Range Extender Engine Explained
Engineering Explained: What is A Range Extender?

The Yangwang U8 is a 3.5-tonne premium SUV from China, featuring a 45 kWh battery supplemented by a range extender. In this case, the range extender is an internal combustion engine used exclusively to charge the battery, functioning purely as a gasoline-powered generator. This engine has no driveshaft and is not connected to the wheels; the U8’s propulsion is provided entirely by its electric motors.

The U8’s legacy gasoline engine provides charging on the move, supported by a 75-liter fuel tank that enables a total range of 620 miles. This raises the question: How can Yangwang claim to be sustainable and environmentally friendly when the U8 employs two opposing technologies, one being a legacy technology and the other being seen as the future?

Is the range extender an obsolete technology, or is it a transitional solution until battery technology fully surpasses the internal combustion engine?

A range extender engine differs from a typical 4-cylinder engine, with pistons mounted horizontally and the entire unit being significantly more compact. However, integrating two opposing power plants adds to the vehicle’s complexity. Mercedes-Benz experimented with range extenders but ultimately abandoned the idea after engineering tests revealed it was prohibitively expensive.

Despite this, Yangwang concluded that the U8 would benefit from incorporating a range extender to reduce battery size and overall weight. Nonetheless, the vehicle still weighs over 3.5 tonnes, which is more than 400 kg heavier than the Tesla Cybertruck.

Range Extender Engine Explained
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