What is Electric Car and How Does it Work?

What is an Electric Car (EV)?

Electric vehicles (EVs) have a battery instead of a gasoline tank, and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are a combination of gasoline and electric vehicles, so they have a battery, an electric motor, a gasoline tank, and an internal combustion engine.

An electric car or battery-electric car is an automobile that is propelled by one or more electric motors, using energy stored in batteries. Compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, electric cars are quieter, have no exhaust emissions, and lower emissions overall.

The total cost of ownership of recent electric vehicles is cheaper than that of equivalent ICE cars, due to lower fueling and maintenance costs. Charging an electric car can be done at a variety of charging stations; these charging stations can be installed in both houses and public areas.

Many countries have established government incentives for plug-in electric vehicles, tax credits, subsidies, and other non-monetary incentives while several countries have legislated to phase-out sales of fossil fuel cars, to reduce air pollution and limit climate change.

In terms of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, electric cars and trucks are often cleaner than even the most efficient conventional vehicles. Exactly how clean depends on the type of vehicle and the source of the electricity.

When battery-electric EVs are powered by the cleanest electricity grids, greenhouse gas emissions from EVs are comparable to a car getting over 100 miles per gallon. When charged exclusively with renewable electricity like solar or wind, charging and operating an EV can be nearly emission-free.

What is Electric Car and How Does it Work

Do electric cars use gas?

Battery electric vehicles, or BEVs, use electricity stored in a battery pack to power an electric motor and turn the wheels. Since they don’t run on gasoline or diesel and are powered entirely by electricity, battery-electric cars and trucks are considered “all-electric” vehicles.

Do electric cars use oil?

An electric car doesn’t require motor oil, as it uses an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. Traditional gas vehicles need oil to lubricate several moving pieces in their combustion engines. The valves, pistons, and other moving parts of an engine should glide smoothly past one another at high speeds, which is why oil is added to the car’s engine to lubricate these interactions and reduce friction.

Adding oil to an engine enables it to operate without seizing and overheating. After a while, tiny metal flakes that accumulate in the oil due to metal-on-metal contact have to be removed, so you drain the oil and add new or fresh oil to keep the car’s engine running well.

In an electric car, however, none of this takes place. Electric cars move using an electric motor and a battery. There are no valves, pistons, engines, or other moving pieces that require lubrication. Thus, regular oil changes aren’t necessary for electric vehicles.

How Do Electric Cars Work?

Electric vehicles (EVs), also referred to as battery electric vehicles, have an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. The vehicle uses a large traction battery pack to power the electric motor and must be plugged into a wall outlet or charging equipment, also called electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

Electric car (EV) batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. Although electricity production may contribute to air pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency categorizes electric vehicles as zero-emission vehicles because they produce no direct exhaust or tailpipe emissions.

Both heavy-duty and light-duty EVs are commercially available. EVs are typically more expensive than similar conventional and hybrid vehicles, although some costs can be recovered through fuel savings, a federal tax credit, or state incentives.

Key Components of an Electric Car

  • Battery (electric auxiliary): In an electric drive vehicle, the auxiliary battery provides electricity to power vehicle accessories.
  • Charge port: The charge port allows the vehicle to connect to an external power supply in order to charge the traction battery pack.
  • DC/DC converter: This device converts higher-voltage DC power from the traction battery pack to the lower-voltage DC power needed to run vehicle accessories and recharge the auxiliary battery.
  • Electric traction motor: Using power from the traction battery pack, this motor drives the vehicle’s wheels. Some vehicles use motor generators that perform both the drive and regeneration functions.
  • Onboard charger: Takes the incoming AC electricity supplied via the charge port and converts it to DC power for charging the traction battery. It also communicates with the charging equipment and monitors battery characteristics such as voltage, current, temperature, and state of charge while charging the pack.
  • Power electronics controller: This unit manages the flow of electrical energy delivered by the traction battery, controlling the speed of the electric traction motor and the torque it produces.
  • Thermal system (cooling): This system maintains a proper operating temperature range of the engine, electric motor, power electronics, and other components.
  • Traction battery pack: Stores electricity for use by the electric traction motor.
  • Transmission (electric): The transmission transfers mechanical power from the electric traction motor to drive the wheels.

