Electric vehicles (EVs) have been all over the news for the past few years. Almost everyone has heard of electric cars – it’s not a new concept. The popularity of electric cars has increased the interest of people to know how EV cars work? For example, what are the electric vehicles components, types of electric vehicles and more.
If you are not a motorhead and want to understand all of the above in a simple way, you’re at the right place. Let’s begin with what electric cars really mean.
What are Electric Cars?
Remember the time when we as kids used to play with RC (remote controlled) cars. Electric cars are only a bigger, more reliable and practical version of those toy cars.
Simply put, cars which depend upon batteries to provide them with electric power to operate are electric cars. This doesn’t mean that an EV is solely dependent on a battery for power. It can have different sources of power.
Let’s discuss types of electric vehicles.
Types of Electric Cars
Depending upon the combination of the power sources, electric cars are classified into various types.
1. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
These only use batteries as a power source. The battery is charged through a plug in source at home, office or electric charging stations. These cars don’t have any engine as batteries operate the car and get charged through external sources.
Common examples include Tesla model S, Rinco Aria EV, etc.
Read more: Rinco Aria: Pakistan’s most Affordable EV
2. Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
These types of electric vehicles use two power sources. Battery and an engine to power the car and charge the batteries. These are the most common types of hybrid electric vehicles that exist in Pakistan.
Common examples include Toyota Prius, Toyota Aqua, Honda Insight, etc.
3. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
These electric vehicles require a plug-in power source to charge the car’s battery. When batteries are sufficiently charged, these operate like a BEV. However, when they are low on charge, you can either plug-in or the engine of the car will power the car as well as batteries as you drive it.
There are only a handful of these cars in Pakistan, probably due to their high price. Common examples are MG HS PHEV, Toyota Prius PHEV, etc.
Now that you understand what electric cars are and their types, it’s time we move on to components of electric vehicles.
Components of Electric Vehicles
Electric cars don’t require an engine and hence have 90% less moving parts as compared to any internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Any electrical vehicle has the following set of components to make it work. Let’s discuss each below.
Batteries are the powerhouse of electric vehicles. These are mostly located in the bed of the car allowing for a better use of space and lower center of gravity. Both of these mean EVs have a lot of space and great stability.
Many auto manufacturers prefer to use multiple modules packed in a single battery pack. This way battery capacity and charge dissipation is highly efficient.
2. Power Control Unit
While the regular electrical equipment of a car operates by using AC current, batteries store charge in DC current. So there needs to be a DC to AC converter. The unit that converts DC current from battery to AC current is called an inverter.
Inverter, better known as power control unit, makes sure all electrical equipment using AC current in the car gets an appropriate supply of electrical current without any disruption. It also makes sure that any charge produced from regenerative braking is transferred back to the batteries.
3. Electric Motor
Electric cars use electric motors to power the wheels. The charge from the battery is regulated by a power control unit and distributed to electrical motors. These motors are highly efficient and powerful delivering high torque and power figures.
These are connected with the axles or the wheels. These are highly efficient as a single electric average size motor delivers more power than a 1500 cc – 2000 cc turbo charged ICE.
For example, a single electric motor in the Tesla Roadster produces 248hp, enabling the car to reach 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds.
It’s true electric cars do not have gears so what is the transmission for? It’s not an actual transmission as electric cars do not need any transmission to tune the power delivery. It’s efficient across all ranges of rpm due to instant power delivery.
The gears you see in an electric car are actually the drive mode selector. These are used to comply with certain rules defined by government agencies.
5. Battery Charger
BEVs require to be charged through a charger. It’s an inverter unit which converts the AC current to DC current to charge the batteries. Think of it this way, your laptop/mobile charger is converting AC to DC current and charging your phone battery.
The charging port lies where the fuel lid of a gasoline car is. In the case of PHEVs, these have both fuel and charging ports.
Ever wonder how fast chargers charge your car extremely fast? It’s because these fast chargers use high voltage DC current which enables the car to charge quickly by saving conversion time and increasing voltage.
All of the above mentioned components work together to make an EV run. Now to how EVs work.
How Do Electric Cars Work?
Batteries are charged though the charging unit which holds the charge unless needed. Once you drive the car, electric current is then transferred to the power control unit. This unit controls the power output and distribution across all electrical equipment of the car.
The electric current is then supplied to the electric motor which then rotates the turbine. Electric motors are usually attached in pairs on the wheels or axels to drive the car. Since it takes no time for electric current to reach any part of the electrical system, there is no lag in the acceleration of these cars.
This coupled with the high power figures of electric motors is the reason why these vehicles have such subtle power delivery.
Now that you know a lot more about EVs, what is your opinion about electric cars and their future in Pakistan? Let us know in the comments below.