Mercedes would have abandoned the development of electric cars with range extenders

Adding an internal combustion engine to an electric car to overcome the range constraints associated with this technology is tempting. Even Tesla considered such a solution during the development of the Model S, then codenamed WhiteStar.

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Since then, several models have been equipped with it, such as the BMW i3 REx or the Mazda MX-30 R-EV, the latest representative of this technology to be marketed in France.

Remember that electric cars with range extenders fall into the same category as plug-in hybrids. In France, they are therefore not eligible for the ecological bonus, among other advantages reserved for 100% electric cars. On a technical level, there is nothing to clearly distinguish these two technologies. Generally speaking, electric models with range extenders are derived from 100% electric cars, while plug-in hybrids are developed from thermal models, but this is not an absolute rule.

Most of the time, range extender electric cars therefore have a greater electric range than plug-in hybrid cars, but a smaller internal combustion engine. However, the approximately 85 km electric range of the Mazda MX-30 R-EV is reached or even exceeded by several plug-in hybrid models.

Furthermore, most plug-in hybrid cars operate as a parallel or series-parallel hybrid, with a mechanical connection between the thermal engine and the wheels. Electric cars with range extenders are most often series hybrids, where the internal combustion engine can only recharge the battery, like a generator. Again, however, this is not an absolute rule.

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A Mercedes EQS prototype with a range extender

Mercedes would have explored this technological solution using a prototype of its large EQS electric sedan. A 1.0 liter twin-cylinder turbo engine would have been grafted under its hood, functioning as a generator (series hybrid), explains a source close to the matter to Coach. The engine would have been developed from the four-cylinder M254, somehow cut in two and adapted to operate according to the Miller cycle, more efficient to run at a stabilized speed.

The exhaust outlets would have been mounted at the front of the car, like on a Fisker Karma. The only engine used to propel the prototype would therefore be electric and mounted on the rear axle, with a power of just over 270 hp. It would be powered by a lithium-ion battery integrated into the floor, but with a capacity approximately 50% lower than on board a classic EQS. Without specifying the tank capacity, the source ofCoach explains that the total autonomy of the prototype would exceed that of the EQS 450 +, which announced a 783 km range before its restyling.

“We created prototypes based on existing models, both for design and for road testing”explains the source. “Ultimately, we concluded that the range extender powertrain is a transitional technology that has a relatively short-term sales advantage and relatively high production costs.” Mercedes would therefore prefer to focus on the development of its 100% electric cars. The restyling of the Mercedes EQS allows it to reach up to 822 km of autonomy, without burning a drop of gasoline. Of course, charging an electric car still takes longer than filling up a tank of fuel, although charging times tend to shorten quickly.

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