With new tax benefits for fully electric cars and the chance never to pay for gas again, many consumers are jumping on the opportunity to own an electric car for the first time. But does the average American know exactly how an electric car functions? Without a standard car’s need for gas and oil, the process may present some confusion. Read on to learn more about how it works.
Components of a Car
While this is a simple concept for many, it’s important to pick apart the functions of a traditional car to show precisely where an electric car differs. The four major components comprising a car include:
An energy source. In a traditional car, this is either gas or diesel.
A container for fuel. For most cars, this is the gas tank.
An engine. In most cars, the cylinders and pistons serve to convert the fuel into power.
A transmission system. A car’s transmission takes the engine’s mechanical power to move the car forward. This includes the wheels, gearbox, and crankshaft.
How an Electric Car Compares
While both an electric and a traditional car serve the same function, the components of the two differ drastically due to their source of fuel. Most obviously, an electric car contains no gas tank. Instead of a gas tank, an electric car uses multiple batteries to hold electric power. The batteries must be plugged in to charge overnight, which works on a traditional power socket. As the car drives forward throughout the day, the battery will gradually lose power.
In the place of an engine, an electric car has at least one electric motor, which it uses to run the transmission. The motor consists of a tight-wrapped wire coil, which spins around inside a casing of powerful magnets. When the coil receives electricity from the battery, it creates a magnetic field, rotating rapidly inside the magnetic casing. The quickly spinning coil attaches to an axle, which drives the car’s wheels. Certain high-power electric cars have multiple motors, called hub motors – one for each wheel.
Not all electric cars are built equally. Newly designed and created vehicles like the Chevy Spark EV, the Fiat 500E, and the BMW i3, deliver zero to 60 acceleration in a matter of just a few seconds. Similarly, some electric cars offer fuel cells, which are similar to batteries, except that they don’t run down. Supplied by a tank of hydrogen gas, fuel cells convert the gas into electricity to allow the car to run. Other electric cars have solar panels to aid in charging their batteries as the car moves forward.
While electric cars function differently, they all offer the same benefits, which include not only tax credits and major savings on fuel, but also a much greener option. The savings come at a direct benefit to the environment – a win-win solution for all parties involved.