How an EV Works video – CNET

Electric Vehicles

Speaker 1: This may seem basic, but with all the noise around EVs, has anyone stopped to explain to you how they work? Here’s a simple version for people who just wanna know what they’re buying and not geek out. There are five main components that make an EV an EV roughly in order, they are the charger, the battery, [00:00:30] the power control unit, one or more motors and a gear. Yep. Usually just one Speaker 1: Contra contrary to common belief. The thing on your garage wall or at the shopping center parking lot, isn’t the charger. It just provides power to the charger, which is built into the car that charger converts the AC power that you’d have at home or at the mall to DC power, which your car’s battery stores. Now that can either be a level [00:01:00] one charge when it’s 120 volts like a common outlet, or it’s a level two charge when it comes from a higher level of voltage, like two 40 and supports a faster charge as a result. Here’s an exception when you go to a really fast charger, like a Tesla supercharge that is DC power, and it’s at far higher levels of power than your home could ever provide. Both of which are part of how that charges a car so much faster. Speaker 1: [00:01:30] The battery is the heart of the thing. This is what mostly determines an EV’s range makes an EV typically cost more than a combustion car and makes them way quite a bit more. It’s the magic. And sometimes the curses, the battery is typically laid out as a big flat thing under the belly of the car inside of which there are many smaller cells. Now, some EVs will diverge from this mattress style battery and use a few other batteries that are smaller and tucked away in different parts of the car. [00:02:00] In any event, batteries hold DC power. And that’s what gets put into them by the charger. Speaker 1: The power control unit is something that’s usually not touted to loudly in the advertising for an EV it’s kind of inside baseball, but really critical. It’s a box or maybe two that oversee the entire power train, easy to spot, cuz you’ll usually see big, heavy duty orange cables going to, and from it now most EVs use motors that run on AC [00:02:30] power. So the first job of the power control unit in that case is to convert the DC power in the battery back to AC power. Again, that the motor can use the PCU also interfaces the entire power train to the rest of the car, like making it respond to the accelerator pedal, wake up when you press the start button and critically send power back to charge the battery. When you coast or break lightly something called regeneration. Now we get [00:03:00] to the motor and the motor is of course what turns the wheels. But unlike a gas engine car, you might have one motor or several, depending on the vehicle’s intended performance, more motors can make an EV faster or can granted a very sophisticated form of all wheel drive or above. Don’t get excited about lifting the hood to see the motor. It’s much more compact than an engine. It’s not much to look at and it can be squirreled away in different parts of the car. You may not see it at all. Speaker 1: This [00:03:30] one’s interesting. Most electric cars have a very rudimentary transmission called a reduction gear, which is why you almost never hear it talked about there’s no six or seven or 10 speed gear box that you have to deal with, or that the car maker wants to brag about. That’s because electric motors are efficient and happy across a much wider range of RPMs. So they don’t really need much of a transmission to help them deal with different vehicle speeds or different loads. You may place on the motor, a Tesla model, three, a Nissan leaf, [00:04:00] a Chevy bolt. They all use a single gear and you don’t ever really interface with it. The guts of an EV may be unfamiliar, but they are definitely simpler. And one day will make electric cars less expensive than the ones that run gas today.