How Do All-Electric Cars Work?

All-electric vehicles (EVs) have an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. The vehicle uses a large traction battery pack to power the electric motor and must be plugged in to a charging station or wall outlet to charge. Because it runs on electricity, the vehicle emits no exhaust from a tailpipe and does not contain the typical liquid fuel components, such as a fuel pump, fuel line, or fuel tank. Learn more about electric vehicles.

Key Components of an All-Electric Car

Battery (auxiliary): In an electric drive vehicle, the auxiliary battery provides electricity to start the car before the traction battery is engaged and also powers vehicle accessories.
Charge port: The charge port allows the vehicle to connect to an external power supply in order to charge the traction battery pack.
DC/DC converter: This device converts higher-voltage DC power from the traction battery pack to the lower-voltage DC power needed to run vehicle accessories and recharge the auxiliary battery.
Electric traction motor: Using power from the traction battery pack, this motor drives the vehicle's wheels. Some vehicles use motor generators that perform both the drive and regeneration functions.
Onboard charger: Takes the incoming AC electricity supplied via the charge port and converts it to DC power for charging the traction battery. It regulates battery characteristics such as voltage, current, temperature, and state of charge while charging the pack.
Power electronics controller: This unit manages the flow of electrical energy delivered by the traction battery, controlling the speed of the electric traction motor and the torque it produces.
Thermal system (cooling): This system maintains a proper operating temperature range of the engine, electric motor, power electronics, and other components.
Traction battery pack: Stores electricity for use by the electric traction motor.
Transmission: The transmission transfers mechanical power from the engine and/or electric traction motor to drive the wheels.

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