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Published on October 22nd, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans


How Electric Cars Work

Electric cars, or battery electric vehicles, date back to 1835 when a professor from the Netherlands named Sibrandus Stratingh introduced a small scale electric car.  These cars are actually the predecessors to combustion and diesel engine vehicles.   Electric cars derive their energy from rechargeable battery packs that store chemical energy.  These battery packs in turn power electric motors and motor controllers as opposed to traditional combustion engines, which obtain their power through the burning of the petroleum-based fuel we know as gasoline.  

It’s important to note that true electric cars should not be confused with the hybrid technology that is so popular today.  Hybrid vehicles use a combination of battery power and gasoline.  True electric cars use electricity as their sole power source.  To further enhance the greenness of your electric vehicle, consider investing in alternative energy powers for your home such as solar, wind power, or micro hydro power so that your car’s batteries are being charged with renewable energies.

Throughout their history, electric cars have been shown to be more energy-efficient than other types of engines and running an electric car engine produces no exhaust fumes.  This means that electric cars do not emit toxic pollutants or harmful greenhouse gases.

The popularity of electric cars grew in the 1990’s when California made attempts at passing a Zero Emission Vehicle program to curb harmful pollutants as a result of automobile exhaust.  The failure of this measure, mixed with concerns about the length of time to charge batteries and the mileage per charge, led to a severe dip in the sales of electric cars.  Most manufacturers in the U.S. dropped them from their line altogether.  Recently, congress has appropriated $19 million to investigate cleaner automotive fuel sources and plans are in the works to revisit pure electrically powered cars.

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