If you are into cars or racing you have probably noticed that electric cars have an uncanny ability to accelerate much faster. Electric cars just seem to be able to zoom right up to speed off the start line but how so? What gives electric cars this impressive ability to accelerate so much faster than regular gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles?
Why do electric cars accelerate faster than conventional cars? Electric cars accelerate faster than conventional cars because electric motors are more efficient at distribution of power between wheels, have more sophisticated traction control systems, have an instantaneous response time from the pedal to the tires, and there is no shift time between gears.
When I say that electric car engines are more efficient, I mean that more of the energy that is produced by the engine actually goes into moving the car. With traditional combustion gas engines, a lot of the energy produced is actually lost in the form of heat, noise and friction. When you have an electric motor, heat is greatly reduced and all of those other variables are almost, if not completely, eliminated.
Electric cars are jam-packed with new technology that is top of the line and adds many advantages that you wouldn’t have with conventional combustion engine cars. Throughout the rest of this article, I will be discussing in more detail what allows electric cars to accelerate so much faster than conventional vehicles.
On a very similar note, if you’re interested in an in-depth look at whether or not hybrids are faster than gas powered cars check out our full article by clicking this link.
Why Do Electric Cars Accelerate Faster?
As I answered previously, there are multiple reasons to contribute to why electric cars can zoom off the line and beat many top-of-the-line sports cars of today in a 0 to 60 race. One of the biggest reasons for this is contributed to the fact that electric cars don’t have a transmission like combustion engine cars.
Traditional cars have fuel that goes to the engine, the fuel is combusted which produces the rotational power to move the car, but that energy has to pass through dozens of parts and gears to get to the wheels. Electric cars on the other hand use electricity instead of fuel. That electricity goes straight to the motor, and then the rotational power produced by the motor goes to a driveshaft that turns the wheels.
This electricity is comprised of electrons that are channeled into the motor to be converted into usable energy for the car. These electrons can travel much faster than the gas that has to pass through fuel lines, fuel pumps, fuel injectors, and then be compressed before any energy is actually produced. Again we can see that electric cars seem to “simplify” the process of getting energy from the fuel source to the wheels and this “simplicity” also means that the car accelerates much quicker.
With electric cars, there isn’t energy or time lost in fuel being injected and the pistons turning and combusting to cause the gears and driveshaft to turn. After all of that, you finally get the wheels to turn. Electric cars can skip all of that, making their engines much more efficient and also saving a lot of time, allowing the car to accelerate faster.
Are All Electric Cars Fast At Accelerating?
Just as your common sedan isn’t created equal to a Porsche 918 Spyder, so it is with electric cars. They are not all created equal. You have the Tesla S Performance model that can go 0 to 60 in an awe-shocking 2.28 seconds. That is faster than almost any gas-powered supercar as of today. Tesla in general, thanks to its specific design and engineering, has made very quick accelerating cars. Almost every Tesla model has a trim level that can be found to have a 0 to 60 time of below 3 seconds.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have cars like the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf that go from 0-60 in 3 years. No just kidding, it’s around 6.5 and 7.4 seconds, respectively. As you can see there is a solid few-second difference between these cars and Tesla, but how does it compare to your average gas-fueled car? Most of your common sedans like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have a 0-60 acceleration time of about 8 seconds.
When we make the comparison with this knowledge, we can see that as a whole, electric cars accelerate much faster. Though there are cars like the Nissan Leaf that have almost the same acceleration as your conventional car; that is the lower end of the scale for electric cars. The technology and science behind electric motors and electric cars allow them to have an undeniable advantage when it comes to acceleration.
Why Do Electric Cars Usually Have Higher Horsepower And Torque?
Another good bit of knowledge to have is that electric cars have higher horsepower and greater torque than conventional cars, both of these characteristics contribute to the ability of electric cars to accelerate faster. Horsepower is the measure of the rotational power an engine creates, while torque is the measure of force used when turning an object in a circular motion.
In regular gas-powered cars, a large percentage of power produced by the engine is lost through heat and friction as it makes its way through the drivetrain or exhaust pipes (as was mentioned earlier in this article). Electric engines are able to take the energy directly from the batteries and convert that in a way that allows the wheels to spin, with very little heat or friction loss.
Electric cars boast a feature that many mechanics call “instant torque”. In conventional vehicles, there is something called a torque curve where the torque is relatively low at the beginning and gradually peaks and then descends again as the car speeds up. Electric cars have the ability to maintain a high amount of torque from the start all the way through the acceleration of the car. This means that even from the get-go, 0 RPMs, the wheels receive the same amount of rotational energy as they are getting when the car is going 70 MPH.
This phenomenon is achieved by the fact that electric cars don’t have to waste a lot of time or energy getting the car going. The electric motor of the car can instantly convert the energy in the batteries to driving energy for the car. The fewer gears and components that the energy has to pass through to reach the wheels, the less time it will take to accelerate.
In conventional gas fuel engines, only about 30 percent of the energy produced by the engine is able to be used to start the car moving forward. In contrast, electric cars are able to use nearly 90 percent of the energy produced to get the car moving. This big gap in motor efficiency is a big reason why electric cars can accelerate so much more quickly than internal combustion cars.
How Do Electric Cars Keep Such Good Grip When Accelerating Quickly?
With all of this added torque, how do electric cars not just spin out? Well two main reasons in fact. Firstly, electric cars come with wider tires. For example, a Tesla model S rear tire is 11.2″ wide, and a Toyota Camry rear tire is 8.5″ wide. This allows Tesla to have a significant amount of more rubber on the ground which leads to better traction and grip.
Secondly, electric cars also have more advanced traction control systems than conventional vehicles. The torque given out by electric motors is both instantaneous and more constant, and therefore the computer can better calculate how much torque each wheel is receiving at any given instant and help avoid tire spin.
We also have to remember that electric cars don’t have gearboxes and don’t have to shift. We have all experienced when a traditional car shifts there is usually a slight jolt, or a big one if it wasn’t a good shift, and this jolt can have an effect on traction, as well as 0-60 time. With electric cars, there is never this jolt so the tires are able to have a constant, uninterrupted grip on the ground, and shift times are now gone.
Electric cars and the new technology in them allow for quick and efficient acceleration and driving. This technology will continue to develop and in the future, we’ll see some blistering fast EV’s.
How fast is the Ford Lightning? The Ford Lightning has 563 horsepower that is pushed out through two inboard motors into all four wheels. It is estimated that the Ford Lightning will be able to go from 0 mph to 60 mph in the mid 4 seconds range. This will be the fastest truck that Ford has made so far. To learn more about the speed and power of this new generation F-150, check out our full article by clicking this link.