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How Do Electric Cars Work

Omkar Phatak
If you want to understand the inner workings of an electric car, this write-up will be an interesting read. Here, you will find an easy-to-follow explanation of the same.
Gas guzzling automotives may be a thing of the past some day, when they are replaced on a large scale, by vehicles powered by alternative technologies, that do not rely on gasoline for power. Their replacements are already around on streets, in the form of electric cars.

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Gasoline cars are converted into electrical cars, by running a complete redesigning and transplant operation.

The Working in a Nutshell

While gasoline cars run on internal combustion engines, that convert the chemical energy locked in gasoline into mechanical energy, electric cars run on AC and DC motors, powered by rechargeable batteries. The difference in the power sources that provide the force of operation, leads to a substantial difference in the internal machinery, of both types.
While the insides of a gasoline car are characterized by plumbing, electric car insides are known for their extensive wiring. Compared to conventional cars, electric ones are less polluting and more efficient.

Power Source: Rechargeable Batteries

The power sources of electric cars are rechargeable lead acid, lithium ion or nickel metal hydride batteries, connected in series. To power them up, you do not have to visit a gas station. Just plug it into an electric socket, like your cell phone and it gets recharged. Solar powered ones use solar cells to charge up the batteries.
Other technologies that are used as power sources for electric cars are fuel cells, which are special electrochemical cells, that can produce electricity. Many other alternative mechanisms are being developed that can run an inbuilt electrical generator, by harnessing the motion of the car itself.
It will be difficult to differentiate an electric car, from a conventional one, just through external appearance. However, one way of identifying them is the absence of sound of operation. Compared to gas guzzlers, who have clanking engines and moving parts, electric cars are smooth in functioning and silent.

Engine Equivalent: DC/AC Motor

The electric car engine is not a combustion engine but a DC or AC electric motor. It is the same kind which powers a fan or a compressor. The motive force for the wheels is provided by the DC motor, that is driven by power delivered by rechargeable batteries. However, power isn't directly fed to the motor, but is mediated by an AC or DC controller mechanism.

Speed Control Mechanism: DC/AC Controller

The speed control of an electric car is made possible by a DC or AC controller device. The controller device decides how much power is delivered to the main electric motor, that drives the wheels. The accelerator pedal is connected to potentiometers, which are further connected with the DC controller.
Depending on how much you press down on the accelerator pedal, the potentiometers deliver a proportional current to the controller. Depending on the current supplied, the controller delivers power to the motor. This is how speed is regulated by the controller. To understand the working, you need to know the working of a controller.
When electric cars are created by conversion of gasoline cars, the manual transmission is kept intact and usually locked in the second gear. The electric motor drives the transmission, which ultimately delivers power to the wheels.
All other systems, that are usually powered by the car engine, are replaced by electric motors. Heating is driven by electric heaters. This is how an electrical analog of a gasoline powered car, is created. Electric automobiles can attain speeds of 100 miles per hour. The only problem with them is the cost of production, which makes them expensive.
Future research in electric car design will focus on developing technologies to bring down the cost of production and creating more efficient ways of harnessing power from alternative energy sources. The trend has already started with the use of hybrid cars all over the world. Opting for electric cars is a smart decision for the future.