How does an electric car work: components and structure

An electric car, or e-car for short, can offer many advantages. It is primarily about doing something for the environment. The drive of an electric car has the advantage that it does not have to burn any fuel to move the car. But of course the electric motor in the car also needs an energy source, which in this case is the stored electrical energy from the built-in battery. One of the advantages is that the vehicle itself does not emit any emissions. So if the e-car is charged with electricity from environmentally friendly sources, the environmentally friendly form of locomotion is a success. In the following article we will explain which components such a vehicle consists of and what the structure of a w-car looks like. This means that you are well prepared when it comes to comparing different models and weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of this drive technology.

What components does an electric car drive consist of?

In order to understand how an e-car works, you first need to know which components can be found in a classic vehicle of this type. It will surely surprise you that there are only a few and significantly less complex systems than with classic combustion engines. The most important part and often the most expensive component is the storage for the required energy, the battery. There is also the battery management system, which takes care of the battery status, the use of energy and the general health of the individual cells. In addition to the actual electric motors, the power electronics are of crucial importance for you to move forward with your vehicle. Systems for cooling or for general temperature control are part of the structure of an electric car. Also electrically operated are the air conditioning and heating, the vehicle steering, the brakes and the usual additional systems, such as lighting or window cleaning. In many cases, the components of electric cars today are arranged in such a way that one speaks of a skateboard architecture. The main thing is that the battery is housed in the vehicle underbody between the axles. The actual drive elements are located on the axles together with the appropriate power electronics. This arrangement gives the car a lower center of gravity, the battery is better protected in the event of an accident and the space in the vehicle can be used more efficiently.

How does an electric motor work in a car?

The most important thing for the functioning of an electric car is of course the electric motor, which serves as the drive unit. The use of this technology, which was first patented in the 19th century, has many advantages. This means that it does not generate any vibrations, is particularly reliable, virtually silent and yet is not very affected by wear. In addition, a gearbox is no longer required to build an electric car. The full drive torque is already available from the first revolutions and so-called turbo lags no longer have an effect when accelerating. Therefore, the question of whether an electric car has a gearbox can be answered with „Yes, a special gearbox“ respond. The special thing about the gearbox of the electric car is that it usually only has a single gear ratio – i.e. no „gears“ or „switching steps“ exist. So all those who love shifting gears while driving will have to get used to it. On the other hand, in many cases significantly more driving pleasure is offered thanks to the even torque. In contrast to classic combustion engines, an electric motor also offers significantly higher efficiency, which can even reach 90%. This is mainly due to the fact that there are significantly fewer heat and friction losses. If the supply, i.e. the charging of the battery, is done with green electricity, this is a big win for the environment.

However, storing the necessary locomotion energy in electrical form is one of the greatest challenges for current vehicles. This is also one of the reasons why this engine technology has only become much more popular in the last few decades. In addition, you take advantage of the fact that the engine can also be used as a power generator – for example when driving downhill or when you brake your vehicle. This effect, which recovers electrical energy, is known professionally as „recuperation“. A sound generator is now on board so that the lack of background noise does not lead to dangerous situations in parking lots or in other areas where people drive rather slowly. This artificially generates a driving noise which serves as a warning. This must be active at least until a speed of 20 km/h is reached. A corresponding regulation has applied at least to all new electric vehicles since 2019.

In addition to several magnets, the electric motor in a car also has a rotor and a stator. The stator does not move, but has a uniform magnetic field. The rotor, on the other hand, is rotatably suspended and is supplied with an alternating current in order to generate an alternating magnetic field. In synchronous AC motors, this is used to generate the required attraction and repulsion forces. So-called power electronics play a decisive role here. This ensures that there is an interval-like, regular change in the rotor magnetic field. In this way, the electrical energy is precisely dosed and made available at the right frequency.


Electric vehicles are enjoying ever-increasing popularity. In such models you will also find many systems and components that you know from classic vehicles. For example, an electric car also has a kind of starter battery, which is used to supply the low-voltage electronics (i.e. all components apart from the electric motors) and can also temporarily store the electrical energy recovered, for example when braking. All in all, however, such a marvel of technology is far less complex from the drive side than a vehicle with a classic combustion engine because, for example, neither different gears nor shift stages are required. This makes repairs easier and generally makes an electric car significantly easier to maintain

A tip from CarTipsandmore:

Of course, the battery is one of the most expensive, but also the most important systems in an electric car. This absorbs the electrical energy during charging and temporarily stores it with as little loss as possible. This component is responsible for ensuring that your new car can achieve the desired range. However, as with other rechargeable energy storage devices, its capacity can degrade significantly over time. On the one hand, this is due to the normal signs of aging, but also to the fact that individual cells may fail completely. However, this does not mean that the entire battery would have to be replaced in this case – in general, regeneration or replacement of the particularly affected cells is sufficient. This is significantly cheaper and the price cannot be compared with a complete replacement. However, to be on the safe side, you can also take advantage of offers where you only rent the battery.

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