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How does an Electric Car Work? What's the Difference with a Conventional Car

Electric Vehicle (EV) have been very hype for the last three years. Moreover, the richest person in the world today, Elon Musk, is aggressively talking about EVs on social media. But do you know how it works?

Well, in this post, we will summarize the basics for those of you who want to know how EV works, so you don't just follow the hype.

Key Components That Distinguish between Electric Cars and Gasoline Cars

When it comes to driving, there are five main components that separate electric cars from gasoline-powered cars: battery charger, battery, power control unit, drive motor and transmission.

1. Battery Charger

Contrary to popular belief, the object that sticks to the garage wall or on the pole in a shopping mall is not a charger, but an Electric Vehicle Service Equipment that provides power to the battery charger attached to your EV.

The charger then converts the AC power provided by the ESVE into DC power that the battery can store. That can be done either via Level I charging (which is slower) when the car is connected to a 120 volt EVSE or Level II charging (which is faster when) is plugged into 240 volts.

There is an exception, the Tesla Supercharger is a DC power connection. These chargers have a much higher current rating than those at home, so charging an electric car here can be much faster.

2. Battery

The battery is at the heart of every EV. That is why every time there is news about EVs it is always associated with the battery. The battery substantially determines the travel range of the car.

The battery is usually placed in the form of a large flat panel under the belly of the car, inside which is a smaller module containing many cells. But some cars avoid this belly-style battery placement and shape it more like a piece of trunk tucked into a car body cavity. However, the shape and location of the battery doesn't really matter to the average buyer. What matters is the range of the entire car.

Batteries store DC power in any electronics. Whether in a flashlight, phone or car. That's why the charger has to convert AC to DC to charge the battery and it's also related to the main work of the next component.

3. Power control unit

A power control unit isn't something automakers usually advertise, but it's a very important one. Its most crucial task is to convert the DC power stored in the battery back into AC for use by most EV motors. This activity is carried out with a component called an inverter.

The power control unit also connects the drivetrain to the accelerator pedal, start button, and drive mode controller. In addition, it also oversees regeneration, which is how the EV returns power to its own battery when cruising or braking.

A large part of Tesla's success is due to its ability to optimize the various power flows and conversions that occur in its EVs. It's a testament to the importance of the power control unit, but it's still one of the least praised items in EVs.

4. Motor

Motors are usually in charge of driving the wheels, but unlike gasoline-powered cars, an EV may have one or more motors. More motors can make the EV go faster. But the location of the motor in an EV is not like in a conventional car, this thing is usually difficult to find in an EV.

5. Transmission

There's not much to say here because electric motors don't really need a transmission. It operates more efficiently and has power over a much wider RPM range than gasoline engines. EVs don't need six, seven or even 10 gears as crutches to help them accommodate different vehicle speeds or loads.

6. Fewer Spare Parts

The EV has a simpler drivetrain. It uses 70 percent to 90 percent fewer parts than a gasoline-fueled car. Collecting fewer parts is usually still more expensive than gasoline-powered cars.(*)

Photo: Pixabay

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