How do electric cars work?


Quick Answer

Electric cars replace the internal combustion engine used in traditional automobiles with one or more electric motors powered by a series of batteries. Electric vehicles tend to have a shorter range and less power than internal combustion vehicles, but they produce no air pollution while running. When coupled with green electricity sources, an electric car can have an extremely small carbon footprint.

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Full Answer

Typically, electric cars contain a number of efficiency enhancements designed to allow the vehicle to get the most out of its power plant. Electric cars are usually lighter than older vehicles, and many include systems such as regenerative braking, which uses the friction created by slowing down to help recharge the battery. Drivers may recharge their vehicles by connecting them to their home electrical grid, and recharging stations are becoming more common in states with a high penetration of electric vehicles. The recharging process can be slow, however, with many models requiring an overnight recharge to return to full capacity.

Hybrid vehicles combine electric technology with an internal combustion engine to increase a car's gas mileage. These cars typically run on their electric motors until a certain speed is reached, then switch over to the gas-powered engine for better performance and long-distance driving.

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