If you’re a fan of racing, you’ve probably heard about electric cars shattering track records all over the place. On top of that, you always hear new EV owners talking about how quick their car is. You might be curious why electric cars are so quick.
Electric cars are so quick because the electric motor can instantly deliver full power. The cars can also brake much more efficiently thanks to regenerative braking systems. On top of that, the weight balance can be optimized by strategically placing the battery packs.
In this article, I’m going to list 8 reasons why electric cars are so quick. I’ll also outline the differences between “fast” and “quick”.
Understanding Fast vs Quick
In this piece, I want to talk about quickness, not how fast the car can go.
To me, “being fast” is a matter of what speed a car can go in a straight line. This would be your top speed generally or even a 1/4-mile speed.
When I hear “quickness”, I think about how long it takes to get to the end of a lap. Quickness combines:
- Weight balance of a car
On the other hand, fastness is just about top speed. The fastest car in the world is just the one with the biggest motor and strong enough components to keep together. Throw a jet engine on the back of your reinforced Mini Cooper and you’ll have the fastest car possible.
Still, it won’t be quick.
When Does Quick Matter?
Quickness matters more in everyday life than the speed of a car. Going to work, visiting friends, and laying a hot lap on the track all require quickness.
I’m not supporting people who speed through traffic to get home quicker, I’m just pointing out some real-life examples.
For the sake of arguments, I’ll stick to the example of doing a lap at a racetrack.
So, which is more important? In a car, I’m picking quickness every day of the week.
Are EVs Quicker Than ICEs?
In almost every single case, yes. An electric vehicle is quicker than its gas-powered counterpart.
8 Reasons Why Electric Cars Are So Quick
Why is the answer so definitive? It’s all thanks to 8 different reasons. These help EVs drive much quicker than gas-powered cars on the same track.
1. Their Transmissions are Optimized
First off, an EV’s transmission is completely different than a transmission tied to an internal combustion engine.
With an electric car’s transmission, there is no gearing, gear ratios, or shift times. They are truly optimized to deliver peak power at every RPM.
They are hardly even recognizable as a transmission. They have a single “gear” that adjusts the ratio depending on how fast you’re going, how hard you hit the pedal, and what transmission mode the car is in.
The transmission delivers the power from the engine to the wheels. If you disconnect your transmission, the engine or motor will work hard, and you’ll sit still. When you’re in park or neutral, the transmission is basically disconnected.
2. Instant Power Delivery
The basic difference between a motor and an engine is how quickly they can deliver power. When you look at a power over time chart of an ICE, you’ll notice a large ramp-up time.
This is how long it takes the engine to get to peak power. As the valves churn faster, the engine starts to optimize.
The same chart for an electric motor tells a different story. In a split second, the motor can achieve maximum power. There is very little ramp-up time, and this results in nearly instant power delivery.
Since quickness is all about speeding up and slowing down repeatedly, the ability to deliver power without waiting for a ramp-up is a huge benefit.
3. Higher Torque at Low RPMs
Along the same vein, you’ll also notice higher torque at lower RPMs. When cars give their stats, they’ll typically provide a rated horsepower at a certain RPM.
Since ICEs max out at later RPMs, all of the provided horsepower and torque values are at the higher RPMs. It means that when you floor it at 3,000 RPM, you aren’t achieving the power that the car has at 7,000 RPM.
4. Better Throttle Control
When you push down your gas pedal, your motor or engine will start delivering power.
Throttle control is the idea of controlling this power by pushing it a certain amount. With an EV, the amount that you push it down is exactly equivalent to the amount of power that your car sees (unless there are electronic limiters).
For instance, when you push down the pedal 50%, then the electric motor will provide 50% of its power.
With an ICE, there’s no telling exactly how much power you’ll get when you push the pedal down 50%. With a turbocharger, you could get 100% power delivery. With a less efficient engine, you might only get 30% power delivery.
This makes controlling your throttle impossibly easy with an electric car. This will help any driver achieve a quicker lap.
5. Better Brakes
Most electric cars have built-in “regenerative brakes”. This is a system that automatically slows down your car when you lift your foot from the gas pedal.
Your car will slow down without you using your brakes at all.
As a result, cars can have smaller, more efficient, lighter brake assemblies. It also means that slowing down and stopping takes less power from your car.
As you know, a car can only go as fast as it can decelerate. If you max out your brakes, you’ll have a much quicker lap than taking the same car and maxing out the acceleration while leaving junky brakes in.
6. Battery Placement Can Perfect Weight Distribution
I mentioned in another article that electric cars are heavier than gas-powered cars, and a large factor is the weight of the battery packs.
A battery pack can weigh hundreds or even thousands of pounds. This amount of weight can dramatically change the weight distribution of a car.
For reference, weight distribution is how the weight is placed across the framework of a car. Putting all the weight in the front of a vehicle will cause the car to lean forwards while driving, making it difficult to brake hard efficiently.
Car designers do their best to lay out their vehicles in order to optimize the weight distribution.
With an ICE, the designer’s hands are pretty tied when it comes to laying things out. There are only so many places where an engine and transmission can fit.
With a battery pack, it’s a different story. The designer can use a thousand pounds to their advantage to perfect the weight distribution.
This helps with acceleration, cornering, and even top speed.
7. Lower Center of Gravity
Having a lower center of gravity is the name of the game for cars that want to set records on the track.
This point goes back to the EV designer’s ability to put the battery pack wherever they want. They can put all the heavy parts as low down as possible, dramatically lowering the center of gravity of the car.
With an internal combustion engine, the components are always higher off the ground which raises this center of gravity.
8. No Gear Shifts
Since the transmission is dramatically simpler with an EV, you don’t have to worry about gear shifts.
In an ICE, shifting gears could add seconds to your lap. For one, you have to think about which gear is perfect for different turns. In addition, physically shifting the gears takes a certain amount of time that will compound over a lap.
An EV’s Quickness Will Diminish Over Time
While an EV might be impossibly quick in the beginning, its quickness will diminish over time.
As the battery level goes down, so does the car’s performance. A 0-60 time at 100% battery is going to be completely different than the same 0-60 test at 20% battery. Typically, it’s a few seconds slower as the battery level goes down.
This also applies to the quickness of an older car. As you put more miles on a gas-powered car, nothing really changes. Electric cars with higher mileage suffer a hit to their performance.
It’s not big enough to dissuade people from buying used EVs, but it’s certainly noticeable if you do a lap in a 2021 model then a 2010 model right after.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into making electric cars so fast. At its core, the technology is built to create insanely quick vehicles that can shatter lap records. For more car tips, read the rest of my blog. I also put together a list of car products that I personally think are great.