EREVs: The Extended Range Electric Vehicle Explained

An extended range electric vehicle (EREV) will keep you going — allowing you to cover more ground by proxy.

Which, let’s face it, is desired regardless of the vehicle you buy, electric or otherwise.

Fundamentally, an EREV works similarly to a plug-in hybrid. Only some key differences separate the two.

One, essentially, charges its own battery when in operation, and the other adds additional range to simulate the feeling of driving a BEV in small bursts.

Plug-in hybrids far outweigh extended range EVs on the popularity scale due to functionality.

It’s why many of you reading this will be learning about extended range types for the first time. That’s not to say that REEVs aren’t worth reading up on either, by the way.

Countless benefits come with owning one, but there are some significant downsides too.

Stay tuned.

We’ll be covering everything there is to know about the extended range electric vehicle right here.

Furthermore, we’ll be comparing these types with BEVs and PHEVs from a range POV to give you the best standing ahead of a potential purchase.

Nissan Qashqai E Power Explained Nissan’s Qashqai plans look more than promising © Credit to Nissan

How Does An Extended Range Electric Vehicle Work?

An extended range EV bridges the gap between plug-ins and all-electric types; that’s easily the best way to understand them.

You see, EREVs run on electric power only yet continue to take advantage of a built-in generator that, more often than not, uses traditional fuel to keep it topped up.

In other words, this generator/auxiliary power unit extends the range of an EV by providing electric power to the motor/battery as and when it needs it.

An extended range electric vehicle will never run on standard fuel. Still, it does continue to emit CO2 when the unit kicks in to give the electric parts some energy.

Since the vehicle runs on electric power, all of the outset benefits of owning an EV extend to these types.

Improved acceleration and performance, for example, are but two of these benefits.

Not to mention, increased range given the power of the generator.

Basically, these vehicles give you a lot of leeway in terms of how far you can travel.

Are Extended Range Electric Vehicles Hybrids?

People automatically assume that you’re talking about PHEVs whenever the word hybrid is used, which isn’t always the case.

That’s right.

An extended range electric vehicle identifies as a hybrid, thanks to its optimised drivetrain and dependence on traditional/next-generation parts.

For this reason, extended range electric vehicles are so often compared to plug-in hybrid types as they share a lot of similarities.

We’ll be comparing the two in-depth later on, but for now, know that long range electric cars (REEV types) release fewer emissions when in use.

How is this possible?

The answer to a question like this is pretty simple, really.

An extended range electric vehicle runs on electric power that emits zero emissions. It’s only when the range extender is active that it begins to release CO2.

This puts range extender vehicles in good stead compared to plug-in hybrids or most hybrids, in general.

Discontinued EREVs Of Note

It’s no secret.

EREVs aren’t nearly as popular as they were in the early 2010s, which does limit the number of options you have in the present day.

The price of these vehicles, coupled with the cost of each build, were far too high to compete with other cost-effective options.

It goes without saying, but turning a profit was somewhat difficult towards the end for the likes of Chevrolet and BMW.

Two carmakers that bet big on extended range types.

The Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 were standout vehicles in this lane at one point in time.

The former was discontinued in 2018, despite finding initial success in key markets.

“What we’re finding is that consumers are…carrying around this engine and driving on full electricity,” said Shad Balch, Chevrolet spokesperson, when talking about the automakers shift in focus.

You can still buy new versions of the BMW i3 with REx in countries like America. Doing so will add an additional 40 miles or so, which is a significant improvement over the standard 153-mile version.

BMW is in an exclusive club in that it’s one of the only names that allow you to customise an all-electric EV with a range extender.

UK readers, you can still find range extender versions of the BMW i3 via second-hand car sites at a much lower rate compared to the 2021 version (all-electric).

It won’t be as strong as the later versions, but it does slot into that REEV category if that’s what you’re looking for.

Nissan e-Power: Extended Range Electric Vehicle Success

It’s not all bad.

Nissan are doing some fantastic things in the REEV space with its e-Power series in the east and other parts of the world.

The e-Power system is described as “a highly efficient gasoline engine to generate electricity for the electric motor that propels the vehicle.”

Which is just a roundabout way of saying these vehicles are REEVs.

The automaker debuted its e-Power back in November of 2016 with its Note compact car. Since then, Nissan has found great success with this extended range option across a wide selection of its lineup.

Nissan recently launched the all-new Qashqai in Europe, with the option of an e-Power model.

There’s no telling how many vehicles Nissan plans to extend this option to. All we know is its growing in popularity.

Back in March of this year, Nissan announced that cumulative sales of vehicles with its e-Power electrified powertrain surpassed 500,000 units at the end of that month, a number that continues to grow.

*Word Of Warning* Hybrids and the long range electric car powered by an extender have a shelf life in select areas.

Countries like the UK and the US are implementing policies/rules that apply to EVs throughout the market. In the future, it will be BEVs or nothing.

This will influence how Nissan approaches the extended range electric vehicle in the future as cars with petrol parts will be banned for public sale.

Cars Parked Which type of EV do you have your eye on?

Electric Car Range Comparison

One of the major things holding back certain buyers is electric range — otherwise known as ‘range anxiety’ to some.

Range anxiety is based on this inherent fear that your car will conk out before it reaches the desired destination.

