Electric powered cars are becoming popular in the present time because of the ever-increasing fuel problems. In fact, there are about 250,000 electric hybrid vehicles being sold every year since 2007. With this, electric charging stations are now found throughout the United States.
Electric cars are known to be very efficient and they consume less energy making them environmentally friendly automobiles. But have you ever wondered what the components of an electric powered car’s engine are, and how they work?
Primary Components of an Electric Car
An electric powered car has three primary components. These are the electric engine, motor controller, and battery.
The battery of an electric car can be charged through the use of ordinary grid electricity at a specialized power station. But aside from the conventional lithium-ion battery technologies, there are also other major battery technologies which can be used for electric cars.
- Lithium-Ion Batteries: This battery technology gives extra performance and range. However, it also carries the highest price tag. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter than Lead acid and Nickel metal. These are also the batteries used in digital cameras and smartphones.
- Lead Acid Batteries: This battery technology is the most popular. It is also the cheapest among the battery technologies. What’s good about it is it’s 97% recyclable.
- Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries: This battery technology provides higher output and better performance but it costs much more than lead-acid batteries.
The motor controller of an electric car administers its complete operation and the distribution of its power at any given moment. It acts as a floodgate between the motor and batteries. It helps monitor and regulates all key performance indications such as the vehicle’s operator, motor, battery, and accelerator pedal. It has a microprocessor which can limit or redirect current. It is used to either improve the mechanical performance of the car or suit the operator’s driving style. There are also more refined controllers which are capable of greater accuracy and thus, higher efficiency.
Unlike a gasoline engine with lots of moving parts, an electric engine or motor only has one moving part. This makes it a very reliable source of motive power. Choosing an electric engine depends on your car’s system voltage. They can be structured to use either AC or DC current. AC motors are less expensive and lighter compared to DC engines. They are also more common and they tend to suffer from less mechanical wear and tear. However, AC technology requires a more refined or sophisticated motor controller.
Other Components of an Electric Car
Aside from the three primary components of an electric car, it is also made up of other components which are important as well. These are the regenerative braking and the drive system.
As the electric car moves, the electric motor generates a forward momentum and it can be used to charge the batteries when you apply the brakes, which is commonly referred to as regenerative braking. It can recover up to about fifteen percent of used energy for acceleration. Though this component is indeed effective, it cannot generate enough to fully recharge an electric car.
The function of the drive system is to transfer mechanical energy to the traction wheels, generating motion. An electric car does not require a conventional transmission. However, it has several internal configurations depending on the components in use. For example, there are some designs which use multiple smaller motors that power each wheel individually. Large electric motors, on the other hand, may be coupled to the rear wheels using a differential housing.
The components of an electric powered car are much simpler compared to the components of a gasoline-powered car engine. However, electric cars cannot go as fast as gasoline-powered cars can. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, can reduce energy consumption in different ways like automatically turning the engine off when the car is idle.
Different Types of Electric Cars and How They Work
Electric vehicles come in three types and they are classed by the degree that electricity is used as their energy source.
Battery Electric Vehicles or BEV
This type is fully electric with rechargeable batteries and does not have a gasoline engine. It stores electricity onboard with high-capacity battery packs. Battery power is used to run the electric motor of the vehicle and as well as all onboard electronics. Battery electric vehicles do not emit harmful emissions and hazards, unlike traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. They are charged with electricity from an external source.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles or PHEV
This type of electric vehicle is also known as Extended-Range Electric Vehicles and it is powered by both petrol and electricity. Its battery can be recharged through both regenerative braking and “plugging in” to an external source of electrical power. This type of electric car can go anywhere from 10 to 40 miles before its gas engine provides assistance, unlike standard hybrids which can only go about 1 to 2 miles before the gasoline engine turns on.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles or HEV
This type of electric car is also powered by both petrol and electricity. Its electric energy is generated by its own braking system to recharge the battery. That process is called “regenerative braking”. In that process, the electric motor helps to slow the vehicle and uses some of the energy normally converted to heat by the brakes. It starts off using the electric motor and then the gasoline cuts in as load or speed arises. The two motors of a hybrid electric vehicle are controlled by an internal computer, ensuring the best economy for the driving conditions.
Know More About Electric Cars
Where to Buy
If you want to know more about electric cars, here are some of the products we can recommend that may help you get more information and ideas.
This is an e-book by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman. It is a very useful book if you want to learn how to build, convert, or purchase a state-of-the-art electric vehicle. This book is filled with photos and it fully describes each component of electric vehicles. It also covers environmental impact and energy savings, and as well as tips on licensing and insuring your electric vehicle.
This book is written by Mark Warner. It will give you some ideas on how to convert cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles into electric vehicles. It also tackles topics about basic electric vehicle operation, components, conversion kits, and ownership advantages.
This book by Brad Durant will help you better understand and discover important information about electric cars. It also includes a beginner’s introductory guide on electric cars. It is an e-book that you can read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, tablet, or Kindle device.
