How Do Electric Cars Work?

Electric cars are powered by an electric motor, via rechargeable batteries, which then turns the wheels. They are plugged into a charge point and use electricity from the grid to recharge the battery. The battery power rather than combustion engine power, in the case of all-electric models, makes them different from petrol and diesel models.  



Do Electric Cars Have Engines?

The simple answer is no, all-electric cars do not have engines. The electric motor is instead fuelled by rechargeable batteries. As is often the case with any object powered by electricity, there is a lot of wiring involved as opposed to a traditional petrol- or diesel-powered engine. As the car is run by electricity, there is no exhaust pipe, and thus no tailpipe emissions caused by running the vehicle.  


Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), however, combine a combustion engine with an electric motor. Although the engine produces exhaust emissions, the electric power reduces a car’s reliance on petrol or diesel and makes for more efficient motoring. Many hybrids, such as the Citroën C5 Aircross SUV Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), also have an all-electric range for shorter journeys.   


There are a number of other differences between an electric motor and a fossil-fuelled engine: 


  • The initial cost of the electric motor is often lower. 

  • An electric motor tends to have a longer lifespan. 

  • As long as they are properly maintained, electric motors require less maintenance than their more traditional counterparts. 

  • They are also much more energy efficient, as they turn the car off when stopped and charge the battery when under braking or deceleration, when regenerative braking is activated.  


How Do They Work?

Before driving away in an electric vehicle (EV), you can charge it via a public charging station or a home charging unit. As EVs have become more popular in recent years, more and more public electric vehicle charging ports are available and can be found in various car parks and other areas around the country.  


There are many different parts of a standard electric vehicle, such as: 


  • Battery: gives power to the entire vehicle by storing the electricity required to run the car.  

  • Charge Port: connects the vehicle to the external power supply and recharges the battery.  

  • Electric Motor: provides the energy to turn the wheels, using the power from the battery. 

  • Inverter: converts the electricity from a direct current (DC) to an alternating current (AC). 

  • Drivetrain: a single-speed transmission that takes the power from the electric motor to the wheels. Hybrids, however, usually feature several gears and an automatic transmission. 


All-electric vehicles don’t have several gears like an ordinary petrol or diesel car does, instead operating on a single ‘gear’.  


The power of an EV is also presented in a different way. While petrol- and diesel-powered cars often use brake horsepower (bhp), the unit of power for EVs is kilowatts (kW), although you will often see bhp equivalents. On average, electric cars consume around 2,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. Of course, this varies depending on their usage.  


A unique aspect of EVs is also that they can regenerate power when braking, which is a genius bit of design. This feature uses the thermal energy from the brake pads and the friction from the tyres, which are reused to give power back to the batteries.  



How Do Electric Cars Drive?

If you have ever driven an electric vehicle, you may feel subtle differences to the way they feel when you’re behind the wheel. As the power is delivered in a singular transmission from the electric motor to the wheels in an all-electric car, the torque is instant and available across a much wider range than in petrol or diesel cars. Due to the instant torque, they can often accelerate much faster than their fossil-fuelled alternatives. 


The batteries in an electric car can also weigh quite a bit, which means cornering may feel a little different to what you’re used to. 


Many onlookers often believe that electric vehicles are much more difficult to drive than more traditional cars, but due to having no gears or automatic gearboxes in the case of hybrids, they are often much easier to use.  


Another obvious difference is the noise generated, or should we say not generated, by electric cars. Though the natural sound of EVs is much lower, there are rules coming into place that mean some artificial noise is added to alert pedestrians and road users to their presence. 


Overall, the driving experience is similar in a lot of ways, but many drivers prefer electric vehicles due to the lack of tailpipe emissions generated and incentives like priority parking and tax exemption. 



Citroën Electric Vehicles

Through its commitment to electric mobility for all, the range of Citroën electric vehicles has something for many drivers – even business motorists, through the likes of the Citroen ë-Dispatch van



New Citroen ë-C4 100% ëlectric

The range of Citroën electric cars is championed by the brilliant Citroën ë-C4, 100% ëlectric,  

which combines comfort and class. As the car is 100% electric, it allows you to drive completely free of tailpipe emissions. 


It also has an up to  217-mile range (WLTP test cycle), with a battery capacity of 50 kWh, and an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty for 70% of its original charge capacity. The battery can also charge very quickly, with up to 80% charge in only 30 minutes using a 100kW charger*.


The New ë-C4 100% ëlectric also provides an elegant driving experience with several intuitive interfaces that are easy to use, such as the digital display showing driver info and battery level. The 10-inch capacitive touchscreen also shows energy flow, a statistics chart and the controls for battery charging status.  


*The vehicle will rapid charge at a rate of up to 100kW, depending on the power of the rapid charging station used and will take longer to charge at a lower power. Between 15-80% of the vehicle’s charge in 30 minutes from a 100kW charger. 



Citroën C5 Aircross SUV Hybrid

Different to the 100% electric New ë-C4, the C5 Aircross SUV Hybrid combines the benefits of electric driving with an internal combustion engine, for a “best of both worlds”.  


There are also up to 19 driving assistance systems to make your journeys a lot easier, as well as 6 connectivity technologies to enjoy, once you’ve linked your smartphone to the car.  


With an 80kW electric motor engine and a PureTech 180 S&S petrol engine for a combined 225 horsepower, this hybrid packs a punch.