Does this fear have merit?

Some would say yes, but we like to keep an open mind.

If you’re only travelling a limited number of miles (let’s say 20 miles total) to get places, then practically any EV can get you where you need to be.

Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty; to help you make an educated decision when looking for the best long range electric car.

EREVs Vs PHEVs

It’s a pretty one-sided battle if you’re pitting the range of a plug-in hybrid against an extended range electric vehicle.

That’s because PHEVs only offer around 20 to 40 miles of electric range on average.

There are better options out there for pure electric range, like the Karma GS-6 and Polestar 1. Still, these vehicles tend to be on the expensive side.

We’re assuming you want access to vehicles that you can afford?

If we’re talking pure eco-friendly range, then REEVs will win the electric car range comparison race on this occasion.

Just look at how much range you get out of the updated BMW i3 REx if you want the best possible example.

As mentioned, this EV will give you around 140 miles of electric range before needing some assistance, courtesy of the auxiliary unit.

However, suppose the question was which has the best range overall. In that case, we’d probably swing towards a PHEV as you’re more than likely to travel much further, given it has a standard combustion engine in place.

EREVs are so often compared to plug-in hybrid electric cars in that both come outfitted with electric/non-electric parts.

Overall, which is better will depend on your own personal opinion. An opinion formed by how far you travel and your stance on emissions.

For E4TP, we’re going to have to give this one to the REEV.

Winner: EREVs

REEVs Vs BAHVs

Mild hybrid vehicles are like the polar opposite of an extended range electric vehicle in a way.

We say that because BAHVs feature a small electric generator used to assist the engine when it’s time to accelerate or help restart the vehicle.

We know.

This doesn’t really affect the overall charging of the EV, but it certainly adds to the driving experience in the same way a long range electric car (an extended range type) does.

One is a lot more practical in nature — as adding additional range is ideal — whereas the other we’d group into general quality of life changes.

That being said, mild hybrid vehicles do come with regenerative braking, which does benefit the fuel economy of vehicles.

Just not as much as an optimised generator does.

There are more similarities in that you don’t need to charge a mild hybrid, as power is generated within for the most part, but in terms of which is better, we tend to lean more on EREVs.

Perhaps you have an alternate opinion, as the proud owner of a mild hybrid?

Winner: REEVs

EREVs Vs BEVs

A battery-electric vehicle wins hands down, most of the time, if you’re challenging the max electric range capabilities of each.

Still, the differences between the max range of both aren’t too far off from one another.

Let’s use one of Nissan’s prized range extenders as our reference point.

The e-Power Nissan Note can cover up to 21.7km/L, or 51mpg. Which is pretty damn good when you compare it to all-electric vehicles that share a similar price point/range.

So, which is better, in our opinion?

The answer to this question depends on the all-electric vehicle you choose. A BEV, a vehicle that emits zero emissions total, with impeccable range around the £20,000 to £35,000 mark, will beat out what little options you have in the EREV space.

That being said, if you opt for a sustainable all-electric ride that has poor range, then you might want to consider an extended range electric car.

You’ll still be responsible for CO2, but you’ll guarantee you’ll cover great distances on each charge.

And the majority of EREVs don’t need to be plugged in to top up either. We should mention that.

Extended range cars are a great entry point into the world of EVs — the same can be said of PHEVs, if we’re being honest.

All-electric range isn’t where it needs to be at the moment. Although some EVs do give you the range you’re looking for, you just need to pay more to drive around in one.

It’s a double-edged sword, but you aren’t without options if you want all the perks that come with experiencing an electric vehicle up close.

Winner: BEVs

Nissan Qashqai The 2021 Nissan Qashqai could lead the future of REEV types

EREVs: The Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) Explained

Range is everything to an EV.

It’s one of the major factors to consider when looking at an electric car of your own, which is what makes vehicles with extended range all the more enticing.

Sure. These EVs continue to release emissions, but the difference between REEV and PHEV emissions are very noticeable.

Again, this is due to the combustion generator only kicking in when it’s needed.

You’re releasing fewer emissions over the number of miles covered because the vehicle relies mainly on electric power to get it going.

Next time you’re looking for a decent long range electric car, be sure to check out Nissan’s e-Power range (when it’s made available).

That upcoming Nissan Qashqai (2021) could cause significant disruptions in the EV market if reports/message boards and social media are to be believed.

Extended Range Electric Vehicle FAQs

Are EREVs better than PHEVs?

From an emissions standpoint, yes. EREVs emit fewer emissions compared to plug-in hybrid vehicles as the petrol-powered generator will only kick in when it’s needed. A plug-in hybrid simply tops up its range with electric power for a limited number of miles.

Why are extended range vehicles so expensive?

The cost to manufacture these vehicles is higher compared to standard versions of the exact vehicle. It’s for this reason that brands like Chevrolet have since discontinued its extended range lines. Buyers are more likely to take a risk on a PHEV if they’re buying an EV for the first time.

Do range extended EVs emit zero emissions?

Unfortunately, the majority of increased range electric cars use a generator powered by traditional fuel. This means it does emit CO2, but only when it’s replenishing power to the motor and or battery. EREVs emit zero emissions as standard until more energy is required.

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