KSPG AG range extender in Fiat 500If you're going to add a gas-burning engine to an electric vehicle, it makes sense to have it be whisper quiet. We haven't heard the engine ourselves, but supplier KSPG AG said during the Detroit Auto Show this week that the range extender it put into a Fiat 500 for test purposes introduced "barely perceptible noise and vibration" levels.

The engine, a two-cylinder V-type with something called "FEVcom vibration compensation" that allows the engine to kick on and power the vehicle without the cabin occupants really being able to notice. The whole unit - including a vertical crankshaft, two generators and gear wheel drive - comes in a ready-to-install support frame, KSPG says. Installed in the 500, it certainly looks tiny (click the image above to see what we mean).

KSPG says the range extender is "largely universally mountable" and could be made cheaply if it were used in a variety of vehicles. KSPG worked with FEV on the project. Read more in the press release below.
Show full PR text
Low-noise range extender dispels battery runtime angst

January 13, 2014

Together with FEV GmbH, KSPG is currently and successfully testing a range extender developed for electric vehicles. The test vehicle, based on the FIAT 500, has already undergone comprehensive tests at KSPG. Customer response to tests conducted at various OEMs underscore the targets achieved in the development of this extender where emphasis was on barely perceptible noise and vibration from the 2-cylinder V-type engine fitted with FEVcom vibration compensation.

Thanks to its dedicated design features including active vibration compensation and convenient mounting location, the system on show performs excellently in the noise- vibration-harshness discipline. As a consequence, the impression of low-noise electric propulsion hardly suffers whenever the extender goes about its work.

The range extender allows vast flexibility in the configuration of its operating strategy. Depending on the timing and load conditions for when it starts up, the unit's "operating philosophy" can be very closely adapted to any given conditions.

The extender's advantages are to allow a reduction in battery size and cost and in the related weight. Also, the car can maintain its customary travel range without having to stop for lengthy recharging. It dispels "runtime angst," a phenomenon not to be underestimated when introducing electric mobility.

Experts and legislators generally see range extenders as paving the way for widespread acceptance of electric vehicles and assume that an entirely new category of very small gasoline engines will arise to make them a reality. This presents attractive possibilities for suppliers, given that these extenders are largely unsuited for assembly on currently available production lines and initial unit quantities will possibly not be very high. KSPG has both a diversified product portfolio and the necessary development competencies. The largely universally mountable module furthermore allows for economies of scale and limits development and application costs.

The new KSPG power unit consists of a two-cylinder, V-type gasoline engine with a vertically positioned crankshaft and two generators with gear wheel drive. Except for the fuel tank and the radiator, all components are mounted on a ready-to-install support frame. The vertical crankshaft requires only a short construction height, such that the module can be integrated beneath the floor of a small passenger vehicle or, for example, be tucked neatly within a spare wheel recess. This installation option offers the easiest and least expensive modification procedure relative to conventional vehicle construction and leaves room for attractive compact-vehicle packaging and styling options.

The power unit is conceived in such a way that the vehicle interfaces are reduced to a minimum. Vehicle integration thus proves comparatively unproblematic and installation or disassembly can be performed easily and efficiently. This enables the range extender to be reduced to an additional accessory equipment option. The automobile can thus be delivered with or without a range extender, thus allowing for a strategy of modularity.

Bridge technology reduces costs

The current market situation for electric vehicles looks as if many consumers are afraid that battery range will be insufficient ("range angst"). They also appear to shy away from the high added costs. A bridge technology like that employed in range extenders could expedite market entry for a generation of battery-powered vehicles and support legislators in their efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

