Ford Patents Range Extender That Could Go in F-150 Electric Pickup

  • Ford has patented a removable range extender for an electric pickup that sits in the bed and resembles a toolbox.
  • The range extender would act as a generator, recharging the battery of the vehicle using a small motor.
  • The system could potentially make its way into the upcoming electric Ford F-150.

    While automakers rush to get their electric trucks on the road, there are likely potential buyers who might still be concerned about range, especially in areas without a robust charging-station infrastructure. Ford might have a solution for those customers: a modular range extender that sits in the bed of a truck.

    The Drive first spotted the patent, submitted in April 2018 and published on September 15, 2020. Its illustrations show a removable range extender that sits in the bed of a truck and looks like a toolbox. Inside the device would be a small motor, fuel tank, exhaust system, and electronics needed to hook it up to an electric truck.

    The abstract for the patent states: “This disclosure details electrified vehicles that are equipped with removable generators for increasing the electric range of the vehicles. An exemplary electrified vehicle includes a cargo space, such as a truck bed, and a generator removably positioned within the cargo space. The generator is adapted to selectively supply power for either charging a battery pack of the electrified vehicle or for propelling one or more vehicle drive wheels. In some embodiments, the generator is shaped like, and therefore disguised as, a toolbox.”

    ford patent

    Ford

    The system would work similarly to the range extender found in the BMW i3. A small motor acts as a generator to recharge the battery of the vehicle to limit the need for charging. It could also keep the truck on the road with a trip to a gas station.

    The system would be helpful in areas where charging might not be readily available. The fact that it would be removable means when it’s not in use, the driver would reclaim that portion of their bed. Of course, it might just make more sense to sell an electric truck with a range extender built-in under the hood instead of asking customers to lose a portion of their cargo area.

    As The Drive pointed out, the small engine needed for this type of system isn’t currently available from Ford. BMW uses a 650-cc twin-cylinder scooter motor for the system in its i3. For Ford’s range extender to be truly modular, it would need to be light enough for a couple of people to remove together. Ford would either have to use another manufacturer’s motor or build its own.

    A patent doesn’t necessarily mean that something will make its way to the market. But at least it looks like Ford is thinking about how it can woo prospective electric-truck buyers who are concerned with EV range.

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