Range Extension

Range Extension

Especially in the first several years it will be difficult to drive long distances in Europe.
Because there won't be enough places to quickCharge or to swap batteries.

Have you ever thought of a range extender that could be placed under the hood?
A small combustion engine that could run on long distance, or even a fuel cell.
(a similar concept to Opel Ampera)

Ad van der Meer | October 29, 2010

Please no range extender. I'll probably need more miles only a couple of times per year. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find somebody who will lend me their car. If only because they are able to ride my car than.
If that doesn't work out I'll rent a car.
I'm expect/hope that when my battery needs to be replaced after 4-5 years (100´000 mi), a battery with sufficient range (450/500 mi) will be available.

Vawlkus | October 29, 2010

They'd have to redesign the car to accomodate all the garbage that'd come with that kind of "range extender", and it would add so much extra weight that the car would be lucky to go 100 miles before it was on empty.

Tesla is not in the business of building hybrids, they're building electric cars, period, end of story. Besides, over in EU isn't the wall voltage 220 or something? You don't need a quick charger with that around, just find a socket you can use for an hour or two :P

Timo | October 29, 2010

In Europe it is 230V. Few 400 three-phase outlets are not uncommon in ordinary households. Much easier here to get L3 -chargers done.

bcn0209 | October 30, 2010

I sincerely hope that Tesla uses Lithium Nanophosphate batteries to shorten charge times...No other current battery technology will make an electric car practical.

Don't believe I know what I am talking about? I designed, built and raced a solar electric car called the Pappillion in College at Texas A&M University in 1999. It used 2 meters of Amorphous Polysilicon cells encapsulated in Silicon elastomer and a 15 HP DC-square-wave induction motor with a variable air gap. Back then there were no Li-PO batteries, only Ni-MH.

If I can find 1 a 110V outlet in the US that supports 25 amps, and I have nanophospahte, I can get a 30-100 mile range boost in under 30 minutes. With any lesser battery, I will need hours to charge.

240VAC 60 amps would be ideal!

110V 10 amps will take like 12 hours to fully charge this thing.

Tim10 | October 30, 2010

In 30 minutes with a 110v/25 amp outlet your unlikely to see an addition of 30-100 miles of range to a vehicle like the Model S. Your adding pulling less than 2kwh with that setup regardless of the type of battery.

Timo | October 30, 2010

Lithium nanophosphate batteries have low energy density. Even if you could somehow get over 100 kW out of socket to charge it in less than hour that battery would weight something like 700kg for 300mile range. No thanks.

Ishiwago | November 1, 2010

well current battery weights 450kg. it's just the matter of whether 300kg to reduce charge time by 8 hours is worth it? (to some it may not.. but for those who travel really long distances of more than 300 mile, i think they'll approve)

Vawlkus | November 1, 2010

Point is you won't GET 300 miles with that nano battery. Lower energy density means there's less ability to hold the amount of power that the car needs. A 300 mile Li-Ion is probably the same weight as a 75 or 100 mile Li-Nano.

Timo | November 1, 2010

That 450kg is the entire battery pack, not just the batteries. If you count only batteries you have something like 300kg, maybe less (can't just now remember what kind of energy density Roadster batteries had).

Also it is not the battery that is limiting factor. You can rip out of those batteries about 200kW, so you pretty much can also charge with that much power. 200kW means 400V@500A. 500A. I don't think you can easily handle a cable that can deliver that much amps, much less find a connection that can handle that much power without blowing the fuse.

Jakob | November 9, 2010

you're talking about batteries, instead of range extension.
Here in europe it really matters:
we do less distance in every day travelling.
we have more holidays, when we do longer trips, when we need a range extender.
I coud think of putting a midsize generator on the hitch and plug it when doing big distances, no wheigth compensation needed, because I take the small battery pack, which is enough for the everyday traveling.
the question is, if there can be charging while driving..

