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  • A range extender is a secondary power source or power generator that’s installed on range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs). This gasoline-powered generator charges an EV’s battery when it’s almost empty.
  • An REEV can be considered a type of hybrid. Its gasoline motor charges only the batteries, not the wheels.
  • REEVs are recommended for those who use their vehicles for their daily commute to work or school.

Ever heard of “range anxiety”? In the context of electric vehicles (EVs), the term describes a driver’s fear of running out of battery before arriving at the destination. This fear is also the reason why a lot of drivers are on the fence about electric cars.

An EV range extender can help prevent this type of anxiety from happening while you’re driving an EV.

What’s a Range Extender and How Does It Work?

A range extender refers to a secondary power source or power generator on certain EVs called range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs). It uses a gasoline engine to charge the EV’s battery once it’s nearly depleted.

The range extender stays inactive when the EV battery is fully charged. It will only activate to charge the electric motor once the electric battery is near empty.

How Much Extra Range Does a Range Extender Provide Once Activated?

A typical REEV has an all-electric range of around 50-80 miles. Once the range extender activates, you can continue to drive your vehicle for an additional 200-300 miles, depending on the REEV.

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You can refuel range extenders at any gas station for additional range. So even if you don’t find a charging station, you will still be able to drive a few hundred miles more.

What’s the Difference Between REEVs and EV Hybrids?

An REEV can be considered a type of hybrid, but it operates differently than other hybrid vehicles.

For example, you can charge the battery of plug-in hybrids from an external source. However, it still gets most of its power from a gasoline motor.

When the battery of a plug-in hybrid vehicle is depleted, it will continue traveling another 300-400 miles using its gasoline engine.

EVs with range extenders only use their gasoline motors to charge their batteries. They don’t directly use the gasoline engine to turn the wheels.

Are REEVs More Expensive than Plug-in Hybrids?

bmw i3 with range extender
REEVs can be more expensive than plug-in hybrids because they have larger battery packs and more complex drivetrains. Image credit: BMW Group PressClub.

REEVs can be more expensive than plug-in hybrids because they have larger battery packs and more complex drivetrains. However, prices can vary depending on the vehicle’s make and model.

For example, the REEV version of the BMW i3 starts at $44,450, while the plug-in hybrid BMW i3 costs $50, 400. In this case, the plug-in hybrid version is more expensive than the REEV option.

Advantages of EV Cars With Range Extender

If you’re thinking about buying an extended range EV, here are some of its benefits:

More Range

The most obvious advantage of owning an REEV is the extended range it will provide for your vehicle. If you often go on long trips, and you’re reluctant to buy an EV because of range anxiety, this might pacify your fear.

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Improved Ride Comfort

Electric vehicles rely on a limited amount of electrical energy to power the electric motor. Other components, like the A/C and heating systems, also draw their power from the same energy source.

When your vehicle has a range extender, you can be sure that you won’t get stuck somewhere because of a dead battery. You also don’t have to limit the use of your ride’s A/C and other add-on features for fear of draining your battery.

Battery Management and Longevity

A range extender keeps the electric battery from draining or overheating. It keeps the EV’s battery at its safe operating range, prolonging its lifespan and preventing it from malfunctioning.

Reduced Emissions

Like other EVs, REEVs produce less pollutants compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. So if you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly option that offers extended range, you might want to explore the REEVs out on the market.

Lower Fuel Costs

Although EVs tend to have a higher upfront buying price compared to their gasoline-powered counterparts, the cost is worth it for most.

You’ll spend less on fuel if you buy an REEV. Charging an EV is about three times cheaper per mile than the cost of fueling a gas-powered car. Plus, REEV drivers who want to save money can recharge during off-peak hours when electricity costs less.

What EVs Have Range Extenders?

Some popular vehicles with range extenders include the BMW i3 Rex, the Audi E-tron, and the Hyundai Kona.

Chrysler also confirmed that a version of the Ram 1500 EV pickup truck will soon be equipped with a small onboard combustion engine that’s specially engineered to charge the EV truck’s electric battery. Production begins in 2024.

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If you want to buy an EV that offers extensive range, you can check out different automaker websites to determine if they have a make and model with an extender. Contact your dealership.

Some REEVs are not available in the US, so you’d need to confirm if the vehicle you’re eyeing is for sale in your area.

Should You Buy An REEV?

Before buying any vehicle, you should consider many factors like your lifestyle and the road conditions where you live. Also, you must also consider your budget.

REEVs are usually recommended for those who use their vehicles for their daily commute to work or school. They offer adequate range to cover these daily commutes, and the range extender can provide additional power for lengthy trips.

Also, most people who live in urban or suburban areas usually have no issues driving an REEV because they have access to both charging and fuel stations.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t buy an EV if you often go on a road trip adventure. As long as you plan your trip ahead, an REEV makes for a great road trip ride.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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