Over eight million hybrid cars will be made in 2025, each with a range extender, the additional power source that distinguishes them from pure electric cars. Add to that significant money spent on the same devices in buses, military vehicles, boats and so on and a major new market emerges.
We are in the decade of the hybrid electric vehicle despite the fact that most off road and underwater vehicles are pure electric. The reason is that these are mainly small as are electric two-wheelers, which are also almost all pure electric. In addition, these pure electric vehicles are often used where a conventional engine is banned as on lakes and indoors or where it is impracticable as with underwater vehicles. By contrast, half the electric vehicle market value lies in larger road vehicles, notably cars, and here the legal restrictions are weaker or non-existent and range anxiety compels most people to buy hybrids if they go electric at all.
Whereas today's range extenders usually consist of little more than off the shelf internal combustion engines, these are rapidly being replaced by second generation range extenders consisting of piston engines designed from scratch for fairly constant load in series hybrids. There are some wild cards like Wankel engines and rotary combustion engines or free piston engines both with integral electricity generation as explained in the report Range Extenders for Electric Vehicles Land, Water & Air 2015-2025.
However, a more radical departure is the third generation micro turbines as used by Californian Company, Wrightspeed. They have a gas turbine on-board range extender called Fulcrum. Unlike in parallel hybrid architectures, the Fulcrum does not provide direct propulsion to the drive wheels, but is used to re-charge the battery system. It was designed to transcend commercial truck efficiency and performance, providing unlimited range, reduced fuel costs and is approximately 1/10th the weight of its piston generator counterparts.
IDTechEx Chairman, Dr Peter Harrop comments, "This is a big step forward at the power levels needed for trucks and buses, which currently produce more pollution than cars in many countries. Others are circling too. Bladon Jets is getting economy of scale with its versions by first selling them as replacements for kerosene generators on homes and offices in the developing countries. Then it will be well placed to tackle cars such as the Jaguar Land Rover Group of its investor Ratan Tata. Their jets can be held in one hand and they have a single-piece shaft with blades made originally by spark erosion."
The report profiles key developers, manufactures and integrators of range extenders. Market drivers and the changing requirements for power output are analysed. Will shaftless range extenders with no separate electricity generator take over and when will that be? What fuels will be used and when? What are the pros and cons of each option and who are the leaders? It is all here in this report.