How Electric Car Engines Work

In an era of rising gas prices, the American public has seen a renewed surge of interest in the kinds of fuel economy that they get in their vehicles. People are trading out and selling the gas-guzzling trucks or SUVs of yester-year, and increasingly choosing cars based on gas mileage. This trend includes a definite increase in the number of hybrid and electric cars that are being bought and sold, as people begin to embrace new alternative energy possibilities. But what is an electric car, and how does it work?

A completely electric car is powered by either batteries that must be recharged at charging stations, or fuel cells. Fuel cells take in hydrogen gas and convert it into electricity. Often, electric cars can also run on (or at least be supplemented by) solar energy in the form of panels on their roofs or bodies.

This electricity source, whatever it might be, is used to power an electric motor. The motor is a coil of wire that can spin freely inside a casing of magnets. When electricity is fed into the wire, it makes a magnetic field that turns the coil very quickly. By fastening the spinning coil to an axle, the wheels are driven along. A modern electric car can get 250 miles or more on a single charge, more than sufficient for most day to day commuting purposes.

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