How Do Electric Cars Work? – We Explain!How Do Electric Cars Work? – We Explain!

Electric cars are fast becoming all the rage, what with their improved range and higher purchasing power of an average car buyer. Of course, factors like reduction in battery costs and wider charging infrastructure have also helped. However, there’s still a lot that people need to know about these vehicles. In case you’re someone who wonders how electric cars work and how they’re different from hybrids, then read on.

Electric cars don’t consume even a single drop of fossil fuel. They need to be charged by plugging them into a charging point, just like you recharge your smartphone or a laptop. They come equipped with rechargeable batteries that power an electric motor that, in turn, powers the wheels. In fact, an electric car is generally quicker than a similarly priced ICE-equipped vehicle.

How does charging take place in electric cars?

To charge an electric car, all you need to do is to plug it into a charging station or a charger in your home or at a public place. With time, electric car chargers are becoming more common as several malls, offices, and food joints have installed them in their respective premises. How often do you require to charge your electric depends on the kind of use and the range of the vehicle. In all, there are 3 different types of charging speeds –

  • Slow – Rated at 3kW, this is used when an EV is plugged into the charger and left overnight. It takes up to 10 hours to charge a vehicle completely.
  • Fast – These are rated at either 7Kw or 22kW. These are installed at public places as they can fully charge a vehicle in less than 4 hours.
  • Rapid – Rated from 43 kW, these can charge an electric car to 80% in just about 60 minutes. These are the kind of chargers you would find at EV charging stations on highways.
A close-up image of an electric car being charged.
How does charging take place in electric cars?

Types of Electric Cars

There is a handful of types of electric cars. While the ones that run completely on electricity are called pure electric vehicles, the ones that can even run on fossil fuel are called hybrid electric vehicles. Given below are a few common types –

  • Plug-in electric – These are the kind of electric cars that run only on electricity and can be plugged into a charging socket when they are required to be charged. These EVs have zero tailpipe emissions.
  • Plug-in hybrid – These are the kind of electric cars that can run on electricity as well as fossil fuel. This way, you can switch to a petrol or diesel engine in case your car’s battery runs out of juice. While such cars don’t produce any tailpipe emissions when run on electricity, the same is not the case in case you use them with an Internal Combustion Engine.
  • Hybrid-electric – These are the kind of electric cars that mostly run on fossil fuels but have an electric battery that is recharged through regenerative braking. Unlike plug-in electric or hybrid cars, they can’t be charged through an electricity socket. Also, they have higher emissions as the reduced all-electric range will have you using internal combustion engines more often.
Mahindra XUV400 EV
Also Read: 8 BIG Benefits of Electric Cars

Key Components of Electric Cars

On average, an electric car has 90% fewer moving components than a car running on fossil fuel. Below are the most important components of electric cars –

  • Electric Motor – Basically, this is the engine of an EV as it is the source of power required to turn the wheels.
  • Inverter – This is, basically, a component that converts the Direct Current (DC) into Alternating Current (AC).
  • Drivetrain – All EVs come with a single-speed transmission as opposed to most conventional cars that have at least a 5-speed gearbox.
  • Batteries – These are the storage house of electricity that is required to power the motor to run the electric car.

EV Batteries Capacity

Just like a conventional car has a fuel tank that stores fossil fuel, electric cars have batteries that store the charge. Battery capacity is measured in kWh (kilowatt-hour). Kilowatts (kW) is the unit of power that shows the electric energy a device needs to work. Meanwhile, kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the unit of energy that shows the amount of energy that has been consumed. On average, an electric car consumes around 2,000 kWh of energy in a year.

Pros and Cons of Electric Cars

Much higher efficiencyLimited by range
Zero emissionsCharging takes longer than fuelling up
It could be easier to maintain due to lesser running partsExpensive

Like everything, electric cars have their pros and cons, though you would want to overlook the cons the moment you realise they have zero tailpipe emissions. Other than this huge advantage, electric cars even have much lesser power loss, and they are also easier to maintain owing to the lesser running components an electric powertrain carries. On the other hand, electric cars are limited by range. Unfortunately, India still has a long way to go when it comes to EV-charging infrastructure. Also, charging an electric car takes longer than tanking up a conventional car. Finally, they are even costlier to buy. However, it’s expected that with time, the challenges that EV owners face right now will cease to exist.

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By Mohnish Panchal

Loves Cars | Content Contributor | Part-time Human Full-time Car Enthusiast

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