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Cooley On Cars
Car Tech 101: Plug-in hybrids vs. range extender hybridsThe Plug-in hybrid and range extender hybrid are still mystifying, so we've got the simple bottom line on the murky difference between them.
-Okay, this is a Prius Plug-in. Differs from the standard Prius, the household name of hybrid cars in three important ways. First of all, it's got a much bigger electric storage battery than a standard Prius Hybrid. Second, it's got a charging port over here. You can hook it up to a charger, even a fast charger to get power off the grid, not just by driving. Third, it's got software that is utilized that additional battery power to run on electric longer up to 13 miles and faster up to 62 miles per hour, all much higher numbers than a standard Prius Hybrid. But of course, this car still has a gas engine that is involved in most of its driving in a blended mode with that electric motor, certainly, if you drive more than just 12 or 13 miles between charges. If you wanna go more electrified than a plug-in hybrid, then you go to a range extender. Now, the Mac daddy of range extenders these days is clearly this car, the Fisker Karma. Let's start with what it has in common with that Toyota Prius Plug-in. First of fall, they both have very large capacity batteries. And this car is most of what's lying under the belly here. Like a Prius Plug-in, it's got that charging port over there, so you can plug this guy in and get your first head start on pure electric driving, in this case 50 miles on that charge, but then things get different under the hood. A range extender like this only runs on electricity. Yes, it's got a gas engine, but that never drives the road wheels. All that it does is turn a generator that either powers the battery or can also send current directly to the electric motors that move this thing, but never is it moving by the power of the gas engine directly. That's a key distinction. Now, the reason you put a gas engine her at all is because you're able to run at very controlled RPMs and loads in its sweet spot. So, it just sips gas while generating a lot of electricity. By the way, it's got a solar roof as well. All that comes together to give this guy 50 miles of pure electric driving before it has to be augmented with power generated on the fly. As long as you have gas, you have electricity. It's kind of this weird thing about range extenders, but very handy. No range anxiety.