Tesla invents a range extender that works without gasoline

During its presentation in 2019, Tesla announced that its Cybertruck could travel 500 miles (805 km) on a charge. Problem: with 340 miles (550 km) at most, the final range of the electric pick-up, unveiled yesterday, is far from it. A small mention in the characteristics, however, surprised us: a “range extender” would indeed be available. But what is it about? We will explain everything to you.

Tesla Cybertruck // Source: Topgear

There can be a world of difference between theory and practice. The Tesla Cybertruck is a good example: during its presentation in 2019, Elon Musk announced that his electric pickup would be marketed in 2021 for $39,900 and that one version could achieve a range of 500 miles (805 km).

Conclusion: the first customers collected their Cybertrucks last night, November 30, 2023. The numbers have also changed, since the base price is $79,990 (a $60,990 version is planned, but won’t arrive until 2025 ), while the range drops to 340 miles (550 km) maximum.

But here it is, a mysterious “range extender” (“range extender” in the local language) appears in the summary sheet, potentially bringing the range to 470 miles (756 km) – still not the initial objective, but we are getting closer. Today we know more about this strange option.

No, there is still no thermal engine in a Tesla

If this detail surprised us so much, it is because the term “range extender” generally refers to a thermal engine used as a generator to power the battery – without any mechanical link with the wheels, therefore. This is for example what happened with the BMW i3 in its REx version, but also with the Ram 1500 Ramcharger (which we don’t like very much).

Rest assured, the thermal engine is still not ready to arrive in a Tesla. Asked about “plug and play”.

Still, that doesn’t get us much further. Certainly, the Cybertruck’s technical sheet tells us that this pack can increase the range by 120 miles (200 kilometers), but its capacity remained unknown to us – as was that of the main battery, in fact.

The first attempts to the rescue

Fortunately, some international media were able to get behind the wheel of the Tesla pick-up alongside the first deliveries, and the journalists were able to ask the right questions. It is Top Gear which tells us the news: according to the English magazine, the Cybertruck has a 123 kWh battery, while the extender would have a capacity of 50 kWh.

The little (big) bump? This is the extender

Figures which may seem crazy to us, little Europeans (50 kWh, that’s the battery of a Peugeot e-208!)… but which are only average for American electric pick-ups. The Ford F-150 Lightning, the Rivian R1T, the GMC Hummer EV and the Ram 1500 REV all offer batteries of at least the same size, which can go much further: up to 229 kWh for the Ram!

As for the price, if it is not announced anywhere, some smart guys went into the source code of the Tesla website to find a price: it would be 16,000 dollars, or around 14,700 euros. A substantial sum, which may give pause – even more so when you know that this extension takes up a third of the bed once installed, a significant reduction in loading capacity.

A drop of common sense in an ocean of excess?

Come on, let’s see the glass of water half full: what if Tesla had committed to an ecological approach by offering a battery of “reasonable” capacity (with a lot of quotation marks)? We know that installing huge batteries has almost only disadvantages: the car becomes horribly heavy and expensive, consumes more and wears out more quickly.

Tesla Cybertruck // Source: JB / TheiCollection

And it doesn’t stop there: a larger battery logically requires more materials necessary for its construction. Materials which have a real ecological and human cost, not to mention that they risk running out much more quickly than one might believe…

Reducing the size of batteries is also an area of ​​development for many manufacturers in order to reduce the costs of their next electric cars: Ford and Renault are thus on the move. The Cybertruck, an ecological car?

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