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Will Hybrid vehicles with a range extender (Chevrolet Volt / Opel Ampera) ever be of any competition to Tesla Motors EV's sales?

At the moment these Hybrid vehicles with a range extender have an all electric range that is way too little. The capacity of the battery is also very small (16 kWh). What if these vehicles with a range extender would get a battery with a larger capacity (85 kWh)?

The bottom line is that people will buy what will suit them best, at the most affordable price. We should keep that in mind.

Every year the development of the battery technology is 8%. Not only for Tesla Motors but for all car companies.

I would like to see your opinion/view on this topic. Let's have a look in the (near) future.

The mass of a large battery and also an ICE engine would be huge. It would make a lousy combination.

People who can't get rid of range anxiety will be attracted to this kind of vehicles. First they drive all electric, and in case of empty battery they can just keep on driving the car, only not electric any more (till the next recharge). That is something that always will apply to them. And I think that people who have a daily range which is rather limited (up to 60 km?), will use this kind of vehicles most of the time all electric. Only a few times per year they will be using petrol (when they make longer trips).

The combined weight of an 85 kWh battery plus a full gas driveline would outweigh the capacity of standard auto tires and suspension and would lose any benefits of economy. Worst of all worlds... And technically not feasible. Would need truck tires as the S is already all aluminum yet the batteries make it among the heaviest sedans on the road. Add an engine and you would lose the range AND be way heavier. Nonstarter.

Trying to build a hybrid with more electric range runs the risk of lugging around a siezed gas engine with curdled gas in the tank. It's too many variables IMHO, and won't progress much further than it is right now.

@ Benz

Not only people with range anxiety, but people without $80K who want an EV can use these as a smart choice at a much lower price point to cover short daily commuting errands etc. in EV mode using only minimal gasoline. If I had a Volt It's all electric range would cover all my daily driving needs. I only exceed 20 - 30 miles per day 5 to 8 times per year.

+1 @Superliner

The Volt is cheaper, and if you don't drive much (I don't), you can use it as an EV 95% of the year.

That said, the 40 kWh Tesla is pretty close in my estimation, in cost, and is an excellent option for people who don't drive a lot. People forget that it has more range than any other non-Tesla EV out there, with an EPA range that should exceed 120 miles.

But the Volt you can lease, and it's made by a major, familiar, car maker, so it's a low commitment way to get into the EV game.

There is one more thing. Even if the battery of the Chevrolet Volt is empty, it will STILL be driven by the electric motor, the electric motor ALWAYS runs the car. The range extender only generates power for the electric motor (because the battery is empty). So, basically the Chevrolet Volt is actually more an EV than it is an ICE. And suppose you would take away the range extender, than the Chevrolet Volt would be a pure EV!!! So, Chevrolet Volt is something else than a Toyota Prius, let that be clear. That is the point that I wanted to tell you about.

There's no practical difference between a Volt and a plug in Prius. They both need oil changes, gas tanks, exhaust systems, fuel and oil filters, air intakes and filters, radiators, transmissions, etc., all maintenance items not found in a pure EV. I have owned four hybrids. Worst of all worlds - all the complexity of an ICE, plus the extra battery and electrical motor system. They are a good interim step and learning experience towards the ultimate solution, a longer-range EV.

@ Pungoteague_Dave

There is a difference, The Volt is a series hybrid, the Prius is a parallel hybrid. Big difference.

Super liner, I said there is no practical difference, emphasis practical. Engineering differences are for weenies. Look at how the cars work as transportation. But the Prius does get much better mileage after the Volt expends its very short pure EV mode. Stupid car unless you never leave the city. For my purposes a Honda Accord would. Get better mileage. But nothing beats the Model S.

What is the difference between a SERIES Hybrid (Chevrolet Volt), and the PARALLEL Hybrid (Toyota Prius)?

When do you call a Hybrid a SERIES Hybrid?
When do you call a Hybrid a PARALLEL Hybrid?

Benz, a SERIES hybrid is always driven by one motor - in the case of the Volt, they claim it is a series hybrid because in normal use the battery runs the car until it is depleted. This is rated at 35 miles and then the engine comes on. The gas engine kicks in as an electrical generator to supply electricity to continue running the electric motor. Unfortunately this cuts gas mileage to only 37 MPG in the Volt while running the gas engine.

A PARALLEL Hybrid can run independently on either drive system - electric OR gasoline. This requires a tranmission linking system and complex switch-over mechanisms. Generally the electric system can run the car only up to a certain speed (25 MPH on the Prius if driven very gently), and then the gas motor kicks on and provides direct power to the wheels. The parallel system can use either and both of the engine and electric motor to supply power, depending on user demand. This allows the Prius to get 45-50 MPG average MPG on highway, well above the Volt's MPG for longer trips. The Volt does much better for short distance and urban driving, as the 38 miles of electric-only range allows some people to never use the gasoline engine for daily needs. This is why some Volt owners claim 99+ MPG, but it is specific to that type of short range use.

