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All gasoline powered cards will slowly be replaced by electric vehicles in the near future. Growing concerns of environmental pollution, global warming and resource depletion will be three major causes for this gear shift in technology. Electric cars are already in vogue and enthusiasts are seen trading their gasoline cars for electric or hybrid versions! Even if these cars cost nearly 20 to 30% than the gasoline variants, they have enormous benefits where fuel economy, maintenance and most importantly where your carbon footprint is concerned!

All electric cars have a motor instead of an internal combustion engine. The major differentiating factor from gasoline cars is that no fuel is burned in an electric motor. Hence, there are zero gas emissions. Hence, they are termed as eco-friendly.

An electric car’s drive mechanism is mainly constituted of the following three parts:

  1. The car motor

  2. Motor controller

  3. Car batteries

Let us review these components to know more about the basic engine principle of electric cars:

Basically, all cars run on the principle of conversion of energy from one form to another. In a traditional gasoline car, the chemical energy stored in the fuel is converted into kinetic energy by the internal combustion engine, releasing byproducts in the form of combustion emissions. Whereas, in an electric car, the electromechanical energy from the batteries is converted first into electrical energy and then into kinetic energy required for driving the car.

1. The car motor: The accelerator pedal in these cars is connected to a potentiometer (variable resistor). The potentiometer sends an appropriate electric signal to the motor controller corresponding to the amount by which the pedal is pressed. If the pedal is not pressed, no signal is transmitted. If the pedal is grounded or fully pressed, maximum signal is transmitted. Thus the motor will deliver maximum power. The car motor may by a DC or an AC motor. DC motors are easy to maintain, more efficient and also allow greater acceleration.The motor can deliver between 20,000 watts to 30,000 watts of power.

2. Motor controller: This device is a link between the car batteries and the actual motor. It receives the controlling signal from the potentiometer connected to the accelerometer pedal. It will transmit the battery voltage to the motor depending on this input signal.

3. Car batteries: Car batteries can be simple lead-acid batteries or the more sophisticated and long lasting NiMH batteries. These batteries will be between 96 to 192 volts for a typical DC motor. The battery charging mechanism in an electric car is of prime importance. It monitors the voltage, amperage and battery temperatures to avoid battery damage by overheating. A typical battery can be fully charged in 3-4 hours via hard wired charging docks built specially for this purpose.

Hybrid Cars:

Hybrid cars are a huge sub category of electric cars. Many a times, both the gasoline engine and an auxiliary electric motor are present in cars to improve on efficiency. The combinations may vary depending upon the functions of the engines. Sometimes the electric motors provide the driving power while in other cases the combustion engine does the heavy work.

The basic engine principle of electric cars is simple, but a lot of technology goes into the refinement of the driving experience. Try building a basic one in your garage and you would have started your journey in the world of electric cars!

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