KSPG is 100-year-old automotive supplier that could, if it wanted to, produce a complete engine. That's not the company's plan, though, since it doesn't want to compete against its many customers. Therefore, the range extender concept engine that KSPG had on display at the Detroit Auto Show is something a bit new and different, both for the company and for the industry. It is a complete engine, but not one designed to power a car on its own. Instead, it is ready to be dropped into someone's EV to provide a bit of petroleum assurance to combat this range anxiety thing we keep hearing about.

Designed to fit into a space about the size of a spare wheel well, the two-cylinder, four-stroke,
137-pound engine is a product of both KSPG and FEV. It is meant to turn an EV into a serial hybird, as the engine is only there to generate electric power. That's why it doesn't matter where you put it, and the small size gives designers and engineers plenty of flexibility. KSPG Automotive's Gerd Kleinert told AutoblogGreen that this is a solution for our time.

"We are convinced that this is a kind of bridge technology from the current combustion engine to electric drive," he said. "The biggest point in electric cars is still the battery. If somone offers a battery that is the szie of a 50-liter [13.2-gallon] gas tank with the same energy content with the same weight that you can recharge it in three minutes, everyone would drive electric." But those vehicles aren't here quite yet. "That's the reason we think there is a need for this bridge technology becuase it guarantees you you will get home, even if you run out of electricity. You only need a small battery, which drives the cost down." Because, if you take some of the cost out of the pack and put it into the KSPG range extender, you can still use your car as an EV most days and retain the ability to go on a road trip when you want to.

KSPG began working on the range-extender project about a year ago, Kleinert said, adding that after the engine's introduction at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 KSPG began talking to three potential customers about using this engine in their EVs. If that comes to pass, KSPG's production capacity could be 10,000 units a year, to start, Kleinert said. A full vehicle prototype is due in the summer of 2012 to try and generate more interest. Kleinert wouldn't say how much the engine would cost, just that it would be at "an acceptable price."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 73 Comments
      bvz
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would love it if this could be an optional extra for a normal EV. Something that you could buy (or rent) and plug into the back of your car (either flush underneath so you cannot see it, or attached to the back or somewhere). You would need a built in gas tank (on the car, not on this unit) and some way to cool the engine (either air cool or some sort of water cooling system that is already built into the car). This way you could buy something like a leaf and use it as an EV all week long, but get extended range when you feel you need it without having to haul around all that extra stuff all the time. I don't like the idea of it being on a trailer though...
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @bvz
        Lots of people dislike the trailer idea. But something that is going to be able to provide the power needed, at a reasonable cost... usually is too heavy to mount on the back of a small EV (exceeds tongue weight, or too far rear of the axle) or Something that is powerful enough, yet light enough... usually is way too expensive to develop or much less market to EV owners who are only gonna rent it for occasional trips.
      fairfireman21
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is one HOT IDEA. Run it when needed and don't when not. If this was fairly cheap and could be a retrofit for all EVs, like they said you could drop the price of the car with a smaller battery install this and you would have a full use EV.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fairfireman21
        Its not really as simple as that. Batteries are optimised for the job they are to do. The 24kwh battery in the Leaf will rarely be run down, as mostly people do maybe 30 miles or so a day, and would charge/discharge half as often as a 12kwh one. So the chemistry and costs engineers might choose for a full EV, and even the cooling system, may differ significantly from the optimum for a battery pack with an RE. The software is also of course going to differ. This is not to say that it can't be done, but it ain't simple and may have consequences for battery life unless you design for it from the start.
          fairfireman21
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Is what I said something that they said in the article. I think you are saying just the oposite of what they said in the article.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      I like both and it seems to me that there is plenty of room for both. Oddly enough, if you go outside the US you do not actually fall off the edge of the world - that seems to be a rumour, and more than one car per household is not as common in many other places! ;-)
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      Volt
        Ziv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        I think that this would be a perfect way to point out that the Pikes Peak scenario that GM planned on overcoming isn't needed for the majority of buyers. Now that the Volt has shown that EREV is a no compromise choice, compromises are more acceptable, if that makes sense. But how many ponies does this thing put out, anyway? Did I miss something? And in the cars available now, (the Leaf, the FFE, the iMIEV) is there room? And how big would the gas tank be?
          theflew
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          Don't forget the Volt requires you to go into mountain mode prior to doing a Pike Peak type of climb at speed. This thing would limp up Pikes Peak. GM had to make the Volt a no compromise vehicle, otherwise you might as well choose a 100% EV. I wouldn't want a car that says if you encounter a certain type of terrain your performance could be greatly decreased. Cars cost to much money to compromise especially since there are other vehicles on the road that don't.