Types of electric cars

1. Battery electric vehicles

Battery Electric Vehicles also called BEVs and more frequently called EVs, are fully electric vehicles with rechargeable batteries and no gasoline engine. All energy to run the vehicle comes from the battery pack which is recharged from the grid.

BEVs are zero-emissions vehicles, as they do not generate any harmful tailpipe emissions or air pollution hazards caused by traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

2. Hybrid electric vehicles

Hybrid Electric Vehicles, or HEVs, have both a gas-powered engine and an electric motor to drive the car. All energy for the battery is gained through regenerative braking, which recoups otherwise lost energy in braking to assist the gasoline engine during acceleration.

In a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle, this braking energy is normally lost as heat in the brake pads and rotors. Regular hybrids cannot plug into the grid to recharge and cannot charge with EVgo.

3. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, or PHEVs, have both an engine and electric motor to drive the car. Like regular hybrids, they can recharge their battery through regenerative braking. They differ from regular hybrids by having a much larger battery and being able to plug into the grid to recharge.

While regular hybrids can (at low speed) travel 1-2 miles before the gasoline engine turns on, PHEVs can go anywhere from 10-40 miles before their gas engines provide assistance. Once the all-electric range is depleted, PHEVs act as regular hybrids, and can travel several hundred miles on a tank of gasoline.

All PHEVs can charge at an EVgo L2 charger, but most PHEVs are not capable of supporting fast charging.

What Fluids Do Electric Cars Require?

While an electric vehicle requires less maintenance, that doesn’t mean you can neglect it. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a zero-maintenance vehicle. Although you won’t ever need an EV oil change, you will still need to perform a routine check on the following fluids in EVs:

1. Coolant

Heat is a huge issue for electric vehicles, just like it is for fuel-powered vehicles. To manage the heat coming out of your electric car’s lithium-ion battery, the car needs coolant. This is one area where the process is exactly the same for an electric vehicle as it is for a combustion-engine vehicle.

The level of coolant for your car’s battery, power inverter, and cabin heater should all be checked. Although the cabin heater is not a big deal, the other two components are extremely critical.

If you have ever heard a story about an electric car catching on fire, it was probably because of an overheated battery. Thus, keep the coolant levels high to make sure the battery won’t explode.

2. Brake Fluid

While an electric vehicle uses brake pads, they rarely need to be replaced, due to the regenerative braking system on electronic vehicles. The system reduces the wear on the car’s brakes by turning the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle into electric energy to the battery. Essentially, the system is the primary means of slowing the vehicle down, minimizing the amount of wear on brake pads.

The regenerative braking system on an electric car is an important part of the car’s power generation equipment. Typical service for an electronic vehicle involves ensuring that the braking system is working properly, which is extremely important because along with producing power, this is also your primary means of slowing down the vehicle. Because there are major safety implications, you should have your brakes serviced regularly.

3. Transmission Fluid

The multi-speed or direct-drive transmission of an electronic vehicle may require fluid changes during the course of car ownership. It’s important to consult your owner’s manual to find out the recommended interval for completing this service for your specific electric car.

How Do You Charge an Electric Car?

Most EV drivers plug into a ChargePoint whenever they park to stay topped up. Sometimes drivers need to charge in route, using higher-powered chargers. Depending on the location, you can start charging simply by plugging in, or by using an app, contactless card, or RFID card.

Why Can’t Electric Cars Charge Themselves?

Regenerative braking is a very clever process whereby pressing on the brake of an electric vehicle enables the car battery to store kinetic energy from the wheels. The kinetic energy is conducted from the wheels of the car through the drivetrain and a certain percentage of it is stored in the car’s battery.

Now, of course, this energy storage happens on a relatively small level and isn’t nearly enough to charge an electric car for a significant amount of time, but innovators have already suggested the possibility of building on this regenerative braking function to make EV self-charging possible.

For instance, the concept of using regenerative braking on a larger scale to enable EV self-charging is imperfect due to the fact that it simply isn’t energy-efficient enough to provide a reliable charging system.

As we mentioned earlier, only a percentage of the kinetic energy from the car’s wheels ends up being stored in the battery. The amount of energy transfer, even when wheel generators and alternators are involved, isn’t enough to completely charge an electric car’s battery with any kind of efficiency.

How Far Can an Electric Car Go on One Charge?

Current electric vehicles travel about 250 miles on a charge, though there are some, such as Tesla’s, that can do about 350 miles on a charge. Many automakers have announced plans to bring to market electric vehicles that promise longer range and even faster charging.