The range extender is also an elegant solution to further constraints. At temperatures in which the battery tends to work inefficiently when re-/discharging, the range extender can generate extra heat or cold which in turn helps reduce CO2 . The range extender allows normal use of heating and air-conditioning functions without the fear of excessive battery discharge.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      Lazybones
      • 6 Months Ago
      The best method to generate electricity for extended range is a micro turbine. By its nature it will have less vibration and small packaging (compared to the typical 3 cylinder engine). There is a reason power companies don't use piston engine technology to power our homes. The above technology is a wasted effort.
        jebibudala
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Lazybones
        I'm a huge fan of gas turbine engines. I'm not sure if one exists that's efficient enough. Instead they should just slap on an APU from an aircraft and call it a day. That'd be badass.
        Joseph Brody
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Lazybones
        My company explored this for series hybrid tracked vehicles (FCS-MGV), but even though they build prototypes that worked well, a "high speed diesel" won out.
        BipDBo
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Lazybones
        The thermodynamic cycle of a turbine engine makes it more efficient the larger it is. Large turbine engines are used as you know, to power airplane, but also on a larger scale, power plants. When they get big, they are very efficient, a little bit more efficient than any internal combustion engine of the same power output, but with cleaner emissions and smaller size. When they are small, however, they put off a greater portion of heat and produce a smaller amount of usable energy. On a small scale, like a car's range extender, ICE wins on efficiency. Not to mention, those little blades are expensive to manufacture. Turbines also work well under a very specific power out put. They don't like to be throttled. This fact would not be such a detriment as a car's range extender, but it's really the underlying reason for the failure of previous attempts to make turbine powered cars like the Chrysler CR program in the 50s and 60s. They made a lot of turbine car prototypes, but only turbine that they put into production was for the M1 Abrams tank, and that is a well hated engine. The queen Mary 2 uses both turbines and diesels, The turbines are used at high speeds, both their efficiency is low at low speeds, so they kick the diesels on for low speed cruising. They also use the turbine for power generation when docked at an environmentally sensitive port.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Lazybones
        I'm not sure if this is true or not. Got any data to prove it, lazybones?
      yoat
      • 6 Months Ago
      Apparently, old bad habits of the past decades are addictive. If you can't break them, Then at least make them as attractive as possible. Here is an option as a REx that burns fossils but with an astounding efficiency. It's flexi-fuel capabilities are just as astounding. One of its best possibilities is to fuel it with NG or even better with sythesized methane gas which would render it emmisions neutral. http://www.dlr.de/dlr/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-10084/161_read-8869/year-all/
        paulwesterberg
        • 6 Months Ago
        @yoat
        That is an interesting concept. Much smaller & more compact than anything else on the market today. I wonder how it would hold up in the real world though - it didn't look like there was any coolant or heat dissipation strategy. Perhaps it is just air cooled? Even with a small combustion motor there could be a lot of waste heat produced. Also I wonder about emissions and what kind of controls are needed.
        Edge
        • 6 Months Ago
        @yoat
        Other companies have been working on these type of engines for years, yet I have yet to hear of one be put into practical use. My guess is, that there is problems having the combustion sustained.
          yoat
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Edge
          You're quite right. Since the 1930s, R&D has been going on worldwide on this engine type but up to now no one was able to deliver a functionable proof of concept. According to DLR, the engine will be launched to market in two to three years from now.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 6 Months Ago
      Very cool! that's just what we need. V- type, low RPM, balanced and quiet range extenders. The ideal engine design for a range extender and a primary drive gasoline engine definitely diverge. I think this company gets it, and i hope their investment pays off.
      EZEE2
      • 6 Months Ago
      Good! I would love an EV but where I live and my job make them impractical. Even for some longer trips, it would eliminate range anxiety.
      paulwesterberg
      • 6 Months Ago
      It will be interesting to see what kind of mileage a vehicle can get when using a range extender like this or the I3 Rex. Like the I3 maximum speed/power levels may be reduced but as long as you can keep cruising at highway speed it seems like a great way to allow low range BEV vehicles without range restrictions until faster charging systems are more widely installed.
      Cayman
      • 6 Months Ago
      Sorry, but I would think if you're going to add a gas engine to an electric vehicle it makes more sense to make sure it's light, compact, inexpensive and reliable with only periodic usage before worrying about making it whisper quiet. Having the extender be able to kick on without the passengers noticing would be well down my list of priorities. In fact, there probably are some advantages to them knowing its on (beyond an indicator light).
        2 wheeled menace
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Cayman
        That's kind of the opposite of my priorities. You don't really need a big engine for this job, so weight isn't a huge issue. If you're driving an EV, the last thing you want to hear and feel is the rumble of an internal combustion engine, so in my opinion, i think the stealth factor is a lot more important.
      jebibudala
      • 6 Months Ago
      Finally a proper deployment of an appropriately sized range extended ICE engine.
    • Load More Comments