Range extender vehicles move to the fast lane, market researcher believes

February 13, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) hitherto have not experienced very high acceptance among customers - for a number of reasons. Of these, the inability to cover long distances is one of ones. The concept of equipping electric vehicles with an additional conventional engine as a range extender is a workaround for this problem. The market research and analysis firm Frost & Sullivan says the demand for such cars will probably rise significantly.

Currently, the commercial market for electric vehicles with range extender (eREV) is not overly populated; Frost & Sullivan counted only one available model. Over the five years ahead, the number of models will rise to 14, the company believes. According a the newly published study from Frost & Sullivan titled "Strategic Analysis on Global Market for Range Extenders", the world market for such cars will grow to almost 330.000 units. As the technology for the range extenders, not only internal combustion engines (ICEs) come into question but also alternative technologies - in particular fuel cells and micro gas turbines. Nevertheless, the most widespread range extender technology will be the conventional ICE with a market share of 77 percent in a global scale.

"Range extenders will remove widespread concerns regarding limited driving range and long charging times for electric vehicles since they will be able to generate electricity by means of several technologies such as combustion engines, fuel cell stacks and micro gas turbines," said Frost & Sullivant Research Associate Prajot Sathe. "This will fuel the trend towards plug-in hybrids and eREVs".

eREVs offer a relatively good fuel efficiency because the primary function of the range extender engine is not driving the vehicle but recharging the battery. For this reason, the engine can always be operated in its optimal working range, reducing the cost for the additional kilometres. "Integrating the range extenders into electric vehicles will help to reduce the exhaust gas emissions by more than 50 percent and significantly fchoke down uel consumption," Sathe added. "It enables engine downsizing which is a significant contribution to lower costs and to overall vehicle optimizations since it is possible to maintain the same technical level despite smaller cars."

The market watcher believes that the market for range extenders will develop at rather high speed since the large OEMs are already finalizing models scheduled for market introduction over the next three years. In addition,