Are you in the market for a new vehicle? Chances are, you’ve stumbled upon an electric vehicle or two as you’ve explored. You may be wondering, though, how do electric cars work, exactly? Well, electric cars are powered by electricity, of course. Electric power is considered clean energy, as it produces zero emissions. This positive impact on the environment, amongst many other reasons, make EVs an attractive option for drivers.
Read on to learn more about how they work and see if an EV could be a potential option for you!
The Innerworkings of Electric Cars
Electric cars work by converting electrical energy into mechanical energy, allowing them to drive.
When an electric vehicle is charged, the battery will hold the energy. Then, when you start the vehicle, this DC (direct current) energy will be converted to alternating current (AC) energy by the vehicle’s inverter. From there, the alternating current will be converted to mechanical energy, allowing the vehicle to propel forward.
As briefly touched on above, the battery pack is responsible for storing electrical energy when you plug the vehicle in. The stored energy powers various accessories in addition to the electric motor. A controller modulates how the electrical energy flows into the motor depending on how the driver accelerates. The electric motor then obtains electric power from the battery pack, converting it into mechanical energy, which is then directed to the transmission to turn the wheels – as outlined above.
Who Are the Key Players?
So, in summation, these parts will play a key role for any electric vehicle:
- Battery pack: It stores electrical energy to power various components and the electric motor.
- Electric motor: It converts electrical energy from the battery into mechanical energy. It is connected to the transmission, tasked with driving the wheels.
- Transmission: It uses the mechanical energy produced by the engine to power the wheels.
Other important parts include a cooling system, Power Electronics Controller (PEC), an auxiliary battery, DC to AC converter (inverter), an onboard charging system, and a charging port.
How to Drive an Electric Car
Curious how you should drive your electric car? Below are some notes on what type of experience you can expect to find behind the wheel.
EVs are synonymous with ‘quick-off-the-blocks’ instant forward propulsion and acceleration. The torque produces motion in the motor, and the maximum torque is instantly obtained when you press the accelerator pedal. Some EVs have recorded the highest 0-60 acceleration, essential when passing slower vehicles, entering highways, and avoiding obstructions.
EVs rely on large batteries, which sit at the base of the vehicle in between the front axle and rear axle. This means that electric cars have a much lower center of gravity compared to most traditional vehicles. The low center of gravity is critical in slippery road conditions and when negotiating corners. Further, it improves the vehicle’s handling, and therefore, safety experience by minimizing the possibility of rollovers.
When you apply brakes in an EV, regenerative braking obtains energy from the car’s momentum. The electric power is then sent back to the battery pack for storage. When driving in regenerative braking mode, the vehicle will slow down faster than gas cars. Regenerative braking also enables one pedal drive, and the brake pedal is less engaged.
How to Charge an EV – How Can Your Restore Battery Life?
When your ride starts to run low on battery life, the time will come to charge it. The primary charging principle will be charging from either a dedicated charging station or household power outlet. There are three levels of EV charging depending on the electrical energy flow capacity of the station/outlet.
- Level 1 charging: It entails charging an EV with a 120-volt power outlet, often found in most households. You can plug the onboard charger into the outlet and leave your car to charge overnight.
- Level 2 charging: It is found in public power stations. If the car manufacturer makes it available, you can install a charging station with a 240-volt power outlet at your home, too. The duration of charging is minimized in comparison to 120-volt charging.
- Level 3 charging: This system utilizes DC fast chargers that EV manufacturers set up at strategic locations. The charging speed is fast, usually just over one hour until full charge. Your EV, however, must be compatible with quick charging to allow you to utilize Level 3 charging stations.
Are you Ready to Go Electric?
Interested in driving an electric vehicle? Well, now that you know more about how electric cars work, you’ll be better positioned to get behind the wheel!