Why Don’t Electric Vehicles Have Gears?

Last Updated on January 15, 2023 by

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Electric cars don’t have gears as electric motors can deliver instant power throughout the torque range independent of motor speed. A gas engine develops maximum power withing a band of engine revolutions and gears help to maintain engine revolutions for maximum torque.

Globally, gas prices are shooting through the roof, with a gallon of gas in the country breaching a historic ceiling price of $5 a gallon. You are not alone if you wonder why you shouldn’t switch to its cheaper alternative—an electric vehicle. 

Today, electric vehicles are the most environment-friendly and cost-efficient form of transportation. It helps save money as well as cut down emissions. 

As per prediction, the global demand for oil will peak by 2036. Keeping that in mind, as a country, a shift towards electric vehicles will help reduce our dependence on oil. 

The world is slowly transitioning from a carbon-based economy to a renewable one. The electric vehicle industry is growing rapidly, and it will grow even more in the coming years.

We have now come a long way with EVs. Today, automobile manufacturers are vying to break frontiers in EVs with solar roofs, wireless charging, bidirectional charging and more.

The future of electric vehicles looks promising, with a forecasted growth rate of 6% per year. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts that:

“By 2040, EVs will make up 54% of all new car sales worldwide”

With EVs making major inroads into the mobility sector, read on to know more about its features and specifications regarding its gears.

Do Electric Vehicles Have Gears?

No. Electric vehicles do not need gears. They can make do with a single speed transmission.

This is possible due to the higher rpm range of the electric motors. Compared to ICE cars, which typically rev to 6000–7000 rpm, electric motors can reach 20,000 rpm.

The ICE automobiles have a restricted power band, meaning that their maximum torque and power are produced within this particular range of engine speed. This necessitates the use of numerous gears to reach greater speeds.

In contrast, an electric car’s power band is much wider than that of an ICE vehicle, and the motors produce power effectively over the whole speed range. Electric vehicles deliver peak torque even at 0 revolutions per minute.

As a result, electric automobiles only need a single gearbox to reach their top speed.

Since EVs produce a consistent torque at a wide range of RPMs instantaneously, multispeed transmission is inefficient as it adds on unnecessary weight and cost of production.

Do Hybrid Cars Have Gears?

Gasoline driven cars have engines powered by gasoline which turns the transmission and then the wheels. Electric vehicles are powered by an electric motor, which in turn moves the transmission and the wheels.

The Hybrid cars are those that combines both these set-ups by leveraging both gas and electric power. It has an ICE(Internal combustion engine) and an electric motor.

Since a conventional electric motor with a single gear is easier and less expensive to construct, most hybrid cars use this set-up.

Furthermore, as previously said, single-geared systems lose relatively little performance or economy, reducing the requirement for a two- or three-speed gearbox.

These vehicles’ internal combustion engines often transfer their power through a traditional automatic or CVT gearbox.

Hybrid cars are thus aimed at reducing the disadvantages of electric cars while reducing the emissions of a gasoline powered vehicle.

Most of the hybrid cars have automatic transmission with a single gear.

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Do Electric Cars Have Reverse Gear?

No. Electric cars do not have reverse gears.

Electric vehicles have a single speed transmission and no gears. When a car needs to be reversed, the Reverse option which can be a button/ stick Is pressed.

This makes the electric motor rotate in the opposite direction which in turn reverses the car.

How Electric Car Transmission Works?

The transmission in electric cars is fairly simple. Electric cars are not powered by gasoline, diesel or even an engine.

They are fitted with an electric motor powered by rechargeable batteries. These batteries store energy in the form of DC(Direct current) whereas the electric motor runs on AC (Alternating current).

When the driver presses the accelerator, an inverter converts the DC current to AC.

This implies that when more power is required, the flow of current increases. So more power flows and the inverter converts it to AC.

The stator is the stationary part of the motor while the rotor is the part which rotates.

