How do electric cars work?

I was wondering what the physics behind electric cars is like. Are there any websites that will explain in detail the different concepts that these cars entail? Thanks!

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    An electric car is a vehicle that is run by an electric motor. That motor could be powered by electricity from lots of different sources. It could be transmitted by a third rail, overhead lines or induction from lines buried in the roadway and the vehicle may not even have a battery. It could be from energy stored on board in batteries, ultra capacitors, or flywheels, and it might be called a battery electric vehicle (BEV) Or the electricity could be created on the vehicle with solar cells (solar cars) fuel cells (a fuel cell vehicle FCV or FCEV) or it could be made by a gasoline engine that powers a generator in which case it is probably a gasoline/electric series hybrid.

    The electric motor is unlike an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE.) The efficiency of the ICE engine is dictated by the compression ratio in its cylinders. This is in turn limited by the compressibility of the fuel before it explodes (octane rating.) Much of this is set by the second law of thermodynamics because ironically the ICE is a "heat" engine. The theoretical efficiency of a pure gasoline engine is about 28% based upon 87 octane fuel.

    But the electric motor is not limited by the laws of thermodynamics. It is not a "heat" engine and practical efficiencies above 90% have been achieved. Some motors are DC (direct current) and will take DC current directly from batteries. Other motors are AC (alternating current) and may convert power to DC internally to power the motor. Some AC motors are three phase.

    Braking an ICE vehicle is a matter of providing friction that converts the vehicles inertia to heat and wear. In an electric vehicle with regenerative braking the motor is reversed to generate electricity from the mechanical input. The car's kinetic energy is converted back to electricity up to the ability of the system to store the produced power.

    The physics of energy production, storage and/or transmission presents very rich possibilities for examining physics at work. But it also presents such a huge diversity that this "short" answer could fill many pages.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Electric cars are something that show up in the news all the time. There are several reasons for the continuing interest in these vehicles:

    Electric cars create less pollution than gasoline-powered cars, so they are an environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles (especially in cities).

    Any news story about hybrid cars usually talks about electric cars as well.

    Vehicles powered by fuel cells are electric cars, and fuel cells are getting a lot of attention right now in the news.

    An electric car is a car powered by an electric motor rather than a gasoline engine.

    From the outside, you would probably have no idea that a car is electric. In most cases, electric cars are created by converting a gasoline-powered car, and in that case it is impossible to tell. When you drive an electric car, often the only thing that clues you in to its true nature is the fact that it is nearly silent.

    Under the hood, there are a lot of differences between gasoline and electric cars:

    The gasoline engine is replaced by an electric motor.

    The electric motor gets its power from a controller.

    The controller gets its power from an array of rechargeable batteries.

    A gasoline engine, with its fuel lines, exhaust pipes, coolant hoses and intake manifold, tends to look like a plumbing project. An electric car is definitely a wiring project.

    In o rder to get a feeling for how electric cars work in general, let's start by looking at a typical electric car to see how it comes together.

  • 1 decade ago

    There is a book on how to install an electric engine and also the film Not Too Hot Not to Handle and the film Blue Gold which describes amount of water required to make a car.

    Source(s): Blue Gold and above.
  • 1 decade ago

    Takes more energy to produce an electric car than a regular fuel burning one. There is no way to recycle the batteries for those electric cars as of today. So we can send them to third world countries to take them apart, and pollute their environment. So now, how is that hybrid/electric car working out for the people who say they care about the environment? They do not want to hear about this fact.

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  • 1 decade ago

    2011 Chevy Volt this fall.

  • 1 decade ago

    Go to howstuff

    They explain everything

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