How Do Electric Vehicles Work | Gates Ford

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How do Electric Vehicles work?

Electric vehicles work by incorporating a battery-powered electric motor into the car’s drivetrain. Mild Hybrid and self-charging Hybrid models use a smaller motor that simply provides a boost to the combustion engine, while the battery packs of Plug-In Hybrids are larger and can sustain a higher range on electric-only power. All-Electric cars, of course, do not have a combustion engine at all and use only the power generated by the motor. Here’s how the various components of an electric system work.

Battery Typically situated low down in the vehicle to maintain an optimum centre of gravity, the battery is a heavy component and is able to store a large amount of energy. Temperature has an effect on the battery which delivers a better range in warm weather. The lithium-ion battery normally used to power the electric motor is often separate from the auxiliary battery used to power the lights, climate control and more.
Electric Motor The electric motor drives the car’s wheels, and most models with electric capability feature one motor, which in all-electric models drives the front wheels. Some models, however, have two motors positioned on each axle, and these provide four-wheel drive.
Control Unit The control unit determines how much power needs to be sent from the battery to the electric motor. Power is drip-fed thousands of times each second to replicate the driving experience of a car that uses conventional fuel. Torque is almost instant in many electric vehicles though, meaning acceleration is keener than in a petrol or diesel model.
Regenerative Braking Most Hybrid and electric models use regenerative braking which recuperates energy that would otherwise be lost during braking and sends it back to the battery to increase your range. The energy is stored for use when you next accelerate.

How far can electric vehicles go?

With technology advancing at a rapid pace, new Hybrid and Electric Vehicles can travel much further than those produced five to ten years ago. Today, you can expect an all-electric car to cover upwards of 140 miles on a single charge, with plug-in hybrid models offering a range of around 30 miles on electric power alone, and a combined range of 300 miles or more. For example, the Ford Transit Custom PHEV can achieve 31 miles on electric-only power and over 350 miles in total. The Tourneo Custom PHEV can also travel 31 miles using just its electric motor and has a total range of 310 miles.

Common ways in which electric vehicles can be charged

Mild and full hybrid models do not need to be plugged in to charge their battery packs – this is done using power from the engine and/or regenerative braking. Fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars, however, must be plugged in to an external power supply in order to recharge the battery. They can be connected to a regular 13 amp home socket, a home wallbox, a public charging station or rapid charging point. Many work places also now have charging stations for staff to use.

Find out more about Hybrid & Electric Vehicles

If you’d like to find out more about the different types of hybrid system available, visit our What are Electric Vehicles? page. You can also discover more about how the hybrid cars in the Ford range work by contacting the team at your local Gates Ford dealership. Our staff know each vehicle inside out and can provide any details you require, answer your questions and take you for a test drive.

Don’t forget to check out our pages on future vehicles to find out about forthcoming Ford hybrid and electric models too.