Electric vehicles can only go as far as the battery lets them. It’s part of what makes them a tough sell for many Americans; charging doesn’t take a few minutes like topping off a gasoline-powered engine. When it comes to a vehicle so popular and so dear to car lovers, you can’t afford to get an electric version wrong. I’m talking about the upcoming electric Ford F-150.
What’s Ford going to do to possibly alleviate any sort of range anxiety? It might have toolbox-sized solution in store. The Drive reported on patent application images the United States Patent and Trademark Office published Sept. 15 that show the F-150 EV could feature a range-extending engine. To be clear, range extenders don’t power the wheels. Instead, they act like a generator to juice the battery if necessary until drivers can plug the EV in and dump more electrons into the battery pack. For a country like the US, where personal vehicles are the necessary choice of transportation in so many places, more range is always a good thing.
The images appear to show a rather compact range extender that sort of looks like it’s disguised as a toolbox. An engine, exhaust system, fuel tank and the associated electronics all sit packaged in the box. What’s even more clever is the possibility for larger or smaller packs, judging by one of the patent application images. It’s possible Ford could sell different range extenders to provide, say, an extra 50 miles, 100 miles and so on.
What’s completely unclear is what kind of engine would power the range extender. Typically, the engines used in this kind of application are tiny. You don’t want to lug around unnecessary weight in an EV that’s already plenty heavy, thanks to a big battery pack. Perhaps Ford will tap an outside firm to supply a small engine, or has its engineers hard at work on an in-house solution.
Ford didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the patent application images, so we’ll need to wait and see what comes of the possible solution.
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