      BipDBo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think this is brilliant, but I wonder how efficient it would ultimately be. I don't like it between the rear wheels though. That's where the motor belongs.
      nbsr
      • 3 Years Ago
      More information: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/01/kspg-20120111.html in short: 800cc, 30kW, 60kg, low vibration. "KSPG analysis found that 26 kW was sufficient to move the car up a grade of 3% at 100 km/h; they chose 30 kW." IMHO they are marketing it wrong. This is a range extender, even if it covers only 66% of average power expenditure that's still potentially 3x longer range. That's enough even for a fairly large electric car. Plus, of course, we get a "safety option" of returning home at low speed with a fully depleted battery, but I wouldn't call it a main application.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      That would be even better. A lot simpler and the state tax man wouldn't charge you.
      russellbgeister
      • 3 Years Ago
      there seems to be some confusion here this thing will not drive your ev its designed to recharge your battery it might give you a few mph in an emergency but thats all .its designed to recharge the battery, if its running while your driving it will certianly add range but i'd be really carefull about charging whilst discharging lithiums dont really like that much.best to stop turn it on and go smell the roes's .
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @russellbgeister
        I think the confusion is yours. It is designed to power the EV during constant load driving... like cruising down flat terrain at highway speeds. Acceleration, hill-climbing, etc... will be done by the main battery pack. http://ecomodder.com/forum/tool-aero-rolling-resistance.php Most highway travel will require less than 25 KW constant... which this engine CAN and WILL do. This "range-extender" puts out up to 30 KW of power. That is not something to use a casual "recharge" since high power will limit the usuable life cycle of the pack. "charging whilst discharging" is non-sense. If the Motor controller requests 20 KW of power and the engine puts out 30 KW.. 10 KW can go into the battery.. but the battery will NOT discharge at all. *most likely, the engine will throttle down to meet, not exceed, the demand. If the Motor controller requests 60 KW of power and the engine puts out 30 KW.. 30 KW come from the battery.. but the battery will NOT charge at all. There is no such thing as "charging whilst discharging".
        JP
        • 3 Years Ago
        @russellbgeister
        What mechanism would cause a lithium cell to be damaged by charging while discharging?
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @russellbgeister
        Lithium batteries are 'happiest' at around a 50% charge state rather than completely topped up or running on their last dregs. Since an RE can provide security against running out of electricity users can more frequently adopt a strategy of topping up to 80% rather than completely, and the RE will keep the battery charge from dropping too much if you choose the right program. For the same size battery pack this should extend rather than decrease battery life.
      sirvixisvexed
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cue the foaming mouths of EV purists screaming blood, oil, dollar sign eyes, and scandal....nnnnnnow
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 3 Years Ago
        @sirvixisvexed
        I am he of which you speak Sirvixedvexdvavoo. Put this think on a damn trailer if it is any good and call it a day. I certainly don't want to haul it around while I am EVing that would be preposterous!
          BipDBo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          What if you can hang it off the back kind of like the way some SUVs hold a spare tire?
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Yea, I looked up trailer hitches for Yari and they will take a 300 lbs tong weight. Would make it easier to back up but I really don't have a problem with that. A trailer would distribute the wieght better.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @sirvixisvexed
        reporting for duty.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      My buying bids are doing something. This can be easilly installed in a volt or fisker karma for better mpg in gasoline operation. I always said that the range extender can be small, compacted, integrated, efficient, cheap and installed and tested and garenteed before i trow some cash toward a car. This compagny should now install this in volt, leaf, teslas and imiev and fisker karmas to obtain the operationnal datas about mpg and performance in gasoline operation before someone start selling a solid-state battery or ibm battery witch will drive the cost of this range extender to cheaper prices.
        theflew
        • 3 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        How is this going to power the Volt's 110kw electric motor, let alone the Karma's. The Volt doesn't run it's generator until the battery has deplete,d so there's a good chance it doesn't run on a daily basis. Using a small range extended you have to run it constantly to charge the batteries to insure you have enough power available.
