How an Electric Car Battery Works

An electric car.

By converting chemical energy into electrical energy, an electric car battery works in a similar manner as a gasoline-powered car. In an electric car, rechargeable batteries supply power to a controller which in turn powers an electric motor. Pure electric cars are only as reliable as their battery, though. The most successful cars that have implemented electric technology are hybrids that rely on a combination of gasoline and electricity to power the car. This gives them a greater range and solves some of the problems posed by solely battery-powered vehicles.

How Electric Car Batteries Work

On a traditionally powered vehicle, this process is only required for starting, lighting, and igniting. In an electric car, however, the electrical energy supplied by the battery is much greater. For this reason, large batteries are used that are a grouping of dozens of individual cells. The basic process involves a DC controller transmitting power from a battery and directing it to the electric motor. This process is controlled by the accelerator, and the batteries require recharging quite frequently.

Current electric cars use lead-acid batteries because of their relatively low cost, but they present a range of problems including bulk and duration. Pure electric cars do not have the driving range of even a hybrid. In the future, it may be possible to use an NIMH car battery or a lithium-ion battery to power electric cars. For now, though, alternative lightweight NIMH batteries cost as much as 15 times more than lead-acid.