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Understanding How Electric Cars Work

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Electric cars are a serious challenge to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powered cars. These cars have become popular with lower maintenance costs, lesser components, lower emissions, and better return on investment. But how do electric cars work? Do they employ an engine similar to fuel-powered cars? Do they need some type of fuel to power the vehicle? If you are wondering how EVs work, read on as we answer these questions about how electric cars work, their types, features and more.




Types of Electric Cars 

Before we understand how electric cars work, let's have a basic understanding of the types of electric cars. Just like ICE cars, you also get a couple of options for electric vehicles. Here are the most popular types of electric cars.

1. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)

BEV is an electric car that is solely powered by battery packs. Such electric cars do not use gasoline or an ICE for operation, so there's no reason to worry about the production of tailpipe emissions from your car. 

2. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)

HEV is a low-emission electric car that uses packs of small batteries to assist the fuel-powered engine. This electric car gets most of its power from gas, and users cannot plug it in for charging. 

The batteries are charged using regenerative braking and a generator connected to the gas engine present in the car. 

3. Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV)

PHEV is an electric car that provides an ICE and an electric traction motor. This is why they require Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) charging and operation using petrol, diesel or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). 

A PHEV runs smoothly on electricity until its power lasts – once the battery is out of power, the internal combustion engine takes over.

How Electric Cars Work

Unlike regular fuel-powered cars that require an internal combustion engine to operate, electric cars require electric motors and battery packs to propel the vehicle. 

Electric cars are very friendly for our environment as they do not burn gasoline to produce harmful emissions and cause almost zero noise pollution. They are charged at charging stations, and the power moves from the battery to the wheels, enabling the car to drive. 

Here is how electric cars typically work.

Step 1: The electric car’s battery is charged via an external power source, such as an electrical outlet or an electric charging station.

Step 2: The charged battery provides the required power to the electric motor, which then sends the power to the wheels.

Step 3: When you press the electric car’s accelerator, the electric motor pushes the power received from the battery pack to the car’s wheels, propelling the vehicle forward.

Step 4: The electric motor also works as a generator when the electric car is braking or coasting, using the car’s kinetic energy to charge the battery pack. This operation is known as regenerative braking.

Step 5: Regenerative braking utilises the electric motor to slow the car and convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy stored in the battery pack.

Step 6: The car’s onboard diagnostic manages the flow of electricity to the motor and other functions such as climate control, etc.

Key Features of An Electric Car 

As previously discussed, an electric car is very friendly for the environment as it causes no noise pollution and produces no emissions. Electric cars are very futuristic, and by switching to electric cars, drivers can easily see the difference it makes.

That said, let's take a close look at the primary features electric cars have to offer.

1. Zero-Emission

For the benefit of the environment, it's crucial to ensure that the vehicles we use on roads are not producing harmful gases. 

Thanks to electric cars, this aspect is now taken care of – electric cars cause zero-emission, making them ideal for reducing environmental impact. 

2. Low-Cost Maintenance

Even though some electric cars are expensive, once you get your hands on one, you will notice how easy they are to maintain, unlike regular cars. Maintenance of electric cars is way more affordable because it consists of fewer mechanical parts than regular cars. Furthermore, the running cost is also low as electrical energy costs way less than fuel. 

3. Silent Operation

Due to the lack of an internal combustion engine, electric cars remain completely silent when you drive. This way, you are curbing noise pollution with an electric car.

4. Easy to Operate

Electric cars are easier to drive than regular ones as they don't come with clutches. You don't need to shift the gear manually to make your electric car move. You must step on the car's accelerator to get it to move. 

Also, drivers feel absolutely zero vibrations while in the car, which increases their focus on the road while driving. 

How Do You Charge an Electric Car? 

As the name suggests, an electric car's functions differ from the regular ones. And therefore, unlike traditional cars that require petrol or diesel, electric cars need to be charged after a certain period to run correctly.

To charge an electric car, you will need to have access to an electrical grid, and you can either do this at home or take the car to a commercial charging station. 

There are three ways to charge an electric car – read on to learn more about the ways.

Level 1 Charging

You will need a 120 Volts power outlet for this type of charging. You can charge your electric car at home in this way without using any special equipment. 

However, keep in mind that the charging cycle of level 1 charging is way slower compared to others. If you charge your electric car for an hour using level 1 charging, your car will run for about 10 to 15 kms. 

Level 2 Charging

For this level of charging, you will need to use a power outlet of 220- or 240- volts and speciality equipment. Unlike level 1 charging, level 2 charging works for all kinds of BEVs, and its charging cycle is way faster than level 1 charging.

If you charge your vehicle for an hour, you may get a range of 10 to 25 kms. 

DC Fast Charging

This kind of speciality EVSE converts AC electricity into DC electricity in the charging station and delivers energy into the electric car's battery way faster than level 1 and level 2 chargers. 

It takes 15 to 45 minutes for the DC fast charger to complete the charging process of an electric car. Remember that this kind of charging works for certain plug-in electric cars. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some common questions about electric cars.


Does an electric vehicle have an engine similar to petrol/diesel cars?

No, electric cars do not employ an ICE to operate. However, it takes the help of electric motors that convert the kinetic energy they receive from electricity into mechanical energy to propel the vehicle. 

Will the battery get charged while driving an electric car?

No, you cannot charge your electric car's battery while driving. You have to set aside time to charge it completely before you drive. It takes little time to charge the majority of electric cars. Even if you charge your car for one hour, you can go for 20-25 kms without worries. 

Do electric cars have simple working mechanisms compared to petrol/diesel cars?

Electric cars are much more straightforward than regular ones, as they have fewer mechanical components. They are easy to drive, plus they are also very easy to maintain. 

How much time does it take to charge an electric car?

The charging time of an electric car solely depends on the battery capacity, charging station, current flow rate, and more. Make sure to check the charging conditions of your electric car to find out how long it takes to charge fully. 

Which is the best type of car insurance for electric cars?

For wider coverage, opt for Comprehensive Car Insurance Policy for electric cars since it covers damages to the vehicle, theft and coverage against third-party liabilities. You also have the option to include suitable add-on covers to enhance the coverage.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet; and is subject to changes. Please go through the applicable policy wordings for updated ACKO-centric content and before making any insurance-related decisions.


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