How Do Electric Cars Work?

Young girl with sunglasses on charging her red electric car whilst looking at her mobile phone

You’ve almost certainly heard that the future of driving is electric cars. You’ve probably seen a Tesla out on the roads, or one of the many other types of electric car that are becoming ever-more popular. But how much do you know about them? What is an electric car anyway?

How do electric cars work? We’ll seek to answer these questions and more in this blog post which will tell you everything you need to know about these cars of the future.



How do electric cars work?


Electric cars may only now be seen as mainstream everyday vehicles, but they’ve actually been around since the 19th Century, predating even the famous Ford Model T. They were used as taxis and by the start of the 20th Century there were more than 30,000 electric cars on the roads.

However, advances in internal combustion engines made petrol-powered cars cheaper and easier to run so electric cars faded into the background. That’s all changing now though as environmental concerns and improvements in electric car technology are causing big changes in our driving habits.

Electric cars today are run through batteries and an electric motor rather than an engine, so they require charging rather than refuelling. This power comes from the power grid, either from a charging point in public or one at your own home, which tends to be cheaper than petrol or diesel though it takes much longer than filling up at a petrol station.

Almost all electric cars have automatic rather than manual transmission because they don’t require gears to increase the speed as they can generate maximum torque immediately.

Do electric cars have engines? Not in the traditional sense, like an internal combustion engine. They have a motor that is powered by the battery. What does an electric car engine look like? Looking under the bonnet of an electric car is certainly very different to one powered by petrol or diesel, with the electric traction motor the main thing you’re likely to spot.



How does an electric car work? - A simple explanation


If you want electric cars explained simply, then it’s just like any other car, but instead of running on fossil fuels and creating carbon emissions, it runs on electricity. That’s all the electric car information you really need to know.



Do electric cars charge while driving?


At the moment, electric cars can’t charge while driving, this is only possible with hybrid cars that can charge up the electric motors while they are being driven by the internal combustion engine. However, there are certainly plans in place to develop this kind of technology, so watch this space.



How much does it cost to charge an electric car at a public charging station?


It depends on the speed of the charging point and whether or not you have a subscription to a particular network. For a rapid charging point that you might find at a service station it can cost around £6 for 30 minutes of charging, while to fully charge a Tesla on its Supercharger network can be £28.


Just like mainstream vehicles, electric cars must be insured in order to ensure safety on the roads. When it comes to car insurance, UK providers will offer a range of policies to suit every preference. Check out our best car insurance quotes here.