Acting as an electromagnet, the stator keeps it poles changing. This generates rotating magnetic field which alternatively attracts and repels the rotor. This induces a rotatory motion.

The rotation of the rotor turns the gears which in turn moves the wheel.

Do Electric Trucks Have Transmissions?

Yes. Electric trucks do have transmissions but unlike the conventional gas powered trucks that use 18 speed transmission, the EV variants seem to operate on one or two-speed transmission system.

How is this possible?

The conventional gas and diesel trucks have a narrow torque range and need higher gears for increasing speed and higher RPMs.

The electric trucks on the other hand operate on a wider torque range allowing an easier shift from cruising and load bearing. The electric motor is capable of achieving thousands of RPMs instantaneously allowing increased acceleration.

The electric trucks can do away with a couple of gears. For example, in a two-speed transmission EV truck, first gear can be used during load handling while the second can be used for cruising on the road.

Electric trucks have transmissions but due to their small and efficient motor, they can operate with minimal gears.

They can achieve this with maximum efficiency and seamless acceleration. Also, since electric motors generate negligible sound, the electric transmission system is comparatively quiet.

2-speed Transmission for Electric Vehicle

Most electric vehicles have a single speed transmission since it is sufficient for a decent performance.

But EV cars like Audi E-Tron and Porsche Taycan offer 2 speed transmission models.

What makes them different? What is the purpose behind it?

The reason is not hard to understand. You read why EVs use single speed transmission. When cars like E-Tron and Taycan use dual speed gearbox, it is mainly from a performance perspective.

The first gear is for lower accelerations whereas the second gear comes to play at higher speeds. The shift helps in smooth transition into higher speeds and peak performance.

But this set-up is bulkier and would cost more. For e.g. the Taycan is built with two motors that can rev from standstill to almost 62.14 miles/hr in 2.8s.

Some argue that the Taycan could have avoided the dual speed transmission and increased it performance.

Overall, only cars which believe that a higher performance is necessary despite the cost and build, go for dual speed transmission.

Do Electric Cars Have Oil?

Electric cars do not use an Internal Combustion engine, so there is no need for the use of motor oil.

But they do require some lubricants. This is because they operate on a system which has some transmission set-up.

The Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) which use a combination of gas powered and electric motor set-up, do need the use of oil for their engine.

These HEV/PHEVs(PlugIn Hybrid Electric Vehicles) not only require engine oil but also need high grade performance lubricants.

All electric cars need some lubricants such as brake oil, engine coolant etc.

This need to be periodically checked and replaced.

While EVs require lesser maintenance than conventional vehicles, it does not mean that they are maintenance-free.

FAQ Relating to Electric Vehicles and Gears:

Can You Put Gears on an Electric Car?

Yes. Electric cars can have gears attached. But it may conversely affect the efficiency and decrease the performance.

Electric cars powered by electric motors do not need a gearbox due to its large torque band and the instantaneous ability to rev up the RPM to the maximum.

Adding gears to the electric car is like adding training wheels to a car. It will work but it is completely unnecessary.

Why Does Tesla Have No Gears?

Tesla’s cars are known for their electric engines. They have a “single-speed transmission” which is more like a CVT (continuously variable transmission).

The one-speed transmission is not the only thing that makes Tesla cars different from regular cars. They also have regenerative braking and a battery system that can be charged from any outlet.

The recent Tesla Model 3 car does not have any gears. This model has a predictive gear selector, where the car guesses the direction you want to drive depending on the context, obstacles and navigation route. A manual override is also available.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, says that they are trying to make their cars easier to use and less complicated than other cars on the market today.

Can an Electric Car Have a Manual Transmission?

Currently, no electric cars have manual transmission. Most of them operate on a single speed transmission with the only exception being Porsche and having 2 speed transmission. 

Earlier, this year, Toyota patented models of an electric car with manual transmission. When and if this hits the market, we can experience manual transmission in an electric car.

Derek Bruce
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