How does Electric Car work? In detail

If you want to learn how an electric cars works keep reading.

Electric cars and bikes are something which keeps popping up all the time on headlines. They are gaining attractions of everyone because of their key features which distinguish them from IC(internal combustion) Engine-powered vehicles. Many countries have decided to go fully electric by 2030.

Types of Electric Cars:

  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) – This type of car is totally dependent on battery and needs plug-in charging.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) – This type of car has both electric motor and an IC engine and switches to the IC engine when batteries are discharged and need plug-in charging. 
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)  – This type of car also has an electric motor and IC engine but can’t be charged via plugging in. The battery pack in the car can be charged only through regenerative braking. 

The key features of Electric Vehicles are:

  • Zero or near to zero-emission which makes them eco-friendly.
  • Low running cost.
  • Less Maintenance.
  • Low noise.
  • Instant Torque delivery.
  • Tax Credits.

Coming back to EVs,

How an Electric Car Works?

To understand the working of electric cars we will have to look inside how these cars are made and what parts are used as the engine, fuel, gearbox, transmission, etc.

Fuel used in electric cars:

The fuel used in electric cars is lithium-ion batteries. Some vehicles also use lead-acid batteries but li-ion is preferred more because of its higher energy-density ratio, it means the li-ion battery can store more energy compared to its weight.

Other advantages of lithium-ion batteries are:

  • Low maintenance
  • Rechargeable battery.
  • Supports fast charging

Many numbers of li-ion cells are connected in series and parallel to make a battery pack of the desired rating. 

Engine of electric cars:

Electric Cars are powered through an electric motor. Motors convert electrical energy into mechanical energy to drive the car. Motors used in electric cars are 

  • DC Series Motor 
  • Brushless DC Motor
  • Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM)
  • Three Phase AC Induction Motors Switched Reluctance Motors (SRM)

Tesla Model S uses 3 phase induction ac motor. These motors deliver instantaneous torque, unlike IC engine-powered cars.


An inverter is a device that converts ac to dc and vice versa. In the case of ac induction motor used in EVs, this inverter converts direct current from battery to alternating current.

It can also control the torque of EV. This inverter also provides regenerative braking in induction motor electric vehicles by reducing the synchronous speed of the motor. It plays as a brain for the motor. 

Battery Charger:

The electric car can be charged in two ways the first is ac charging and the second is dc fast charging.

The EV comes with an onboard charger that converts the AC power supply to DC power to charge the battery. 

While when we use DC fast-charging,  this onboard charger is bypassed and the current is directly fed to the battery. Dc charging offers high charging speeds and can charge the car up to 80% in about 45-50 minutes. 

To know in detail about AC and DC fast charging check this out Why DC chargers are faster than AC chargers in EV | AC vs DC charging

Transmission in Electric Cars:

As electric motors can operate in a wide range of operating conditions, it doesn’t require multiple gears like a conventional gas or diesel cars. EVs use only single-speed transmission. This makes electric cars automatic and clutchless as we don’t need to switch between gears.

To know in detail about torque delivery in EVs check this out The science involved behind High Torque in Electric Vehicles.

Thermal System:

The thermal system is used to maintain the thermal stability of the parts of electric vehicles like electronics, motor. This is why electric cars also come with radiators.

Regenerative Braking:

Almost all the electric vehicles come with regen braking. This is a system in which unused power produced during braking is harvested and stored in the battery to provide extra power and distance to the vehicle. When the car is moving on its known because of the momentum or when going downhill this system comes in action and converts the motor that drives the vehicle into a generator which generates AC power which is converted into DC and is stored in the battery. 

Battery Managemnet System:

A BMS is an electronic device that controls the charging and discharging of batteries based on the feedback provided by sensors. It works in a closed-loop system.

To know in detail about BMS check this out Battery Management System in Electric Vehicle.

Wrapping Up:

Electric vehicles are the future and can reduce pollution on a big scale by minimization of the use of fossil fuels. These vehicles are gaining the attention of everyone and many countries have decided to go fully electric in the coming years. 

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