You know how an electric motor operates if you’re an electrical engineer. It can be incredibly frustrating if you are not, so here’s a simplified description of how a four-pole, three-phase AC induction motor works in a vehicle.

How Does an Electric Motor Work

It begins with the battery that is attached to the motor in the vehicle. Electrical energy is supplied from the car’s battery to the stator. On opposite sides of the stator center, the coils inside the stator are arranged and behave in some way as magnets. Therefore, as the electrical energy is transmitted to the engine from the car battery, the coils generate spinning magnetic fields that drag the conducting rods behind them on the outside of the rotor. The spinning rotor is what generates the mechanical energy need to turn the gears of the vehicle, which, in turn, rotate the tires.

Now, there is both an engine and an alternator in a standard car that isn’t electric. The battery drives the motor, which powers the wheels and gears. What then drives the alternator in the car is the rotation of the wheels, and the alternator recharges the battery. This is why, after jumping, you are advised to drive your car around for a period of time – the battery needs to be recharged to function properly.

There is no alternator in an electric vehicle. So, how does it recharge the battery then? Although there is no independent alternator, the engine in an electric car serves as both the motor and an alternator. That is one of the reasons why electric vehicles are so distinctive. The battery starts the engine, which provides energy to the gears that rotate the tires, as referenced above. When the foot is on the accelerator, this mechanism occurs – the rotor is dragged along by the spinning magnetic field, requiring more torque.

Imagine pedaling a bike up a hill to further simplify this method. You need to pedal faster to get to the top of the hill and might even have to stand up and use more energy to rotate the tires and hit the summit of the hill. This is equivalent to pushing down on the flame. The spinning magnetic field pulling the rotor behind it produces the requisite resistance for the tires and car to shift. You should take it easy and recharge while at the top of the hill, as the wheels travel even faster to take you down the hill. This occurs in the car as you release the gas from your foot and the rotor travels faster and returns electrical energy to the power line to recharge the battery.

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