We all know that car design is moving away from the traditional internal combustion engine, towards a greener, cleaner technology. Electric cars are fast becoming the vehicle of the now, not just of the future, and Tesla is leading the way.
But how do electric cars actually run? If you ever pop the hood on a Tesla and have a look at what’s underneath, you’ll probably be pretty surprised. Tesla cars do not have an engine, (in the traditional sense), but these things don’t run on magic either.
In this article we take a closer look at how Tesla’s work, the technology involved in electric cars, and how it differs from the old way of doing things. Get ready, get set, drive!
How Do Tesla Cars Run?
Tesla is at the forefront of electric vehicles and has been since the industry began in the early 2000s. But how can a car run without an internal combustion engine?
Like all other plug-in electric cars, Teslas run on an electric motor. An electric motor is essentially a battery-powered device that uses electricity to turn into mechanical energy.
This mechanical energy then turns into the movement of the vehicle, allowing it to run without burning petrol. For this reason, Tesla cars do not have an engine under their hood.
Where are the engines located in Tesla cars?
Each of these electric motors power one axle each. Usually, this means that there are two rear-mounted electric motors in a rear-wheel-drive Tesla.
In a front-wheel-drive car, the motors can be found in between the two front wheels. If you are lucky enough to drive an all-wheel-drive Tesla, your car will be kitted out with both of these motors.
What type of batteries do Teslas use?
Teslas’ electric motors are powered by rechargeable batteries. Tesla’s battery pack is widely reported to be equivalent to 7,104 lithium-ion battery cells – more than enough battery power to get your electric car moving pretty quickly.
You have to plug-in to charge the batteries. Keep in mind that an all-electric car battery may be a larger battery than what you would find in hybrid vehicles.
How long do Tesla batteries last?
Unlike the rechargeable batteries we use in our smartphones, Tesla cars have huge and highly powerful battery packs that are designed to manage temperatures much better than phone batteries.
For this reason they do not degenerate in the same way, and Tesla boasts that its premium Model S or Model X cars will retain an average of 90 percent of their capacity over 200,000 miles of range.
The current batteries used last between 300,000 to 500,000 miles, which is the equivalent of 1,500 cycles. It means the battery should only require replacing once or twice in the vehicle’s whole lifetime.
Are Teslas Hybrids?
People often assume that a Tesla is a hybrid engine. This is incorrect. A Tesla engine is 100% electric, which is why it does not have an engine.
How does a hybrid engine work?
A hybrid engine uses a combination of gasoline or diesel and electric power. Because they can burn fuel, they do have engines and not just lithium batteries. Most hybrid vehicles burn fuel for the majority of the driving time – the battery provides comparatively little power.
What are the benefits of a hybrid engine?
The battery in a hybrid engine will be used under specific conditions which allow the car to use up less fuel than a combustion-alone engine. You can even get hybrid cars that do not need to be plugged in to charge, unlike Tesla.
The batteries in a hybrid car can be charged through regenerative braking which allows the onboard computer to switch the power source for the engine from the battery to fuel automatically.
A Tesla car will also use this system of regenerative braking to help keep extending the length of time between battery charges, increasing the driving time from a single charge.
But remember that there is no engine in a Tesla to keep it going after the battery dies – there is no backup power source for you to rely on!
How do electric cars run?
Teslas use an electric motor that rotates the wheels. These tend to be AC motors (alternating current).
The car needs an inverter to convert the direct current to usable AC. Teslas also use a drivetrain with a single-speed transmission to get power to the wheels via the batteries.
What Are The Benefits of An Electric Motor?
There are many reasons why more and more people are choosing to opt for electric cars rather than the traditional combustion engine driven vehicles of old. Here’s why…
They are better for the environment
These green energy technologies are becoming increasingly important, given the environmental catastrophes that are caused by fossil fuels.
They are cheaper to run
These cars are solely reliant on batteries and do not have access to back up power sources like gasoline or diesel. This means that your annual fuel costs will be pretty much non-existent with a Tesla – it is difficult to fill up when you have no fuel tank!
They can accelerate more quickly
An electric car is powered by the energy from the battery. The battery provides energy that is converted into the electric motor so that it can drive the wheels.
More torque is created with an electric engine than with a traditional combustion engine as the power goes directly to the wheels which provide instant acceleration.
This means that an electric vehicle can accelerate much more quickly than a standard engine that is powered by gasoline.
That said, the top speed of a Tesla may not be as fast as a car with a powerful gasoline engine. But remember that the instant torque in a Tesla may be enough to make up for any speed shortfalls!
They break-down less often
This means that there are roughly 90% fewer parts under the hood compared to an internal combustion car. The simplicity of the design makes these cars more reliable than old fossil fuel driven vehicles.
Do Teslas Have Transmissions?
If a Tesla doesn’t have an engine, does it have a transmission? The answer is yes, but they are not the same as the transmission in an old-fashioned car.
What kind of transmission does Tesla use?
Tesla uses what is known as a 1-speed automatic transmission. This means they only have one single gear when it comes to shifting as they don’t need more than that.
Do Teslas need transmission fluid?
The Tesla gearbox is made up of a set of reduction gears. A normal transmission gearbox has multiple gear sets in order to allow different output speeds as the engine traverses through its revolutions.
The Tesla gearbox does use a special lubricant but not transmission fluid, as it is specific to automatic transmissions.
How does a single transmission work?
In a Tesla, there is a single transmission from the electric motor which immediately gives the wheels enough torque to turn. The battery power removes the ‘middle man’ in terms of engine power.
Tesla cars do not have engines. This is because they run off battery power and not the combustion of fuel. The genius of their design lies in its simplicity.
So, whilst you might initially be alarmed to find that there is no engine in an electric car, the technology driving them is actually much easier to understand than you might think. These cars really are the way forward!