What is a range extender hybrid?

The hybrid performance car is no longer an oxymoron. Here’s how manufacturers are using this new tech to make them better, not just greener

You might have heard a little bit about range-extender hybrids a few years ago, but as plug-in powertrains become more flexible and powerful, and range anxiety in full-EVs lessens, so too has the range extender fallen out of favour. A range-extender powertrain is defined by its layout of a combustion engine being a small supplementary motor to, as its name suggests, extend the range from the battery pack. Range extenders also reduce the parasitic mechanical losses associated with combustion engines by not being directly connected to the wheels, instead acting only as an electricity generator, hence their general incompatibility with performance cars.

While private cars have turned away from range-extender-style hybrids, public transport such as buses and the new LEVC London Taxi use the technology to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions without the need to plug in as often as a pure electric alternative. In urban centres especially, vehicles such as the new London Taxi are able to run almost entirely on electric mode thanks to the constant stop-start driving style that tops up the batteries via regenerative braking, only turning to the combustion engine when the batteries are at a critically low level.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

Range extender cars

Most Popular

BMW M3 saloon

All-new BMW M3 Competition revealed – an icon reborn

This is the all-new BMW M3 Competition saloon which will join the M4 Competition coupe in BMW M’s new M3/4 family
23 Sep 2020
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

Honda Civic Type R GT 2020 review – still king of the hot hatch crop?

Subtle tweaks have made the Type R an even more formidable hot hatch, but we’re keen to try one again soon to understand fully the changes to the susp…
22 Sep 2020

All-new BMW M4 Competition revealed – next generation super coupe debuts

The new BMW M4 Competition applies its war paint, but there’s no manual coming to the UK
23 Sep 2020
Hyundai i30 N

Updated Hyundai i30 N revealed with optional dual-clutch ‘box

It was the hot hatch that upset the status quo, and now the i30 N is back with more power and tech
24 Sep 2020