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Simplicity & Reliability

Perhaps Electric Vehicle's most striking feature is the fact that they are so simple, and therefore, reliable.


  • Simplicity

    • A simple EV can be partitioned into three basic blocks: batteries, motor, and controller. 

    • In contrast, the internal combustion engine has many critical parts which, if any fail, the car stops moving.

  • Reliability

    • The entire propulsion unit is eliminated and replaced with electronic components that cannot break down or lose effectiveness over time.

    • “In internal combustion powered cars, studies have found that up to 80% of on the road failures are engine related.  Electric powered cars may eliminate many mechanical breakdowns” (Whitener 41).  Although old lead-acid batteries often required bi-weekly maintenance, new battery types are completely maintenance free.

    • “AC brushless motors require virtually no maintenance and can operate at much higher speeds, enabling more power to be extracted from a given weight of a motor”  (Whitener 34). 

    • It has been said that the motor of an electric vehicle can go up to one million miles, in which case a simple replacement of bearings would let it drive on for another million.

    • “The useful life of an electric vehicle [is] anywhere from 25 percent to 100 percent longer than the corresponding life of a combustion vehicle” (Perrin 178). 

    • The following information was obtained from Jerry Pohorsky, currently President of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Electric Auto Association (EAA).  When asked about the reliability and complexity of an gas car versus an EV, here is what he pronounced:

      • “In an EV, there are no where near as many moving parts, so not as many components to fail.  This underscores that simplicity directly implies reliability.  A gas power train may have in excess of 200 moving parts, each of which is critical for continued mobility, an EV has only one single moving part in its propulsion unit:  the motor rotor, the part that connects to the output shaft which in turn is coupled to the drive train gears.   These gears are of a fixed reduction ratio, not like an automatic or a manual transmission.  No transmission is needed because of the nearly constant power capability of the motor over a huge range of motor speed.  In contrast a gas engine has a narrow power band, and therefore needs a multi-speed transmission to match this peak shaped power curve to the wide range of vehicle road speeds.”



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