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How Do Electric Cars Work

Global interest in electric powered vehicles has gradually been increasing as the prospect of a shortage in crude oil production has become more apparent. The appeal of automobiles that use batteries to supply the power they need instead of gasoline is usually attributed to their efficiency and lack of environmental emissions. While there are many factors that make electric cars an attractive alternative to traditional combustion engines, a general understanding of how electric vehicles work will give you a better idea of where the drawbacks exist.

How Do Electric Cars Work


Aside from the noticeably unique exterior of many electric automobiles, most people would be unable to distinguish between a traditional gasoline powered vehicle and an electric powered vehicle. In fact, one could convert a gasoline powered automobile into an electric powered automobile by simply replacing the combustion engine with a network of batteries. There would be no need to alter the external appearance of the vehicle at all and it would be impossible for people to distinguish between the two without getting behind the wheel or looking under the hood.

When answering the question how do electric cars work, one must have a detailed perspective of how a traditional combustion engine provides energy for a vehicle. The automobiles that most of us are used to driving have a fuel tank, a fuel-injection system, fuel lines, and an exhaust system. The gasoline that is pumped into this type of vehicle has been refined from crude oil to produce a product that is usable in most automobiles. The fuel is stored in the fuel tank until it is needed for vehicle operation.

How Do Electric Cars WorkWhen the driver turns the ignition switch, an electrical current is sent from the battery to the starter. This electrical current is used to ignite a small amount of fuel contained within the vehicle’s pistons. The energy released from the combustion of this fuel is what drives the mechanical processes of the automobile. In order to keep the pistons turning, more fuel is injected into the combustion chambers. The byproducts of gasoline combustion are emitted into the environment via the exhaust system.

Now that we understand how a gasoline-powered engine works, we can better answer the question how do electric cars work. The first thing you might notice while inspecting an electric vehicle is that it has no fuel tank or exhaust system. This is because the automobile does not depend on gasoline for its energy. What you will notice instead is a series of batteries that may or may not resemble the type of batteries you are used to seeing in gasoline-powered vehicles.

Electric automobiles utilize a series of motors that are powered by the electricity that is contained within rechargeable batteries. Electricity is directed from the batteries to the motors by a controller that is activated by depressing the accelerator pedal. As the motors receive electricity, they move the vehicle in the desired direction. Most electric vehicles will remain powered for a minimum of 50 miles on a single charge and some can last as long as 250 miles.


The precise details for how each electric vehicle works vary slightly depending on the type of battery being used. The most important consideration when asking yourself how do electric cars work is to think carefully about your personal needs for the electric vehicle. If you are going to be using it primarily in an urban or suburban setting then you might not need one that lasts for 250 miles. Most people charge their electric cars overnight and rarely have need for one that lasts for more than 30 or 40 miles on a single charge.

The major drawbacks of the electric cars in use today involve the high cost associated with purchasing the vehicle and replacing the batteries. A study conducted by Harvard University found that the fuel savings of most electric vehicles do not offset the higher purchase prices. In fact, researchers determined that the lifetime cost of an electric vehicle would exceed that of a gasoline-powered vehicle by as much as $5,000. It was decided that gasoline costs would need to rise above $4.50 per gallon in conjunction with improved range and reduced cost for electric vehicles in order for consumers to purchase enough electric vehicles to result in a significant reduction in emissions. This should provide you with a more informed answer to the question how do electric cars work and allow you to decide for yourself whether an electric vehicle is worth the investment.

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