Timo | November 9, 2010

For Roadster answer is simple no. Technically it is possible (obviously) but Roadster does not have that possibility. Model S is highly probably similar case. These are pure BEV:s, so you need to find some charging point on your way in longer road trips. Luckily European three-phase is powerful enough that if you find one (and Model S mobile charger can handle it) you have enough juice to continue your trip in one or two hours.

Gas-stations probably have high-power three-phase connectors, though I'm not sure you could use them for charging.

Vawlkus | November 9, 2010

You're incorrect in your assumption that there would be no weight penalty with a towed range extender: the car still has to drag the trailer, regardless. Add to that, not everyone is comfortable (or capable) of driving safely with a trailer attached, and you've got a reciepe for disaster.

It's by far easier to find a voltage source to charge from rather than trying to lug around a portable generator. I mean, here in North America, all we have to do is find a campground with RV power hookups that'll lets us charge for a few hours. While we're doing that, we can take in some of the scenary, get a bite to eat, strech our legs, etc. While BEV's are the most practical for long roadtrips (yet), they are good for a vacation getaway drive.

Jaffray | November 9, 2010

@Vawlkus, besides what you mentioned above, who in their right mind would want to constantly drive around in a luxury performance vehicle towing a trailer?...might as well drive a crossover or SUV...;)

Roblab | November 10, 2010

If you absolutely must have a luxury car with a full time on board generator, Fisker, as I remember, is building one for you. And GM! Since Europeans are constantly driving long distances, all day, not able to stop to eat and charge, or overnight sleep and charge, I can understand how GM and Fisker might have a market there. In California, however, we only drive a few hundred miles before pulling over for food and rest, and can charge nearly everywhere, on 220v 40a. Usually don't have to bring it to full charge, but only enough to complete the trip.

When I was in Europe last, we seemed never to put on more than 100 miles a day touring around Britain. But not being European, I guess that would be unusual.

Jakob | November 23, 2010

Seems in US you don't know a base you can fix on your towbar.
It's better than on the roof, because it's in the windshade of your car.
On this base you could easy transport an external range extender when you travel long distances. You just would have to plug in the generator. With a midsize Generator of maybe 4kW you would extend your range significant.
And for every day use you just leave it at home.

Timo | November 23, 2010

That small generator wouldn't increase range much, considering increased wind and rolling resistances it causes. Maybe from 200miles to 250 miles before battery is empty if you stay under 60mph. If you go over then range extension is less. You need to have at least 20kW generator before that starts to be really useful.

qwk | November 23, 2010

This discussion is useless, as almost all electric cars now have a safety feature that disables them when plugged in. The Roadster will not move when charging. I'm sure a firmware update could fix this, but I bet EV manufacturers will be reluctant because of safety issues.

bhp | November 23, 2010

NO comments !!!!!!!! range extender !!!!!!!!!!!!!

SOUNDS LIKE PHEV............:-)

Rrroger | December 4, 2010

The southern California dealer that I talked to on the phone said the Tesla concierge service will find a hotel that has 440V outlets.
The roadster dealer hooks up for free now, but how much will that cost the rest of us someday ? ?

ChristianG | December 6, 2010

@Roger probably nothing, even if Tesla don't do anything, there seem to be enough enthusiasts around to do a website for it at least, and probalby apps for all available smart phones.

Rrroger | December 6, 2010

Thanks for your idea about tying Tesla owners to a future website. I also wonder what the Hotel will charge me to get electric power from their outlet, in 2 years when I get the Model S? Hopefully KWHr rates will not be too much higher, and a refill at night at actual cost, should be less than $10. Although it may be like gasoline and water in the middle of the desert, that goes way up for price gouging?

Vawlkus | December 7, 2010

The cost to plug in might be initally be a bit higher, but once the plugs & wiring upgrades are paid off, I'll wager the price will drop to something like $20 to plug in per night, or something similar.

Brian H | December 8, 2010

I'd expect hoteliers with half a brain would tout free charging for clients as a promotional perk. Charging every EV their guests come in would be trivial compared to the "opportunity cost" of a single unrented room.

Vawlkus | December 8, 2010

That's what I'd expect Brian, but I'm not counting on it initially ;)

Rrroger | December 10, 2010

It would be a great advertising gimmick!

