Those of you who have at least some experience with electric cars probably know that these cars tend to accelerate a bit faster than conventional vehicles. As a matter of fact, some electric vehicles are sprinting at truly astonishing speeds compared to traditional cars.
The main reason why this happens is because of how efficient electric motors are, not just with respect to torque and acceleration but also on account of their efficient energy conversion.
The lack of a traditional transmission allows electric vehicles to efficiently use the torque generated by their electric motors. This happens because the power produced by the motor reaches the wheels much faster due to the simplified transmission mechanism.
Over the next few minutes, we’ll try to find out more about the nature of electric cars in an attempt to learn precisely why they’re so fast, and why they seem to outperform gas-powered cars when it comes to short-distance acceleration.
Efficiency is Key
We should start off by pointing out that electric vehicles benefit greatly from every new technological concept to come out of the automotive industry, whereas conventional cars still adhere to old-fashion standards and engineering practices.
You see, combustion engines produce a lot of energy overall, but not all of it is put to good use. By comparison, electric vehicles employ fewer parts and gears during the transmission process, ensuring that every bit of energy produced by the motor reaches the wheels.
A Practical Design
Electric vehicles owe their fast acceleration time to a lack of a traditional drivetrain while still being able to develop an impressive torque at much-reduced energy consumption. In more practical terms, a decent electric motor can spin upwards of 20,000 rpm whereas gas-powered engines rarely go over 7,000-10,000 rpm.
By employing a more elaborate and well-calculated gear ratio, electric motors allow EVs to travel well at low speeds while being perfectly capable to operate efficiently at high speed if needed. In fact, some of these cars make use of not one, but two gear ratio mechanisms, thus reducing the amount of power needed to accelerate.
While conventional cars use a transmission to deliver torque to the traction wheels (usually the front wheels), an electric vehicle delivers it to all four wheels at the same time. In fact, the majority of all EVs employ four-wheel drive.
Combined with a high-power battery, a decent electric car can deliver instant torque at impressive rpm without having any negative effect on the car’s stability and capacity to steer. At the same time, EVs tend to use less energy overall.
Power and Efficiency
Even though most electric cars have a faster 0-60 mph rating, once the 60 mph threshold has been passed, internal combustion engines tend to reach much higher speeds. This is perhaps the only metric by which traditional cars outperform electric vehicles.
That said, electric vehicles are also more efficient in regards to fuel consumption. By comparison, an EV uses the equivalent of less than 5 oz of fuel per 100 miles, which is impressive considering how fast these cars can go.
Along with instant acceleration, a good electric car will also have a longer operational range compared to gas-powered cars, albeit with much longer recharge times. For someone who lives near an urban sprawl, an electric car definitely proves more energy-saving and efficient in the long run.
It isn’t just the speed that recommends electric cars to practical drivers. They have impressive horsepower, as well. When compared to standard cars, electric vehicles develop more horsepower for roughly the same fuel intake. The difference here, of course, is that gas-powered vehicles use fossil fuels.
Unlike gas vehicles that have established horsepower ratings, electric cars rarely do. Even so, complex measurements have shown that the Tesla Model S, for example, can develop no less than 588 horsepower. When you compare that to the average standard car, you will notice an increase in power that doesn’t really come with many downsides.
What’s interesting here is that most electric cars use torque vectoring to deliver the same amount of rotational energy to the wheels at 30 mph as they do at 60 mph. This allows electric vehicles to not only accelerate faster but to develop more horsepower overall.
Furthermore, you should know that gas engine cars tend to lose about 30 percent of the energy they produce due to the transmission mechanism, whereas electric cars retain about 90 percent. This partially explains why electric cars can accelerate so much faster than standard, traditional vehicles.
Speed and Stability
Given the incredible performance that electric cars develop at low speeds, some people understandably wonder how all that affects the cars’ stability. Well, you will be pleased to know that engineers took this into account long before new electric sports cars hit the market.
As a matter of fact, you will notice that most electric cars come with wider tires when compared with conventional vehicles. This allows them to get much better traction and grip on virtually any surface, provided that the driver knows what he’s doing.
Better Traction Systems
A better traction system is responsible for many of the performance advantages that electric cars enjoy over traditional vehicles. These systems allow the car to better calculate how much torque each wheel needs via a built-in computer, so as to avoid any spin-outs or losses in stability when driving at high speed.
Unlike gasoline-powered cars, electric vehicles don’t have gearboxes. This means that the driver never has to shift gears or worry about rpm thresholds. Those of you who have driven cars with gearboxes know that every time you shift gears, the car loses power for about a second, which obviously never happens with electric vehicles.
Pace and Silence
Many people associate fast cars with the sound of revving engines. This isn’t the case with electric cars that for the most part, make no noise whatsoever. In fact, you are unlikely to ever hear an electric vehicle accelerating near you.
Unlike a gasoline engine that you can hear from a mile away, your average electric motor makes little to no noise when running at full torque. Some electric car manufacturers have actually introduced technologies that make a certain amount of noise while the car is running so that drivers and pedestrians alike will know that a vehicle is approaching them.
Know that the same can be said about hybrid cars, which seem to have the best of both worlds. On one hand, they get the silent acceleration of an electric vehicle. On the other, they have the high speed of a gasoline-powered vehicle.
The Weight Difference
You should know that electric cars are a lot heavier than conventional vehicles. This is due in part to the battery pack and the added electronics. All of these systems make your average EV up to 700-1000 lbs heavier than a traditional car.
As we said, most electric cars enjoy a high standard of stability and reliability, thus what they lack in design they completely make up for in reliability. It goes without saying that the quick acceleration that these cars benefit from is fully matched by their capacity to break and shift direction.
We should also point out that battery size doesn’t really affect an EV’s overall weight that much, especially not as much as the quantum of all the other systems these cars incorporate. In fact, new versions of EV batteries are surprisingly lightweight given their improved performance.
Because of their beefy build, electric cars require much stronger suspensions. As you might imagine, this has a positive effect on their stability while accelerating and also while navigating tricky terrain. It would be fair to say that their stronger suspensions help a lot with their capacity to accelerate at any given moment while also helping with their braking power.
While the heavy frame would make a regular car difficult to handle, the exact opposite is true for most electric vehicles. This is because EVs lack the traditional components of conventional vehicles, including the parts that would make the car difficult to steer at high speed. That said, you can still lose control of an electric vehicle if you don’t respect the impressive torque that electric motors tend to generate.
All Things Considered
Electric cars have come a long way over the years and judging by what the market has in store, EV technologies are nowhere near to reaching their full potential. Bulky but reliable, these cars improve on the handling of traditional vehicles while adding tons of new and practical features of their own.
With regards to speed, you can expect most electric vehicles to accelerate faster than gas-powered cars due to the ingenious and much-improved energy conversion mechanisms that they integrate.
Overall, your average EV can accelerate twice as fast as traditional cars within the 0-60 mph spectrum, with the notion that the higher the speed, the more the gap between the vehicles closes.