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

Advertisement - Article continues below

Most Popular


BMW M4 Competition vs Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe - German coupe twin test

The F82 BMW M4 is about to be put out to pasture, so does AMG’s recently fettled C63 S Coupe finally have its number?
18 May 2020
Advertisement Feature

Jaguar Project 8 evo reader experience

The Jaguar Project 8 is a 200mph marvel of engineering designed with one purpose in mind: to deliver the thrill of driving. We put some lucky evo read…
14 Apr 2020

The best six-cylinder engines ever – we pick our favourites

Six-cylinder engines can be found in cars of all kinds, good and bad. We collate the very best
13 May 2020
Porsche 911

Porsche 911 Carrera to be turbo only, as manuals stay

Porsche confirms the 911 Carrera won’t be available with a naturally aspirated engine again, but manuals stay. For now
17 May 2020