Also, if they charge more than $10 to hook-up for overnight charging, I would look elsewhere, the Hotel needs to make it attractive !

Competition in the market should keep it low, and get free days
to fill the empty rooms at off peak, or longer stays!

Random | December 14, 2010

Sounds like a nice idea to me. Here in Texas it would be useful. Unfortunately what you have here is a gaggle of purists who don't want their nice green electric vehicle contaminated with a nasty ICE, even if it is not a permanent fixture. Then there are those who would never consider pulling any sort of trailer on their nice fancy luxury car.

Then there are those like myself who don't care and just want to get from point A to point B. I can see where a nice, small, stylish two-wheel trailer containing a small engine and an electric generator could make sense in the interrum while we are waiting for electrical hookups to be installed on every street corner and in every rest area across west Texas.

The problem isn't how to drive and charge simultaneously, it's how to extend the range. We have a vehicle with an electric drivetrain. All we need to be able to do is supply it with electric power. Diesel electric trains have been doing this for years. They have a diesel engine that generates electricity that powers the electric drivetrain. Why not something similar for electric cars, at least until the recharging thing is no longer a factor?

A small trailer, with a small diesel engine and a small fuel tank, driving an electric generator. You would need a plug in the back of the car as well as the front. When using the generator, the battery no longer feeds the drivetrain. You can use the generator to recharge the battery if you like when you stop (assuming you stop somewhere that you can't plug it in.) You can also use the generator as a generator for camping, etc, wherever you are, so it also can double as an emergency generator as well. Multiple uses.

If this doesn't float your boat, fine. Take a plane, train, or bus when you drive and only use your Tesla around town. But for those of us with other needs and or desires, it fills a niche until such time as it is no longer needed.

A range extender might be just the thing to get some folks to go ahead and invest in a Tesla (or other EV). It's all about market share. If you want people to use it you have to make it fit their needs. Otherwise it is just a niche market (unless you have some vision of forcing people to use it.)

Jaffray | December 14, 2010

Contaminate their nice green vehicles?

Range extending ICEs contaminate the atmosphere which defeats the purpose of the EV...constantly pulling a trailer doesn't bother you?...I'd say with this comment, you're in the minority by say 90% of all drivers...overall, I'd say your post is rather silly.

qwk | December 14, 2010

Most people must not realize that electicity is everyplace you look. No need for trailers.

Brian H | December 15, 2010

He doesn't want to have to stop and recharge. He doesn't want an EV. Tesla will just have to do without his business, until 1,000 mi packs are available. Not a problem!

FrederickG | January 2, 2011

OK,People. I am just a simple minded person but have a question. I use a 12 volt input to 120/240 output convertor at work to power different things.Why could we hookup something like this to our cars to help charge the batteries as we drive long distances ? I know it wouldnt keep our batteries fully charged but wouldnt it slow down or extend the battery power ?

Timo | January 2, 2011

Where does that 12Volt draw its power? Some sort of ICE generator?

Vawlkus | January 4, 2011

Lemme see if I have this right;
You want to take the 12 volt cigarette lighter, which is powered by the main battery, and plug that back INTO the main battery to extend it's range?

Timo | January 4, 2011

That how that sounded to me, but it is so stupid, that I can't believe that is what he meant.

Jakob | January 12, 2011

It seems, that most of the bloggers do not apreciate the idea of range extender. Probabely because of the idea to have a pure electric car without CO2 Pollution. You're something like hardcore-electric-fans.
What if somebody wants to combine both advantages:
Having a clean car for the everiday-use driven by electricity and for longer trips having a "almost clean" car with a combustion range extender.
I don't want to stay over twice, when I drive to Spain in holiday and the same on the way back, if so i'm spending my holiday with staying over to charge. And I don't want to have a second car just for holidays.
I know that lot of Europeans think the same way and so do Americans who drive through from NY to Miami, changing driver at every fuelstop.
You have to reach these people if you really want to do something for the environement. And you can reach them, if your car has a "unlimitet" range as combustion cars have.
Ohterwise you only reach entusiasts.

