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"White Box" Range Extender Engines

Consumer Reports blog has an interesting interview with Henrik Fisker, the daddy of the troubled Fisker Karma (he must feel somewhat like Paris Hilton's dad).

In one of his answers, Fisker states that he sees a market for range extender engines which are non-brand, because they are no longer the core of the automobile.

When do you predict electric cars and plug-in hybrids will become more affordable?

Over the coming years, I could see several opportunities where gasoline engines are produced by certain carmakers in very high volume and provided to various carmakers who make electric cars with range extenders, because the gasoline engine only functions as a range extender, so you can take cost out of that gasoline engine in the future. And you can also produce in very high volumes for various carmakers since [wouldn't any longer be] the heart of the automobile.

This is a very interesting prediction, and I think it could be good for companies such as GM, who have expertise in producing small engines that meet stringent emissions requirements and have good reliability.  OEMs could soak up their extra manufacturing capacity by making "white box" engines to sell as range extenders, which they would probably have to sell complete with engine controller and software calibration.   They would, however, be enabling the competition. 

On the other hand, what established automakers are already good at is making small engines.  What is elusive is cost effective development of the electric side of things, such as regenerative braking, battery management, etc.  So perhaps a better idea for the likes of Fisker and Tesla, if they are to survive, is to sell their electric propulsion expertise to laggards in the hybrid-electric space, such as Chrysler and BMW. 

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