This book by Eschbach Christina will introduce you to the uses of electric cars, the hardware, and software that make electric cars possible, and the future of electric car technology. It contains easy-to-read text and vivid images to give you a clear look at the subject.
This one is a documentary about the booming industry of electric vehicles. It features interview with manufacturers and drivers of electric cars. You can also see here the Petersen and Ford Museums, Jay Leno’s Garage, and the Detroit Auto Show. It is a great documentary for electric car enthusiasts and for anyone who drives.
The Top Electric and Hybrid Cars in the Market
Here are some of the best electric and hybrid cars you can find in the market today.
- Toyota Prius: This is probably the number one full hybrid electric car. It is a well-rounded hybrid car that is now available with all-wheel drive. It has excellent fuel economy, plenty of cargo space for the class, and has lots of standard safety features. It is a very good hybrid car.
- Toyota Camry Hybrid: The Toyota Camry Hybrid has a lively powertrain, solid predicted reliability, a large trunk, and many standard features including the addition of Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. It has a comfortable and quiet cabin and will offer you superb fuel economy.
- Tesla Model S Hatchback: This electric car may not be as futuristically styled as some but it is still extremely attractive. However, it is really expensive. But it has a very impressive performance. It has a ‘Ludicrous Mode’ that allows a 0-62mph run in 2.5 seconds. It also features an ‘Autopilot’ technology, allowing the car to drive itself under certain conditions.
- Tesla Model X: This is a mid-size car and is an all-electric luxury crossover utility vehicle. Instead of traditional automotive doors, it uses gull-wing doors. It was developed from the full-sized sedan platform of Tesla Model S. It has an EPA Size Class of an SUV. It ranked seventh among the world’s best-selling plug-in cars in 2016.
- BMW i3: Aside from having a unique design, this plug-in hybrid car also has a spacious interior and agile handling which is best for those who want to go green without sacrificing any qualities of a conventional luxury car. This luxury car can go for a full 126 miles without a drop of gas. And when it reaches its battery’s limits, its gasoline engine will return 31 mpg, making it one of the highest fuel-economy rates in the segment.
- Nissan Leaf: This car is now on its second generation. It has a more toned-down design and has a longer range and better performance compared to its predecessor. It has an innovative ‘e-Pedal’ which helps boost range and transforms driving experience. In fact, it almost eliminates the need to use the brakes in most normal driving.
- Chevrolet Bolt EV: This is a front-motor, five-door all-electric hatchback. It is Chevy’s first foray into the all-electric car market. It is developed and manufactured in partnership with LG Corporatuon. It has an EPA all-electric range of 238 miles and EPA fuel economy rating of 119 mpg for combined city/highway driving.
- Ford Focus Electric: This is a hatchback electric car and the second full production, all-electric vehicle produced by Ford. It uses the same body as the gasoline powered third generation Ford Focus. It is an affordable electric vehicle with all the look and feel of a standard vehicle. The only difference is it can go over 100 miles per charges in its battery.
- Jaguar I-Pace SUV: This is one of the best fully electric car you can find in the market. It is the first electric Jaguar and it is fast in a straight line. It can complete 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds. This car has a sense of poise and control in corners that is virtually extraordinary in an electric car. This is one great luxury electric SUV.
- Volkswagen e-Golf Hatchback: Volkswagen is one of the brands that can assure you that you’re in safe hands during your transition to electric motoring. The range of this car is determined by the charge in its batteries and not by how much fuel is in the tank. Its official range is 186 miles, therefore, we can assume that 130 miles can be possible in real-world driving.
- Kia Niro: This is one of the eco-friendly crossovers on the market today. It features roomy and comfortable seats and has an excellent cargo capacity for a subcompact SUV. Kia Niro is also one of the most fuel-efficient hybrid SUV you can find, boasting fuel economy estimates of 50 mpg combined.
- Kia Soul EV: This is an all-electric subcompact crossover SUV and the best-selling electric car of Kia. Just like the Focus Electric, this car has the looks and feel of its non-electric twin, the Soul, but it can go over 100 miles with its electric battery.
- Hyundai Kona Electric: This electric car has a very nice interior. It uses an SAE combo charger which allows DC voltage to go directly into its large battery. It also uses regenerative braking.
- Hyundai Ioniq: This car may not be the top electric car, but a hybrid powertrain is also part of the Ioniq lineup which makes it great. It returns 58 mpg in combined driving which is the highest among any hybrid car. Aside from efficiency, this car also has a handsome cabin built with eco-friendly materials, lots of cargo space, and easy-to-use tech features.
Based on research, users of electric powered cars can save $1,000 or more annually compared to the cost of using a gasoline-fueled vehicle. This can also be the reason why there is a rapid growth in the production of electric vehicles. Aside from helping people protect the environment from pollution, it also helps in saving money.