Electric vehicles are not popular here in the USA. Last year automakers managed to move just 325,000 EVs in the United States, which is microscopic compared to the 17 million total new cars sold stateside during that same time. There are many reasons as to why EVs aren’t popular here, but most of it comes down to one thing: range anxiety. However, a new report from The Drive suggests that Ford may be working on a solution to this problem for their upcoming electric F-150. It’s a range extender, and it looks like a standard bed-mounted toolbox.
This discovery came by way of some United States Trademark and Patent Office filings, which Ford submitted back in April of 2018 before they were published on September 14. The folks over at The Drive were the first to dig up these documents, which are titled “electrified vehicles with a removable and interchangeable range-extending generators”.
While the title of the patent is fairly self-explanatory, the drawings included with the USPTO filing help to better understand Ford’s plan for the electric F-150. We are given a very basic rundown of how the range-extending system will be organized in figure 1, with figures 2 and 3 providing a detailed view as to how the “toolbox” will mount into the bed. Figure 4 is the most interesting however, as it shows us what the inside of one of these generators will look like.
The removable range-extender consists of four main components: the engine, the exhaust system, the fuel tank, and the electronics. This is not unlike a typical range-extender you might see in a hybrid, however it does raise some packaging questions. Ford’s smallest production engine at the moment is their 1.0L EcoBoost, and even that tiny mill is a bit overkill for this application. The Drive noted that the range extender found in the BMW i3 is a 650cc twin-cylinder engine borrowed from a scooter, which is a bit more appropriate in size. Furthermore, FoMoCo hasn’t filed any patents for a smaller engine in recent years, meaning that they could be looking outside of the company for the motor.
Ford might be onto something here when it comes to these removable range-extending generators. If the automaker can give the electric F-150 a way to cancel out people’s range-anxiety, more buyers may be willing to try the future tech. That said, we’ll have to wait and see if Ford actually plans to roll this system out alongside the battery-powered pickup.