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How do electric cars work?

If you want to understand how electric cars, or electric vehicles, work, and what is the difference between hybrid cars and pure electric cars, then read on.

How do electric cars work?

How does an electric car engine work?

Electric cars work by connecting them to a charging point and taking electricity from the grid. They store electricity in rechargeable batteries that are powered by an electric motor that turns the wheels. Electric cars accelerate faster than vehicles with traditional petrol engines - so they feel lighter to drive.


How does charging work?

You can charge an electric car by connecting it to a public charging station or to a home charger. There are plenty of charging stations across the UK to keep you fully charged while you're abroad. But to get the best deal for home charging, it's important to get the right electric tariff for electric vehicles, so you can spend less money on charging and save more on your bill.


Electric vehicles and their range

How do electric cars work?

How far you can travel at full cost depends on the vehicle. Each model has a different range, battery size and efficiency. The ideal electric vehicle for you would be one that you can use on your regular trips without having to stop and charge in the middle of the road. Explore our electric car rental options.


What types of electric cars are there?

There are several different types of electric vehicles (EV). Some run on electricity only, and these are called pure electric vehicles. Some of them can also be powered by gasoline or diesel, and these are called hybrid electric vehicles.

  1. Plug-in electric - This means that the car runs on electricity only and gets all of its power when plugged into a charge. This type does not need gasoline or diesel to run, so it does not produce any emissions like conventional cars.
  2. Electric Hybrid - These cars primarily run on electricity but also have a conventional fuel engine so you can use gasoline or diesel too if you run out of charge. When running on fuel, these cars will produce emissions but when they run on electricity, they won't. Plugged-in hybrid cars can be connected to a power source to recharge their battery.
  3. Electric Hybrids - They run primarily on fuels such as gasoline or diesel but also have an electric battery, which is recharged through regenerative braking. This allows you to switch between using your own fuel engine and using "EV" mode at the touch of a button. These cars cannot be connected to an electricity source and rely on gasoline or diesel for power.

What are the interior parts of an electric vehicle?

Electric vehicles have 90% fewer moving parts than an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. Here is a breakdown of the parts that keep the EV moving:

  1. Motor / Electric Actuator - Provides the ability to rotate the wheels. It can be DC / AC type, however, AC motors are more common.
  2. Inverter - converts electrical current in the form of direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC)
  3. Driveline - Electric vehicles feature a single-speed transmission that sends power from the engine to the wheels.
  4. Batteries - store the electricity required to operate the EV. The higher the kW of the battery, the greater the range.
  5. Charging - Plug into an outlet or EV charging point to charge the battery.

EV Batteries - Capacity and kWh shown

A kilowatt (kW) is a unit of power (the amount of power a device needs to operate). A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy (showing how much energy is used), for example a 100-watt lamp uses 0.1 kilowatts per hour. The average home consumes 3100 kWh of energy per year. An electric vehicle consumes an average of 2,000 kWh of energy per year.


electric car charging


How do you charge an EV?

You can charge an electric car either by plugging it into a socket or by connecting it to a charging unit. There are plenty of charging stations across the UK to keep you fully charged while you're abroad. There are three types of chargers:

  • 3-Pin Plug for Electric Vehicle Charging 3-Pin Plug - A standard 3-pin plug that you can plug into any 13A socket.


  • Socketed Electric Car Charger - A charging point where you can connect a Type 1 or Type 2 cable.


  • Tethered Electric Vehicle Charger - A charging point with a cable connected to either a Type 1 or Type 2 connector.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

There are also three charging speeds for electric vehicles:

  1. Slow - usually rated up to 3 kW. Often used for overnight or workplace charging. Charging time: 8-10 hours.
  2. Fast - usually rated at either 7kw or 22kW. They tend to be installed in parking lots, supermarkets, entertainment centers and homes with off-street parking. Charging time: 3-4 hours.
  3. Fast - usually rated at 43 kW. Only compatible with electric vehicles with fast charging capability. Charging time: 30-60 minutes.

Shipping during changing seasons

Weather affects how much energy your electric vehicle uses. You have a larger range in the summer and a smaller range in the winter.


Charging on the go

Don't forget to download the Zap-Map app to find the nearest charging station when you're abroad.


How far can you travel on one full charge?

The range of electric vehicles depends on the size of the battery (kWh). The higher the kWh EV battery, the more power it will travel. Here are examples of how far some electric vehicles will charge:

  1. Volkswagen e Golf - Range: 125 miles - the equivalent of a trip from Bristol to Snowdonia National Park.
  2. Hyundai Kona Electric - Range: 250 miles - the equivalent of a trip from London to the Lake District.
  3. Jaguar I-Pace - Range: 220 miles - the equivalent of a trip from Edinburgh to Birmingham