How Do Electric Cars Work?

If you’re thinking about cutting down your carbon footprint when it comes to private transportation, then electric cars might be the right choice for you. Compared to fully gas-powered cars, electric cars are an environmentally friendly alternative. But how do electric cars work? How do you charge them? What kind of charging components should you worry about?


What are electric cars?

Electric cars, also known as electric vehicles (EVs), are automobiles powered entirely or primarily by electric motors, using energy stored in rechargeable batteries. Unlike a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, which runs on gasoline or diesel, electric cars use electricity as their primary energy source. They don’t require explosive combustion from burned fuel to generate energy so they can move.

Electric cars are increasingly becoming more and more popular, as these cars can help offset environmental impacts. In 2022, there were about 25.9 million electric cars operating globally. This shows a significant growth in the EV market in the past decade, and it’s being forecast that this number will only continue to grow.

Here are some key features and aspects of electric cars:

  • Power source: Electric cars are powered by one or more electric motors that draw electricity from a large battery pack. These batteries are typically lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries. These are similar to the batteries used in laptops and smartphones, only much larger.
  • Charging: The batteries in electric cars are recharged by plugging into an external power source. This can be a standard household outlet, a dedicated home charging station, or public charging stations that offer various levels of charging speeds.
  • Environmental impact: Electric cars produce zero tailpipe emissions, making EVs cleaner and better for the environment compared to traditional ICE vehicles. The overall environmental impact depends on how the electricity used to charge the batteries is generated (e.g., renewable sources vs. fossil fuels).
  • Performance: Electric motors provide instant torque, which can result in quick acceleration and smooth performance. Many electric cars offer high efficiency and can travel significant distances on a single charge. Of course, the range can vary by model and brand.
  • Maintenance: Electric cars generally require less maintenance than ICE vehicles because they have fewer moving parts. For example, there is no need for oil changes, and brakes on EVs often last longer due to regenerative braking systems.
  • Infrastructure and adoption: The adoption of electric cars is growing globally. This is supported by advancements in battery technology, increased range, declining costs, and expanded charging infrastructure. Governments and organizations are also providing incentives and subsidies to encourage the use of electric vehicles.


Overall, the rise of electric cars represents a significant shift towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly options for transportation.


Types of electric cars

Electric cars can be categorized into several types based on their propulsion systems and the extent to which they rely on electric power. Take a look at some of the main types.


Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
BEVs, also known as all-electric vehicles, rely solely on electricity stored in batteries to power the electric motor. They do not have an internal combustion engine (ICE). Its key features include zero tailpipe emissions, recharging through external electrical sources, and typically longer electric-only ranges compared to hybrids. Examples of BEVs are the Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, Nissan Leaf, and Chevrolet Bolt.


Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
PHEVs have both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. They can run on electric power alone for shorter distances, after which the ICE can take over or work in conjunction with the electric motor.

It can be charged by plugging it into an electrical outlet. PHEVs offer flexibility with an extended driving range thanks to the additional gasoline engine. They also have reduced emissions compared to traditional ICE vehicles, especially on shorter trips. Examples of PHEVs include the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Prime, Ford Escape, and Jeep Wrangler.


Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
HEVs combine an electric motor with an internal combustion engine as well, but cannot be plugged in to recharge. The battery is charged through regenerative braking and the internal combustion engine.

Since these types of electric cars use a combination of electric power and gasoline, fuel efficiency is much more optimized. They have a limited electric-only driving range compared to PHEVs and BEVs. However, they still have generally lower emissions than traditional ICE vehicles. Some examples of HEVs include the Toyota Prius (non-plug-in version), Honda Insight, and Ford Escape Hybrid.


Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs)
EREVs are a subtype of PHEVs where the vehicle operates as a BEV until the battery is depleted, after which an ICE generator produces electricity to power the electric motor and extend the vehicle's range. This means EREVs are primarily powered by electricity, with the gasoline engine used as a sort of generator. They also have a longer electric-only range compared to typical PHEVs. An example of an EREV is the BMW i3 with Range Extender.


Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)
FCEVs, on the other hand, use a fuel cell to generate electricity from hydrogen, which then powers the electric motor. They emit only water vapor and heat. These electric cars have zero tailpipe emissions and boast quick refueling times, similar to gasoline vehicles. Known examples of FCEVs are the Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, and Hyundai Nexo.

Remember that each type of electric vehicle offers different benefits and trade-offs in terms of range, emissions, fuel efficiency, and convenience. They cater to a variety of needs and preferences among drivers.


Do electric cars use fuel?

Electric cars primarily use electricity as their energy source, which means charging infrastructures are necessary. However, it still depends on the type of EV if it can use fuel as mentioned above.

Here’s a quick overview of the types of electric cars and their fuel intake: 

  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): BEVs do not use traditional fuel (gasoline or diesel). They rely entirely on electricity stored in their battery packs.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs): PHEVs use both electricity and traditional fuel (gasoline or diesel). They can run on electric power alone for shorter distances, and then the internal combustion engine (ICE) takes over when the battery is depleted.
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs): HEVs primarily use traditional fuel (gasoline or diesel) but also have an electric motor that is powered by a small battery.
  • Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs): EREVs primarily use electricity stored in their batteries. They also have an ICE that acts as a generator to produce electricity when the battery is empty.
  • Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs): FCEVs use hydrogen as their fuel, which is converted into electricity by a fuel cell to power the electric motor.


How do electric cars work?

Electric cars operate using electric motors and battery packs. This means the way they work differs significantly from the internal combustion engines found in traditional gasoline or diesel vehicles. And while some electric cars might use fuel, they primarily run on electricity.