This is all very complicated because there is no clear line between the two definitions. Volt fans don't like to admit it, but the Volt actually uses BOTH systems - in some circumstances the car's gasoline motor alone can propel the car without any contribution from the electric motor. So the Volt it is mostly SERIES, but is sometimes PARALLEL. The Prius is always parallel.

The problem with ALL hybrids is that they are the worst of all worlds - they have every complicated element of both ICE cars AND a separate electrical propulsion unit, whether in series or in parallel. I like them as an interim step to full EV, esecially because most of today's EV's can go less than 100 miles on a charge (and the 85 kw Models S practical range limit is only 175 miles). There is no range concern with either format.

Owners still have to change the oil, flush the coolant, change oil, air fuel, and transmission filters on both the Prius and Volt technologies, and they both have exhaust and intake systems, all features not necessary on Tesla vehicles.

The hybrid is the most complex automoblie propulsion system ever invented. The pure EV is the simplest automobile propulsion system ever invented.

What if GM would offer a Chevrolet Volt WITHOUT a range extender? Then the Chevrolet Volt would weigh much lighter, and the range would therefore be longer. But how much would the Chevrolet Volt weigh? And how much would the range be?

We can already say that it would not be of any competition to the Tesla Model S, that's for sure. But anyway, has anyone got an idea?

I have just spoken to technical people from Opel in The Netherlands about the Opel Ampera (which is exactly the same vehicle as the Chevrolet Volt). They told me that the total weight of the Opel Ampera is 1,635 kg, and that the engine that is used as the range extender weighs about 90 kg, and all the other parts that come with the range extender weigh about 60-80 kg. That would mean that if the whole range extender (engine + other parts) would be removed from Opel Ampera, that the total weight of the vehicle would be 150-170 kg less, and that it actually would be an EV. I had thought that weight figures would have been higher, but it appears to be much lighter than that I initially had imagined it would weigh (about 400 kg).

The whole point is that people who actually do not travel long distances and also have range anxiety, that they have the option to choose to buy such a vehicle (Opel Ampere / Chevrolet Volt) instead of an EV, and be free of range anxiety, at the expense of the vehicle being 150-170 kg heavier (because of the range extender). And if you include the weight of the petrol, than it would be about 200 kg. Now that actually does sound like a possible/acceptable solution for these people. This would not be my personal choice, but I can imagine that a certain number of people would choose this option. I personally know that a Tesla EV is a much better option to choose, but there still will be people who think differently.

The Ampera/Volt is a decent offering (american made, no waiting period, ok features and price), but Model S or Roadster is what you REALLY want!

Prius is just ugly!

C-Max has no style but is ok quality wise.

PHEVs are all that some can afford now and are a good step forward, they are not serious competition for Tesla. When Gen III comes out Tesla will be eating their lunch though. I think more ICE buyers will migrate to PHEVs as fuel costs go up, early hybrid drivers will likely migrate towards Tesla...

"Competition" may not be the right word, but the Volt definitely fills a niche for the time being. I am starting to see lots of Volts around my metropolitan area. It's a common occurance now.

You have to remember, one of the reasons that Tesla chose to make a "luxury" car was that it was the best way economically (for Tesla) to make an EV designed without compromises. The battery and other tech is still very expensive. The manufacturing and pricing will get better, and the niche for something like the Volt will shirnk (though I imagine that the ability to use gas will still be attractive to some).

Anyways, overall, I like the Volt, and at one point (before final production) I was pretty interested in getting one. My interest waned after learning that it would only be a four seater and I also am not crazy about the final body design and performance characteristics, but I still think it's a good car, and I still think they look kind of cool when I see them driving around.

They are certainly selling more Volts. I don't know whether it's been that successful for GM, but certainly, for various reasons, the Volt is a car that is appealing to many people, and for many the Model S remains a "dream" car.

Now of course, many people don't realize you could get the base Model S for $52k.

You can have a fun "looks" argument with Jerry33 over at TMC; he thinks the MS is staid and old-fashioned, and the Prius is a beautiful modern design.

The shift towards BEV will occur in more than one step, depending on peoples personal thoughts and situations. All people are different. Some will first get a hybrid, then PHEV, and then BEV. Some will directly choose for the BEV. Eventually everybody will choose to drive a BEV.

The answer to the original question is a definite YES . That is why Tesla need to offer more then other cars until Superstation are as frequent as gas stations. See my post " Closing the Continental Gap under Tesla X

Has anybody considered adding a portable generator to charge the battery on the rare occasion when you do need to go beyond the 250 mile range? You could carry the generator in your trunk and leave it on overnight to charge the battery.

