Can Electric Cars Use Gas? All Your Questions Answered


Nowadays, it is impossible to not hear about electric cars. They are all over the news and you can now see them driving around all over the place. Electric cars are slowly becoming the new big thing. Thanks to huge celebrity endorsement, exciting performance, and technology features. As well as, local, state, and federal government policy changes pushing towards electric vehicle usage, electric cars are quickly becoming some of the top-selling cars out there.

You may have wondered to yourself, can an electric car run on gas? A fully electric car does not use gas. While hybrids can run on gas or electricity, fully electric vehicles do not use gas since they do not have a traditional internal combustion engine that would require gasoline. Electric cars run solely on battery power.

Amidst a sea of questions about electric cars, you may have wondered, can you use gas in an electric car? Even if you could not use it long term, could you use gas for a short period of time just to get you to another charging station? In this article, we will dive into why gas and electric cars do not mix.

Why Electric Cars Do Not Use Gas

Why don’t electric cars use gas? Electric cars and internal combustion cars work very differently. In an internal combustion engine, gas is critical to the vehicle’s performance. Gasoline sprays into a chamber where it mixes with air and then compressed. From there, the mixture is met with a spark which causes it to ignite. This combustion, which gives internal combustion engines their name, forces a piston to move. Then it transfers that motion and energy to the drivetrain.

Whereas in an electric car, you have a large battery. When the car is charging, this battery is brought up to its full voltage level. When you are driving, your battery outputs a voltage to one or several motors. These motors are what deliver power to the wheels. There is a huge variety of electric car powertrains out there. Some use AC motors, and some use DC motors. There are also varying levels of gearboxes that regulate the speed of the motor. Likewise, there many are different voltage controllers. Regardless of what car you are looking at, they all operate off the same basic principle. A battery supplies voltage to some motors and based on the current supplied, that adjusts the speed of the motors.

As you can see, these two types of cars are fundamentally different. As such, the electric car has no way to utilize gas at all. For one, there is not anywhere to put gas in and there is nowhere to store the said gas. There is also no way to ignite the gas, even if you were able to store it. As such, gas is entirely useless in an electric car. This is in stark contrast to an internal combustion engine that will not function without gas.

Why A Hybrid Car Can Use Gas

Unlike a fully electric car, hybrids are capable of running off of gas. These are also very different from electric cars. The thing that makes hybrid cars special is that they have an internal combustion engine like a regular car but also an electric battery, hence the name, hybrid. This gives them the functionality of working as a regular internal combustion car, an electric car, or both.

There are many different types of hybrids available that offer different functionality. A standard hybrid has a small internal combustion engine which generally offers decent fuel economy on its own. It also offers a small electric battery. A standard hybrid gives little control to the driver over how they operate. Generally, the car will automatically choose whether the car is running as a regular car or as an electric one. This will be determined based on the charge of the battery, the throttle position, road incline, and several other factors. When it is appropriate, it will switch the car into an electric mode unless the battery is not charged enough.

There are also other hybrids known as plug-in hybrids. These offer some interesting features that standard hybrids do not. As the name suggests, these are hybrids that you can plug in (for example in your garage) and they will charge the electric battery. These are larger batteries than the ones found on your standard hybrid. These give you the control to operate as a fully electric car for a period of time. While ranges on these batteries are not huge, you can generally get 30-50 miles on a full charge on the electric battery. When the battery gets low, or if you choose to have the car run more like a standard hybrid, the car will kick on the internal combustion engine.

As you can see, hybrids vary quite a bit from electric cars. They can use gas as they have actual internal combustion engines on them. Depending on the specific hybrid they are capable of running off just gas, just electric, or a mix of the two.

Do Electric Cars Use Other Hydrocarbons (Petroleum Products)?

So, if electric cars do not use gas, do they use any other sort of petroleum products? The answer is yes. Particularly, petrochemicals are used all over the car. These include a lot of the rubbers that you see inside of a car, the plastics, and the different lubricants used in the electronic powertrain. These components provide critical functions to how the car works and are all petroleum-based. Generally, when people think of petroleum products, they think of gas and oil. Petroleum brings us so much more than that and you can find it used throughout any car, electric or not.

What To Do When Your Electric Car Runs Out Of Charge

What can you do if your electric car runs out of gas while you are driving around? Unfortunately, you cannot just pour a little bit of gas in to get you to the nearest charging station. What are your options? There are quite a few different things that you can do depending on the situation that you are in.

In order to charge your car, all that you really need is power. If you have a way of getting electricity supplied to the battery, you can charge your car. While most DC fast-charging stations, tesla superchargers, etc. offer much faster charging, even just plugging your car into a 110V wall outlet will charge it. If you can find a business near where you ran out of charge, they may let you plug in your car. It will be slow but if you have the time, you can get enough charge to get you to the nearest fast-charging station.

You could even use a generator to charge your car. If you run out of juice near your house, but have a gas generator at home, you can transport that to where your car ran out of battery and it will charge your car. Again, it will not be a fast charge, but it will be enough to get you out of a sticky situation.

As always, you could get your car towed. If you are in the middle of nowhere and none of the other options work for you, you can get your car towed to the nearest charging station or even to your house. While this will, most likely, be the most expensive method, it is always an option if you are in a bind.

The best thing that you can do is plan ahead so that you do not drain your whole battery. Most electric cars will let you know when your battery is getting low and where the nearest charging stations are. This will help you prepare and plan your route so that you do not end up with a dead battery in the middle of nowhere. As the charging infrastructure grows, this will become less and less of a problem.

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