Further more Model S could normally be equipped with the small battery pack, this way the car is lighter and therefore even more oecological. By the way could the same amount of Litium be used for 3 cars to further increase the oecology.

ckessel | January 12, 2011

Gas an EV cars have basically the same range. The only difference is in the place you can refuel and how long it takes. Eventually, there will be enough places to refuel. The problem is the time it takes to refuel: minutes vs. hours.

Brian H | January 16, 2011

You double the complexity of the power setup, and drastically cut the electric-only range, and end up getting crappy mileage because the charger is crappy ICE technology.


Jakob | January 24, 2011

Seems you didn't read al I wrote.
In Europe statistically more than 905 of distances are lett than 160 km/100 miles. For these 90% you don't have to carry around a 300mi Battery pack, which ist quite heavy.
For the remaining trips that last longer I'm talking about a range-extender:
I'm thinking of a simple Generator, that can be taken away when not used, it may even be a fuel-cell.

Timo | January 24, 2011

@Jacob, buy a Volt or Prius. You get less performance, obsolete design and more maintenance need, but your need for ICE is satisfied.

ChristianG | January 24, 2011

@Jacob I'm with Timo here, I wouldn't try to make the car something it isn't. I don't think you'll get much out of it while draging it in a trailer as you loose the airodynamic and the light design and what not. It would be quiet complicated to have it in the trunk because the fumes. And of corse for most it's also against the statement of Tesla.

I think with the Volt and The plug in Prius there will be some nice EV-Fuel Hybrids out there. I never had problems with my prius in 5 years so the added complexity don't seem to matter much so far. I for myself still think my prius looks cool (yep I know I don't have any taste ^^) and I still say that I'll pay as much for yearly maintenance for the Model S as I pay now for my prius (if I look at what it costs for the Roadster)

I think the problem is that people seem to want it all. They hear about Tesla look at it, think it's cool. Then realise that they might not be able to do certain trips or get the famous range anxity and suddenly they want to turn it into a hybrid.

I think it's necessary that pure EVs come on the market... cars that are usefull and you do WANT to drive to change the way people think about them. Doing this 'hardcore' thing has not only disadvanteges like the long chargin time. It also has changes as they can built the car differently. Now they just have to prove that with their changes the car rides better and is safer than ICE cars as they claim in the vid.

BYT | January 24, 2011

This might help with some range with night driving as well:

ChristianG | January 25, 2011

Actually in some countries in Europe you have to have the lights on all day so you're seen better. While it feels incredably stupid on a sunny day it's actually not so bad when you enter a forest. But well, I just wanted to say that energy safing lights will be more important in those countries.

Ramon123 | January 25, 2011

With the lowered costs and greater ranges of electrics, the days of the range extender, if they ever existed, have passed. The Model S with a 300 mile option and recharge time of around an hour is fully competitive with gas cars for traveling. I checked and the Fisker Karma, which has a range extender (like the Volt) "in order to eliminate range anxiety" actually has a driving range of 300 miles, same as the Model S. The Volt's driving range? Not much more - about 330 miles. Range extender logic leaves something to be desired. All that extra junk cluttering up the vehicle, adding lots of cost, for nothing.

Vawlkus | January 26, 2011

Adding cost to the vehicle, AND adding cost to the repairs, AND adding the cost of being trained on the complex setup, AND the cost of parts that almost certain to be range-extender specific.

Ramon123 | March 3, 2011

I believe that some don't realize that the 300 mile pack can be rapid charged in 45 minutes. That's entirely adequate for all day
driving and more. Stopping for about an hour every 4 hours is not
much of an inconvenience. Once for lunch and once for dinner, with overnight charging means something on the order of 800+ miles per day. Remember, the Chevy Volt's driving range is actually not significantly greater than the Model S. And with 300 miles, the ONLY time I would ever need rapid charging is while on a trip. During the normal course of usage, a Model S would actually impose less inconvenience than going to gas stations. Nor would there seldom be much need for many folks for the home recharging to use anything other than 120 Volts - that's about ten miles of range per hour. Current batteries are still expensive for 250-300 mile packs but they are adequate for long distance travel. The only holdup is the absence of level 3 charging stations along the highways. The cars that aren't adequate are, of course, the ones being produced by GM, Nissan and others with their 100 (or less, usually much less) mile driving ranges. The great thing about the Model S is that the 160 mile pack can be upgraded at a later date,
something which cannot be said for the others, all of whom are using proprietary batteries available only from the manufacturer,
and guaranteed to not be cheap.