The Future is Now & More Long-Range EVs Coming Soon

Here are a few comparisons of popular electric vehicles that offer more than 200 miles per charge:

  • Audi E-Tron – 204 miles
  • Nissan Leaf Plus – 226 miles
  • Jaguar I-Pace – 234 miles
  • Chevrolet Bolt – 238 miles
  • Kia Niro EV – 239 miles
  • Hyundai Kona EV – 258 miles
  • Tesla Model X – 305 miles
  • Tesla Model 3 Long Range – 322 miles
  • Tesla Model S – 391 miles

The vehicles listed above are only the beginning. How far can you expect to go in an EV in the immediate future? Here are some of the top electric vehicles coming in the next year or two. Most of these are estimates:

  • Ford Mach E – Up to 300 miles per charge
  • Volvo Polestar 2 – 300 miles per charge
  • Volkswagen ID.4 – 220 miles per charge
  • Mercedes EQC – 220 miles per charge
  • BMW iX3 – 200 miles per charge
  • Volvo XC40 Electric – 200 miles per charge

General Motors and Volkswagen, among others, plan dozens of affordable electric vehicles in the next few years.

How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

The time it takes to charge an electric car can be as little as 30 minutes or more than 12 hours. This depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty to full with a 7kW charging point.

How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

The fuel efficiency of an EV may be measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) per 100 miles. To calculate the cost per mile of an EV, the cost of electricity (in dollars per kWh) and the efficiency of the vehicle (how much electricity is used to travel 100 miles) must be known. If electricity costs $0.13 per kWh and the vehicle consumes 33 kWh to travel 100 miles, the cost per mile is about $0.04.

If electricity costs $0.13 per kilowatt-hour, charging an EV with a 200-mile range (assuming a fully depleted 66 kWh battery) will cost about $9 to reach a full charge. To compare the fueling costs of individual models of conventional and plug-in vehicles.

How Much Does an Electric Car Cost?

The average cost of a new car in June 2019 in the U.S. was $36,600. This was a 2% increase from the year before. However, according to data from Cox Automotive, the average cost of an electric vehicle decreased from $64,300 to $55,600: a 13.4% decrease from the year before.

Below is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for several of the leading electric vehicles in the market and their different models:

1. Tesla Model S

The MSRP for the Tesla Model S is:

  • Long Range: $81,190
  • Performance: $101,190

Tesla Model S, most closely comparable to the Mercedes Benz CLS Class, is the exception to the trend in electric vehicles costing more than their gas-powered equivalent competitors.

2. Tesla Model 3

The MSRP for the Tesla Model 3 is:

  • Standard Range Plus Battery: $41,190
  • Long Range Battery: $50,190
  • Performance: $58,190

While battery degradation may be a concern for Tesla owners during the first 50k miles, it becomes less of an issue later on. At 160k miles most Tesla models only lose 10% of battery life.

3. Tesla Model X

The MSRP for the Tesla Model X is:

  • Long Range: $86,190
  • Performance: $106,190

4. BMW i3

The MSRP for the BMW i3 is:

  • 120 Ah: $45,445
  • s 120 Ah: $48,645
  • 120 Ah with Range Extender: $49,295
  • s 120 Ah with Range Extender: $52,495

5. Nissan Leaf

The MSRP for the Nissan Leaf is:

  • S: $32,525
  • SV: $35,115
  • S Plus: $39,125
  • SV Plus: $40,675
  • SL Plus: $44,825

6. Chevrolet Bolt EV

The MSRP for the Chevrolet Bolt EV is:

  • LT: $37,495
  • Premier: $41,895

7. Hyundai Kona

The MSRP for the Hyundai Kona is:

  • SEL: $38,310
  • Limited: $42,920
  • Ultimate: $46,520

8. Volkswagen e-Golf

The MSRP for the Volkswagen e-Golf is:

  • SE: $33,000 (est.)
  • SEL Premium: $40,000 (est.)

9. Audi e-Tron

The MSRP for the Audi e-Tron is:

  • Premium Plus: $75,795
  • Prestige: $80,095
  • Sportback: $81,000 (est.)

10. Jaguar I-Pace

The MSRP for the Jaguar I-Pace is:

  • S: $70,875
  • SE: $77,275
  • HSE: $81,925