can help extend the range of an electric vehicle and reduce driver’s range anxiety.

There are several types of range extenders, including:

  • Fuel cell-based solutions: A fuel cell range extender uses hydrogen stored in a tank and converts it into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen from the atmosphere. Fuel cells can deliver significant amounts of power in a small package, making them an attractive option for range-extended vehicles.
  • Series hybrid drivetrain: Vehicles with a series-hybrid drivetrain have an electric motor that powers the wheels. The range extender provides additional power by acting as a generator and charging the battery while driving.
  • Micro gas turbines: A micro gas turbine range extender uses a small combustion engine to generate electricity, which is then used to charge the vehicle’s battery.

While these range extender options can extend an EV’s driving range, they do have their limitations due to their additional weight and space requirements. However, they are expected to make a comeback as EV makers seek to lower production costs and offer more affordable entry-level EVs.

The Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 REX are popular EV models that feature range extender technology. As regulators around the world implement stricter emissions regulations, EV makers may incorporate more range extender options in their vehicle models to meet these regulations.

Future of Extended Range Electric Vehicles

The future looks promising for extended range electric vehicles, as regulatory restrictions on vehicle emissions become more stringent and charging infrastructure continues to develop. Extended range hybrids are a type of electric vehicle that uses a small internal combustion engine to generate additional energy, effectively extending the vehicle’s range. Other types of electric and hybrid cars include battery electric vehicles (BEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEVs).

Automakers continue to develop new EV models, from premium luxury models to entry-level EVs. With so many innovative models available, EV enthusiasts have plenty of options. However, with the increasing demand, it is essential to have EV charging infrastructure available.

EV charging networks are expanding in North America, and Europe, making driving longer distances in an EV more feasible. Often, it is not just the primary charging location that is the most valuable, but also the backup charging stations. Installing EV charging stations in parking lots, and popular destination areas, like cafes, makes it easier for EV owners to charge their vehicles wherever they go. Charging station maps with overlays showing information like charging status, charging history, and state of charge help reduce range anxiety by allowing drivers to plan their travel accordingly.

Conclusion

As regulations become more strict and charging infrastructure becomes more prevalent, the future of electric vehicles with range extenders looks increasingly promising. By working in conjunction with other methods of increasing range, EV owners can enjoy an extended driving range and reduced range anxiety. EV makers continue to innovate and develop new EV models with advanced battery technology and other efficiency features. As EV production costs decrease, and charging infrastructure expands, the growth of the EV market will undoubtedly continue.