What is an electric car anyway?

Don’t go to a car dealer and talk about how the battery moves an electric car (the battery powers the motor that moves the wheels). Do better. Learn a little more. Here’s a really simple summary:

All cars take potential (or stored energy) and turn it into kinetic or moving energy.

ICE cars

In an internal combustion car (the gas powered kind we all know and many of us own), energy comes from burning fuel, which releases heat and turns the pistons that turn the wheels. That’s why it has its name: internal (inside the motor) combustion (burning of fuel).

A tiny bit more detail:

Fuel and oxygen is pulled-into a cylinder, a piston inside the cylinder moves up and down as the fuel/oxygen mixture is burnt, pushing the piston down, it goes back up, etc. the moving piston rotates a crankshaft, which turns a driveshaft. The turning driveshaft causes the wheels of the car to turn.

Note: during one revolution of the crankshaft (where the pistons are) the amount of power changes depending on whether the piston is up or down. A flywheel is used to even that out. It receives energy from the piston during power stroke and then gives it back.

That’s a super simplified explanation of an ICE car.

It‘ll be even easier to explain the electric car.

EV car

First, kind of cool fact: the Tesla car is named after Nicola Tesla, (1856-1943), an inventor who created the induction motor, which is the most common type of electric motor.

A tiny bit more detail:

Electric cars use a battery (lithium ion cells) as the power source, a controller that sends the battery power to the motors. Motors connect to the wheels, and turn them. They don’t need flywheels, alternators, starters. Exhaust systems. Tailpipes.

They need really good batteries, though.

And lithium and cobalt (used in the batteries) are limited resources (check out the Debater article on this).

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