Some companies sell their vehicles as "hybrid" vehicles, in that they take both an electric plug and fossil fuels to make them go. Some are referred to as "Self Charging Hybrids", as they do not have an external electrical connection to charge the battery.

Other companies sell their vehicles as "Electric Vehicles" with a "Diesel Range Extender". These take an external electrical connection to charge the battery, as well as diesel to fuel the range extender.

For example, when I was looking to purchase a fully electric vehicle recently, the salesperson for one manufacturer literally said to me, verbatim, that their vehicle "is not a hybrid, it's an EV with a range extender."

To the layperson, these could arguably seem like the same thing, as ultimately the "Diesel Range Extender" is, in reality, an Internal Combustion Engine.

Does the law constrain the way that auto manufacturers can characterize their vehicles and, if so, how?

Specific company names excluded to mitigate the risk of slander.

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    – feetwet
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 16:18
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    Any legal restrictions on auto manufacturers will be based on location. Are you looking for UK answers? Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 17:23
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    I don't know if this enters into any legal definition or not, and I am far from an expert on this, so just a comment: I believe there are some hybrids where the battery power and the ICE are used together at certain times (e.g., acceleration to highway speed) with the ICE turning on and off as needed to supplement overall power, independent of the battery level. On the other hand, a pure "range extender" would never turn on except when the battery is below a certain level. Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 18:11
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    – SJuan76
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 18:30
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    @SJuan76 Policy on this site is that an asker is never required to specify a jurisdiction, and this is not a valid reason to clsoe a question. See law.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1249/… law.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/266/… and law.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/308/… This should not be closed. Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 19:28

2 Answers 2


California (technically states that follow California emissions)

"Range Extended Battery Electric Vehicle" or "BEVx" means a vehicle powered predominantly by a zero emission energy storage device, able to drive the vehicle for more than 75 all-electric miles, and also equipped with a backup APU, which does not operate until the energy storage device is fully depleted, and meeting requirements in subdivision 1962.2(d)(5)(G).

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13 § 1962.2

1962.2(d)(5)(G) requires the vehicle meet TZEV smog-forming emissions standards, including a 15 year/150,000 mile emissions warranty, 10 year battery warranty, and strict evaporative emissions standards.

  • Thanks! Sounds like California makes the same distinction that @ohwilleke mentions - where the "range extender" does not drive the wheels directly. IMO still sounds like a hybrid! Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 9:10
  • @JamesGeddes But California doesn't make that distinction. Nowhere does it say the range extender cannot connect to the wheels after the battery runs out. That is often more efficient than to undergo mechanical to electrical to mechanical conversions. All CA requires is 75 miles of all-electric range, and that the battery be depleted before the motor starts.
    – user71659
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 17:27
  • Oh I misunderstood! Seems like is no definitive answer then - as @ohwilleke says, "The terminology is not uniform or consistent" Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 14:42

The distinction being made is between a "hybrid" in which an internal combustion engine can directly power the wheels in addition to electric motors sometimes powering the wheels directly, and a "range extender" in which an internal combustion engine is used to power a battery, but the electric motor is always the direct source of power for the wheels.

So, for example, used in this sense a Toyota Prius is a hybrid, while a Chevy Volt is an EV with a range extender.

The terminology is not uniform or consistent. The term "hybrid" has one sense that includes a "range extender" and another sense that does not.

  • Would it also be fair to say that a hybrid can continue to travel without need of the battery while a range extender would still need to charge if the battery got low enough?
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 20:03
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    @JoeW I don't have the automative chops to know.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 22:11
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    That's a common misconception on the Volt, led by deceptive marketing. When the battery is out on the Volt, the wheels mechanically connect to the engine above 35 MPH.
    – user71659
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 22:35
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    Thanks @ohwilleke! That explains a lot. It is, perhaps, a bit of a feeble distinction, as "anything derived from heterogeneous sources, or composed of elements of different or incongruous kinds" is a hybrid, but I guess "EV" sounds more "green". Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 9:08

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