If that option works perhaps at some point in the future Tesla could offer a rentable version of a generator that fits under the hood and could run on gas when the battery runs out much like a Volt.

Here is the spec for a generator:

That would mean that you would have to carry extra weight in the car. But maybe it's not that much of weight?

Weight is ~250 lbs but I would only carry it if I am going beyond the range of the car and do not wish to get stranded. The cool thing would be if the generator could take over when the battery ran out just like the Volt...

I think the maintenance of the new hybrid with range extenders will be a significant differentiator over time. Right now, it's hard to see what that will look like, but in 2-5 years, we'll have a better view of what will go wrong with their motor systems compared to the Model S. Volt's small motor has to work very hard once it kicks in, which impacts on it's longevity. Also, if the gas is not used in a relative, it could damage the engine as well. More complicated then Tesla battery electric only system. The simpler battery/motor system will win out in the end.

@ jk2014

"The simpler battery/motor system will win out in the end."

I agree with you on that. Huge advantage for the Tesla Model S.

This has been hashed to death. A generator cannot charge the car while it is running, or substitute for the battery.

@Brian H

The Model S is the best looking and performing sedan ever made, I think many would agree...

The Prius, Leaf and iMEV are all serious ugly ducklings and all pretty poor on the performance side too.

Looks of course are completely subjective... So if you love the iMEV (my choice of the worst), you are certainly entitled your opinion but yuck! You could paint your VW Thing lavender purple and algee green too....

I know as presently configured the generator cannot charge the car while running. However, it is only a safety feature so you do not drive off with the car plugged in. That feature should be easy to disable or hack. The whole point of the question is whether a 10Kwatt portable generator can charge the battery while the car is parked.

Brian H != Jerry33. That's whose opinion I reported (as a special case). Go argue with him at TMC. ;p

Yes you idea would work but very inefficient, better to have engine running while driving, best to have superstations as frequently as gas stations. Until then I like the range extender trailer, that you could rent from superstations or buy. See closing Continental Gap under model X forum.

There is a lot of misconception about how Range Extender engines work. The Volt used a 1300CC 80hp 4 cylinder connected to a motor generator. There is no starter, the generator has enough power to spin to motor to operation speed. The engine is totally computer controlled, operator has no input except to choose the level you wish to maintain the battery. The computer sets the engine rpm by the load of the generator, most of the time the throttle is operated wide open. When you are driving slow or stop the engine never runs. In normal mode the engine starts automatically when the battery is depleted to about 30%, you may not know it is running unless you see the indication on the dash. The battery in the Volt is water cooled and heated, it is a 16kwh battery but only 10kwh is useable, never depleted below about 15% or charged above 80% . Normal light driving your engine is operating at about 1800 RPM if you accelerate or climb a hill and the battery drain is increased the computer allows the engine to speed up, can be as much as 4000 RPM, (then you will know it is running) If you are going up a long hill say at 90MPH and have not put the car in mountain mode a flag will pop up and say Reduced Power. In my case the car slowed from 90 to 65 near the crest of the hill. You have the option of putting the car in mountain mode before the hill, this will cost you a little gas as it runs the engine harder and brings the battery up to about 50%. Now it takes a very long hill and heavy foot the get reduced power. When we go anymore we usually alway use MM when leaving home. The engine start at 50% with no loss of gas mileage, then switch to normal mode in town using the electric miles where they are more efficient.

I bought a Volt at end of 2012 in part because Model S was not ready and in part because was basically supporting four cars (mine, wife, and two kids). I do not like the added complexity and presumed maintenance costs associated with Volt. But, in my mind most drivers/families won't buy a range limited car as there primary vehicle (at least not today). But if all vehicles say in Chicago, LA, and New York deployed where there was only one car in "family" were replaced with a Volt the fuel consumption would drop dramatically over night and families would have a large increase to disposable monthly income. Particularly when taking into consideration statistics regarding average daily miles commuted. My family will likely always have at least one gasoline or "range unlimited" vehicle but all others can or should be Electric. So when kids move out it makes sense to me to have a Tesla and a Volt or something like that mix. I love running on Electric. I would love it if the Volt battery had more capacity so all of my daughters "high school" related driving were getting done on Electric but I'm glad at least some is (hopefully somewhere between 50-100% on most days). Haven't checked recently or with great accuracly but spent several hours driving in Volt running on gasoline and roughly looked like was getting around 30 miles/gallon though think its rated at 37 (there was wind/rain).
I can't wait to unburden myself of even more of the gas bill with the Model S!! Would be great if price was $20,000 - $30,000 less.