Technically, electric cars don’t have engines; they have motors. As much as we hear motor and engine used interchangeably, they are not the same. For example, engines are under the hood of just about every car on the road. They use a fuel, like gasoline or diesel, that combusts to perform work. Motors are used in electric cars, power drills, R/C cars, etc., and use electrical energy (supplied by a battery) to perform work. There are multiple types of electric motors.
We’ll take a quick look at the Tesla roadster, seeing as it’s currently the sole electric-only car available in the U.S. Powering the Tesla is a large electric motor, which is in turn powered by a 375-volt battery.
Tesla’s electric motor makes 185kw, which is the equivalent of roughly 250 hp. By comparison, Toyota’s Prius gasoline/electric hybrid uses a motor that makes 50kw, around 67 horsepower.
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