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Graphic of Constantine the Octopus changing the tyre of an EV
  • Sep 29, 2022

  • 7 min read


What are the key components of EVs and how do they work?

The most advanced tech is found in an EV both in the cabin and under the bonnet, and some can even self-drive (hands on the wheel please!). They are fun and exciting to drive, and many of them look and feel similar to any other car - but with a closer look, you’ll soon realise an EV is much more than your average petrol-powered motor car.

With different internal workings, various charging options and lower running costs, electric cars are very different from their petrol or diesel counterparts.

Let’s take a look at exactly how an electric car works and what makes it a more energy-efficient, sustainable alternative to internal combustion engines.

How do electric cars get their power?

It’s in the name! Electric vehicles are powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels. The electricity comes from an external source by plugging the car into a charge point, either at home or a public charging station.

Recharging your electric car is considerably cheaper than refilling a fuel tank, but depending on how you charge your vehicle, the speed and cost of recharging will vary.

Home charging of EVs

Home charging is by far the cheapest way to charge. This is especially true if you have a specific smart electric vehicle energy tariff like Intelligent Octopus Go.

It's slower than other ways to charge with 15-30 miles added per hour, taking around 8-10 hours from a completely empty battery, but as most charging is done overnight this is hardly getting in the way of your travel plans. We should also add that similar to a petrol vehicle it will be very rare that your battery is completely empty. On average a UK driver drives 20 miles a day, with the average electric car range being 194 miles. You should still charge your car when you can.

Fast public charging for EVs

Fast charging is much quicker at and can with the most powerful chargers deliver an 80% charge in under an hour but will be more expensive too, costing on average 12p per mile. You’ll typically find free charge points on-street, at supermarkets, service stations and in car parks.

Rapid public charging for EVs

Rapid charging is super-fast and will typically fully recharge your car within an hour. Bear in mind that it’s the most expensive way to recharge, costing on average 15p per mile, and your car will need to have rapid-charging capability to be compatible with rapid chargers.

How long does an electric car battery last?

Per charge, an electric car can typically run from anywhere between 100 and 300 miles, it completely depends on what model and make of an EV you have. The more Kilowatts (kW) the battery holds, the further a single charge will take you. Of course, like any other battery, a car battery will lose capacity with age and use. But tech is improving all the time, so the longevity of electric batteries will continue to get better too.

And once a battery is no longer used in an EV, it’s not necessarily discarded. There is a wide range of uses for them after they serve as EV batteries, including backup power banks for businesses.

Do electric cars charge while driving?

It’s true, to an extent, that all-electric vehicles can replenish some battery charge as you drive. The motor works to both push power out to the wheels and pull the power back in, like a dynamo on a bike – but it’s not enough to fully recharge the battery.

As exciting as a fully self-charging vehicle would be, technology hasn’t quite got us there yet. That said, with advancements in technology, like the potential for solar car panels or electromagnetic induction charging, it’s not impossible that a fully or mostly self-charging car might come our way in the near future.

Do EVs have the same parts as petrol-powered cars?

While it looks similar to petrol or diesel cars, an EV has very different parts and is much less mechanically complex. For one thing, there are about 90% fewer moving parts in an electric car and the parts it does have are much more energy efficient. Let’s take a look at the key components:

  • Electric motor: provides the electrical power needed to move the car wheels
  • Battery: stores the electricity needed to power the vehicle
  • Charging: charging cables plug into electric car charging points at home or at public charging stations
  • Regenerative braking: the energy used to slow the car is transferred back to the car battery

What are the advantages of electric vehicles?

There are huge advantages to making the switch to an electric vehicle. Here’s a rundown of the key benefits.

1. EVs are more environmentally friendly

Electric cars are much cleaner and greener alternatives to petrol or diesel cars:

  • Electric vehicles don’t emit any harmful exhaust gases, so they reduce air pollution
  • With the move to more renewable electricity generation, electric cars can run on even cleaner energy sources
  • They’re quiet, which means less noise pollution compared to loud internal combustion engines

2. EVs are cheaper to run

A key advantage to going electric is the much cheaper running costs:

  • The price of recharging your electric battery versus refilling your fuel tank is substantially lower; it could cost as little as 2.4p per mile to recharge your electric car
  • With fewer car parts to repair or replace, the ongoing maintenance of an electric vehicle is much cheaper, too
  • Since it’s an eco-friendlier car, you’ll also pay no vehicle tax until 2025

3. EVs are better performers overall

With EVs being simpler to drive for most people, having better acceleration and more usable power, electric cars easily outperform their petrol and diesel counterparts. So, it’s not just cheaper and more energy efficient to run, it’s a better driving experience too.

With all the advantages of an electric car, it’s a good time to think about making the move from petrol or diesel to electric. Its lower running costs, better performance and green credentials make an electric car the smart, clean and eco-friendly travel choice.

Browse all electric vehicles and check out our personal contract hire and electric car salary sacrifice scheme today. We’ll have you behind the wheel of your fantastic new electric car and hitting the road in no time.