How It Works: Electric Car

An electric vehicle produces less than 50 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that a fossil fuel-powered car does. So if you want to save the planet, and save money on gas, buy an electric car.

That, and the fact that electric cars such as the Tesla Model X are considered hip, a status symbol, and driven by many famous and influential individuals are all strong contributors to the “cool” factor of these cars.

But how do electric cars work?

As you may know, electric cars run off batteries. But there is more to how an electric vehicle works than simply attaching a battery.

EVs are basically plug-in automobiles that are powered by rechargeable batteries and propelled by an electric motor. The batteries can be recharged by plugging them into a charging station.

Most people who have an EV will have installed a charging station at home. In technologically advanced countries like Israel, there are charging stations on almost every street in cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa.

In up-market London neighborhoods such as Kensington and Chelsea, the local City Council has set up charging stations at street-lamps. Because of the growing popularity of electric cars we expect more charging stations to come up in public spaces across Arizona and the rest of the country.

Your electric car can run for about 100 to 200 miles on a single battery recharge. Engineers have been working hard to get EVs to last 300 to 400 miles on a single recharge. That should happen within the next few years.

How the Electric Car Works

EVs get power from a pack of rechargeable batteries installed inside the car. These batteries not only power the car, but are also required for the functioning of the car lights and wipers.

All electric vehicles have 3 main components: Electric motor, Controller and Battery.

From the outside, electric cars look the same as any normal fossil fuel-powered car – except for the fact that they don’t have an exhaust system that lets out carbon monoxide and other harmful gases into the environment. What’s not to like?

From the inside, they are very different. There’s no gas tank. Instead, you will find a lot of batteries. EVs have the same sort of batteries that you have in a normal car, except that they have many more of them. If you’re going to drive an electric vehicle, you’ll need all the battery power you can get.

The batteries have a regulator or controller which controls the amount of energy produced by them, so that there is no inconsistency of any sort. What you don’t want is a spike in battery power one day and for the batteries to go low the next.

The controller or regulator takes power from the battery, converts the 300 V DC into a maximum of 240 V AC, and feeds it to the electric motor. The electric motor converts the electrical energy into mechanical energy, which drives the vehicle forward and powers the air conditioning, brakes and transmission systems.

The batteries used in the most expensive EVs such as the Tesla Model X are usually Lithium Ion batteries – they are pricier than other options such as Lead Acid batteries and Nickel Metal Hydride batteries, but deliver better performance.

As the electric car moves forward, the movement generated by the electric motor is used to charge the batteries every time you apply the brakes. This is called as regenerative braking, and provides up to 15 percent of the energy required for the acceleration. What this does is to take the vehicle further than what’s possible with a single battery recharge.