Here’s a breakdown of how electric cars work:


Key components of electric cars

  • Electric Motor: This converts electrical energy from the battery into mechanical energy to drive the wheels. Common types include AC induction motors and permanent magnet motors.
  • Battery Pack: The battery pack stores electrical energy to power the electric motor. They are typically made of lithium-ion cells. They’re also usually placed on the vehicle's floor to optimize space and weight distribution.
  • Power Electronics Controller: This manages the flow of electrical energy from the battery to the motor, controlling the vehicle’s speed and torque by adjusting the motor’s power output.
  • Onboard Charger or Charging System: This converts AC electricity from the charging source to DC electricity to charge the battery. These are usually integrated into the vehicle.
  • Charging Port: This connects the vehicle to an external power source for recharging the battery. This can also be considered part of the whole charging system of the electric car.
    Regenerative Braking System: This system recovers energy that would otherwise be lost during braking. It converts this into electrical energy, which is then stored back in the battery.


How do electric cars work

  • Charging the battery: When the vehicle is plugged into a charging station or power outlet, the onboard charger converts the incoming AC electricity to DC and stores it in the battery pack.
  • Powering the motor: The battery supplies DC electricity to the power electronics controller. The controller converts the DC electricity to AC if the motor is an AC motor or modulates the DC for a DC motor. After that, it adjusts the power based on the driver's input from the accelerator pedal.
  • Driving: When the driver presses the accelerator, the controller regulates the electrical energy flow to the motor. This causes the motor to generate the required torque to turn the wheels. The electric motor provides instant torque, resulting in smooth and quick acceleration.
  • Regenerative braking: During deceleration or braking, the motor operates in reverse to slow down the vehicle, acting as a generator. This process converts kinetic energy back into electrical energy, which is then stored back in the battery.
  • Monitoring and management: The vehicle’s onboard computer continuously monitors the battery status, energy consumption, motor performance, and other critical parameters to ensure efficient and safe operation.


It’s important to remember that electric cars work by using electrical energy stored in their batteries. With enough electrical energy, they can power the electric motor, and with sophisticated control systems, they can manage energy flow and vehicle dynamics for efficient operation.


How are electric cars charged?

Electric cars are charged by connecting to an external electrical power source through a charging port. This can either be done through home charging or a public charging station. The process involves transferring electrical energy from the power source to the vehicle's battery pack.

Here’s an overview of the charging process for electric cars:

  • Plugging in: For wired charging, the driver connects the charging cable from the charging station or wall unit to the vehicle’s charging port.
  • Initiating charging: The electric vehicle and charger communicate to ensure a safe and proper connection. Charging may begin automatically, or the driver might need to start it via a button on the charger or through a mobile app.
  • Charging: The charging station delivers electrical power to the vehicle's onboard charger, which converts AC power to DC power to charge the battery. This is known as slow charging for EVs. For DC fast charging, the station directly delivers DC power to the battery. The vehicle’s battery management system monitors and controls the charging process to ensure optimal performance and safety.
  • Monitoring: Many electric vehicles and charging stations come with their own apps or interfaces that allow drivers to monitor the charging process. This includes charging status, estimated time to full charge, and other relevant charging information in real-time.
  • Completion of the charging: Once the battery is fully charged, the charging system will automatically stop the flow of electricity to prevent overcharging. The driver can then disconnect the charging cable from the vehicle and the charging station.


While charging an electric car seems straightforward enough, it’s also best to remember that there are different types of EV chargers. This includes home chargers, public charging stations, rapid chargers, dedicated EV chargers, and more. Different EV charger connection types should also be considered before a driver can choose where to charge their EVs.

By understanding the various methods and levels of charging, as well as the necessary connectors and ports, electric car owners can effectively manage their vehicle’s energy needs while ensuring convenience and safety.


What makes SOLUM EV Power Module the best for EV chargers?

With electric cars on the rise, it’s evident that efficient EV charging is becoming more and more necessary. In fact, at the end of 2022, there were reportedly 2.7 million public charging points worldwide. However, finding the best charging solution for you and your electric car is not that easy. This is where SOLUM EV Power Module comes in.

SOLUM EV Power Module is an advanced EV power module designed for efficient and reliable EV charging stations. It blends efficiency, reliability, and innovation, making it a versatile power solution for various EV charging applications. It can be utilized in community and residential charging stations, fleet terminals, public fast charging stations, workplace charging stations, fuel stops, and more.

Here are several features and benefits that the SOLUM EV Power Module can bring to EV charging:

  • Ultra-high efficiency to deliver 30kW to 50kW of voltage with an efficiency rating of 95%
  • Ultra-high power density to support faster and higher power conversions
  • Ultra-wide output voltage range from a charging voltage of 150VDC-1000VDC (adjustable) to meet various voltage demands of different EV charging requirements
  • Ultra-low output ripple voltage can help protect the EV battery lifespan
  • CCS (Combined Charging System) standard compatibility, which allows easy integration into different kinds of electric vehicles
  • Complete protection and alarm function, which includes features like input overvoltage protection, under-voltage warning, output overcurrent protection, and short circuit protection
  • Compact form factor of power delivery for reliable and space-saving chargers
  • Stackable design where up to 256 power modules can be connected in parallel, making it possible to build ultra-fast EV chargers
  • High-temperature tolerance, which allows the power module to operate at a high temperature of up to 60°C
  • Ultra-low standby power with a consumption of less than 10W for the 30kw variant and 15W for the 50kw variant, for much more significant energy savings

SOLUM EV Power Module can help bring the electrical energy electric cars need all the while contributing to the community as a sustainable e-mobility solution.

Talk to SOLUM Group experts today and find out how efficient EV charging from SOLUM can enhance your experience with electric cars.

SOLUM Marketing


how do electric cars work
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