Timo | March 3, 2011

Charging 300 mile pack in 45 minutes means about 125kW connection. Sure that can be done, but I don't think you find anything that powerful anytime soon anywhere. Even those "L3" fast chargers have only about 50kW power.

Sudre | March 4, 2011

Tesla already has a 240 volt single phase charge at 70amps.

It's not much of a stretch to get 480 3 phase charge to get the 125Kw.

Brian H | March 5, 2011

The "fast charge" is to 80% capacity, as the last 20% is much slower to "force in". But that should be enough!

gjunky | June 23, 2011

I believe the range extender, external to the car, is a good idea too and there doesn't have to be a "fight" between the purest EV drivers and the people that want an extender. It would be your choice to get one / use one or not!
"All" it would take for Tesla is to add an additional hookup somewhere at the back of the car and electronics enough to allow for simultaneous charging and driving.

You could rent the extender or buy one and leave it at home when you don't plan a long trip. You would certainly not drive around with it all the time. In that case a PHEV would indeed make more sense.

The chances of finding a quick charger somewhere near the end of your battery range (to avoid having to make even more charging stops), especially now and especially in less densely populated areas (like the gentlemen from Texas) are very slim.

In these cases, people who would want to, could hookup there external range extender and happily drive the extra distance.

I don't understand the "attacks" on this idea. If you don't want it, don't use it. I could see a rental business starting to rent these extenders in the future but until then people that want one can buy one. The cost could be offset by buying a car with a smaller battery. It would of course be great if there was a Tesla designed one :)

In Europe where LPG is available in most places, the Extender could run on that or Diesel. In the US, regular gas or Diesel could be used. (Really, any fuel could be used of course, this is just an example)

Having choices is good.

Sudre | June 23, 2011

It's not as much of an attack as a wonder of, what's the point?. If you are going to drag a gas generator around with you just drive an ICE. If it was as easy as everyone claims Chevy would have one killer car that would make everyone happy.

Diesel train engines are pretty much a diesel engine running a generator that runs the electric motors driving the wheels with caps to boost power. It gives trains incredible gas mileage per ton.
Chevy can't figure out how to do this with the Volt even tho the tech's been around since the diesel trains existence.... probably because they keep thinking how small to make the car. Maybe they should have gone the other way like Tesla except build a monster SUV.

I'm sure others can give you the kilowatts you'r going to need to run the car on the highway pulling one of these things:

Look at the size of it.... 100kw generators are not small. I've installed these at a local hospital. If you are charging batteries with one of these babies you have to tell the factory because that ups the KW and electronics.
I've relocated one of these things with the gas drained and it was around 8000 lbs and if I recall correctly it wasn't a 100KW unit.

10kw might keep you going but it's still not tiny.

Now remember these are long term use full load generators. Not the little toys you can pick up at the local hardware store.

Volker.Berlin | June 23, 2011

There is already a rental business for ICE cars. Instead of buying or renting a range extender, wouldn't it make sense to simply rent the car you want/need for your specific occasion? If you choose a modern and fuel-efficient model, you could be even better off than with a Tesla with range extending trailer. The trailer adds more weight than a built-in ICE, significantly more drag, and it has (at least) two additional wheels that add rolling resistance. I agree, choice is good, but if a choice does not offer an advantage over other options, it is only fair to dismiss it.

As someone else mentioned in this forum, once you own a Model S it will be easy for you to find a friend who is willing to swap his gas guzzler for your Tesla if you need to make an occasional trip. :-)