          goodoldgorr
          • 3 Years Ago
          @theflew
          Will you read, please, what is written and said by these small generator marketers. This serve to replenish the battery and do not propel the car all by itself, it's a simple question of power electrical impedance controlled by programmed adaptive micro-electronics like a 110 volts 60 hz wall plug or a 220 volts 60 hz wall or boxed home electrical outlet will do if plugged to an impedance adapted electrical charger. Basically it is just to understand the specifications impedance adaptation and good old voltage, frequency, resistance, capacitance, rectification, inversion, current, wiring, isolation, switchs, soldering, bolts, contacts, amperage. It's a simple as that. The smallest, the easier the energy impedance is for both for acceleration, breaking, suspention, space and cost saving.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      There is a comprehensive analysis of various range extender technologies including this one available here: http://www.atcentre.nl/images/stories/publications/public/atc%20trend%20analysis%20-%20range%20extender%20technology.pdf
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Here is what they wrote about KSPG: Kolbenschmidt Pierburg (KSPG) and FEV Motorentechnik GmbH www.kspg-ag.de 2-cylinder, V-type gasoline engine with vertical crankshaft and two generators with gear wheel drive. Except fuel tank and radiator, all components are mounted on support frame. Construction optimized for minimal NVH. 2nd Demonstration Model presented at IAA 2011 Advantages: Low costs. Low emissions. Short time to market. Short construction height, minimum of interfaces, can be integrated in existing vehicle (modification). Disadvantages: Noise and vibrations. Aftertreatment necessary to compensate high raw emssions. 30kW 60 kg
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Its pretty good, but I prefer the Lotus for near term solutions: LOTUS ENGINEERING UNITED KINGDOM Potash Lane, Hethel, Norwich NR14 8EZ United Kingdom www.lotuscars.com/engin eering/en/lotus-rangeextender- engine Three-cylinder 1.2 liter engine optimized between two operating points, giving 15 kW of electrical power at 1,500 rpm and 35 kW at 3,500 rpm via the integrated electrical generator. Its low mass of 56 kg makes it ideal for the series hybrid drivetrain configurations for which it is designed. 2nd Ready for series production. Has been undergoing testing in a range of vehicles, incl. Jaguar’s Limo- Green Low costs if produced in series of 30.000 or more. Proven technology. Low weight design. Short time to market. Multifuel capability (alcohol-based fuels or gasoline). Noise and vibrations. Aftertreatment necessary to compensate high raw emssions. 35 kW engine 56 kg 86 kg incl. oil, coolant, radiator, generator etc NB They say the radiator, coolant etc and the generator which is not built in as it is in the other design adds 30kgs to the weight, which is pretty good and presumably about the same for the KSPG I particularly like the ability to use a variety of fuels and the two selectable outputs, so it is easy to use at low revs as a battery topper.
        goodoldgorr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        I've read this and they say that the volt ice is sometime driving directly and mechanically the wheels and this is a mistake. The rest of the article was nice.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Nice link, thanks!
      otiswild
      • 3 Years Ago
      I bet a microturbine would be lighter, mechanically simpler, and more efficient. And being able to mount it within the tongue weight of a class 2 trailer? That would be a super win. http://www.bladonjets.com/news/shrinking-the-aircraft-jet-engine/
        Ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @otiswild
        There was a Nissan Leaf story from last week showing a guy that built something like that.
        Ziv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @otiswild
        I was under the impression that a turbine was pretty much perfect, except for the fact that it would cost 5 or 6 times what an ICE would. Which makes it better than a fuel cell for the real world, but still too expensive for anything other than a demonstration fleet.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          LTAW: From the link I gave above fuel cell range extenders are a winner on all counts, save for time to market and cost. So that would tend to support the argument that you and I have both made, that fuel cells are the way to go for RE's longer term. Most places in the world just aren't as worried as some are in the States about infrastructure costs to build out, for instance, a hydrogen network as they consistently spend much more than the US on infrastructure and many already have a variety of fuels available at petrol stations.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          @Joe: That is pretty much what I said. You do not enumerate the advantages from figure 2: NV Maintenance Raw Emissions Efficiency (Presumably at point of use) I think those advantages are tougher for other technologies to match than it is for fuel cells to reach cost targets, good enough for both infrastructure and hydrogen production cost, eventually from other sources than fossil fuels. Your costs for hydrogen fuelling stations ignore the fact that with anything like present technology you would need to power trucks some other way for longer distances, and so the volumes should be sufficient to amortise infrastructure.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          "From the link I gave above fuel cell range extenders are a winner on all counts" Um.. no! The link you gave: http://www.atcentre.nl/images/stories/publications/public/atc%20trend%20analysis%20-%20range%20extender%20technology.pdf They specifically list the disadvantages: "No H2 infrastructure available. High costs. No H2 available from renewable sources. Long time to market." ================== The problem with building up a new infrastructure (which is likely to cost MORE, not less, than estimates.. since those low estimates are done by organizations that stand to profit) for range extenders will not have a big enough market. And is thereby I poor investment (unless you can convince congress to use tax payer money). The gasoline infrastructure already exists... and as PHEVs come to market, we should be using less and less gasoline. We will always have heavy duty vehicles that need gasoline/diesel (and hopefully biofuels can replace them) and many light duty vehicles that need the extra range that batteries cannot provide. But why spend billions extra to build H2 infrastructure just to give range extenders fuel. The whole point of a range extended EV (RE-EV) is to use the battery as much as possible. And as batteries get better, people will use the range extender less and less. What business sense is it to build a H2 fueling station if each customer only visits for 5 kg of H2 every 2 or 3 months? How much would each kg of H2 cost at that sales volume? The economics are being shown today... they chose gasoline since the infrastructure already exists.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          A small fuel cell could cost less than a microturbine, once they're made in volume. http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/pdfs/progress11/v_0_fuel_cells_overview_2011.pdf
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @otiswild
        See the link I gave above for a list of RE microturbines available and evaluation.
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