Going Electric? The Anatomy of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

During the Africa Climate Summit held at the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC), President William Samoei Ruto stunned the delegates when he drove himself to the venue- In an Electric Vehicle. But do you know how an Electric Vehicle functions? Here’s how…

Electric vehicles (EVs) run on electricity stored in a large rechargeable battery pack. Here’s a simplified explanation of how they work:

  1. Electricity Source: The primary source of power for an electric vehicle is electricity. This can be obtained from various sources, such as charging stations, wall outlets, or even renewable energy systems like solar panels.
  2. Battery Pack: EVs are equipped with a large battery pack, typically located at the bottom of the vehicle to distribute weight and provide stability. This battery pack stores electrical energy in the form of chemical energy.
  3. Electric Motor: The electric motor is the heart of the EV’s propulsion system. When the driver accelerates, it draws electrical energy from the battery and converts it into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy then powers the wheels, moving the vehicle forward.
  4. Controller or Power Inverter: The controller (also known as a power inverter) is responsible for managing the flow of electricity from the battery to the electric motor. It converts the direct current (DC) from the battery into alternating current (AC) that the motor uses.
  5. Transmission (in some cases): Some EVs have a transmission, while others use a single-speed gearbox. The transmission helps control the speed and power output of the motor.
  6. Regenerative Braking: EVs often use regenerative braking to recover energy during deceleration. When the driver lifts their foot off the accelerator, the electric motor switches to generator mode, converting some of the kinetic energy back into electrical energy. This energy is then sent back to the battery for later use.
  7. Vehicle Control Systems: Various systems control the vehicle’s performance, including traction control, stability control, and electronic stability programs. These systems help optimize the driving experience and safety.
  8. Charging: When the battery’s charge level becomes low, the EV needs to be recharged. This is typically done by plugging the vehicle into a charging station. The charging station converts AC power from the grid into DC power that the battery can use.
  9. Types of Charging:
    • Level 1 Charging: Uses a standard household outlet and is the slowest method.
    • Level 2 Charging: Requires a special charging unit (usually installed at home or found at public charging stations) and charges faster than Level 1.
    • DC Fast Charging: Found at dedicated charging stations, this method provides a high-power DC charge and can quickly replenish the battery’s charge.
  10. Driving Range: The distance an electric vehicle can travel on a single charge depends on the battery’s capacity and the vehicle’s efficiency. This is referred to as the “driving range.”

Overall, electric vehicles offer a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. They produce zero tailpipe emissions and can be charged using renewable energy sources, making them an important part of efforts to reduce air pollution and combat climate change

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