Electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly gaining popularity, with a 55% increase in sales in 2022 compared to the previous year. As more consumers consider making the switch to electric, it’s important to understand how these vehicles work and the components that make them different from traditional gas-powered cars.
An electric car is powered by a traction battery pack, which serves as an energy storage system. This battery pack stores direct-current (DC) electricity and powers the vehicle’s motor and other electrical components. Most EVs use lithium-ion batteries due to their high energy density.
The power inverter is another essential component of an electric car. It converts the DC electricity from the battery into alternating current (AC), which powers the motor. The inverter also converts AC back to DC during regenerative braking to recharge the battery. Additionally, the power inverter helps control the speed of the vehicle.
The electric motor is what makes an electric vehicle move. It receives electricity from the inverter and provides the power needed for propulsion. Electric traction motors typically use AC, which is more reliable than DC motors. The rotation caused by the AC electrons powers the vehicle.
An electric car’s charge port connects to an external power source, or charger, to charge the battery pack. The transmission transfers mechanical power from the electric motor to drive the wheels. Additionally, a DC/DC converter is responsible for converting higher-voltage DC power from the battery pack to the lower-voltage DC power required for vehicle accessories and recharging the battery.
The thermal system in an electric vehicle maintains a proper operating temperature for the battery, motor, electronics, and other components. This system ensures optimal performance and longevity.
When it comes to charging an electric vehicle, there are three levels of chargers. Level 1 is the simplest method, using a standard wall outlet and providing a charging rate of three to five miles of range per hour. Level 2 chargers, typically found in public charging stations, offer faster charging rates of 12-60 miles of range per hour. Level 3, or DC fast chargers, are the fastest and can charge a vehicle’s battery to 80% capacity in 20-30 minutes.
Electric vehicle batteries differ from traditional car batteries as they power the entire vehicle. They can be recharged by plugging into the electric grid using the vehicle’s electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE). Charging an electric car is similar to refueling a gas-powered car, but with electricity.
In summary, electric vehicles utilize a battery pack, power inverter, electric motor, charge port, transmission, DC/DC converter, and thermal system to power the vehicle. Charging an electric car is done through various levels of chargers, with DC fast chargers being the fastest option. Understanding the basics of how electric vehicles work is essential for those considering making the switch to electric transportation.
Definitions: EVs – Electric Vehicles; AC – Alternating Current; DC – Direct Current; BEVs – Battery Electric Vehicles; PHEVs – Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles; HEVs – Hybrid Electric Vehicles; FCEVs – Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles.