Most electric cars don’t have gears. Electric cars don’t need a gear setup because their motors run efficiently in a wide power band. In other words, electric vehicles don’t need to cycle through gears to attain top speed. They achieve peak torque from zero revolutions per minute which gives the driver brisk and instant acceleration without clutching because they don’t stall.
Internal combustion engines are the most efficient and can only deliver adequate torque within a narrow rev window.
Therefore, they need a system of gears that can match the engine speed to that of the wheels to get the efficiency balance.
The electric cars’ motors spin up to 20,000 RPM on most road wheels. Most electric cars use a single differential and reduction gear to control the relationship between wheels and electric motors. Most of these cars have a single gear that is not manual or technically automatic.
Can electric cars have gears?
Yes. Electric cars can have more than a single-ratio gearing. Back in 2007, Tesla tried using a two-speed manual gearbox in the first Roadster model. Most of the pre-production prototypes did use a system without the clutch pedal.
They had a manual shifter that allowed drivers to choose first, second and reverse gears. It meant that the Roadster model could accelerate from 0-60mph in 4 seconds.
However, this technology was not well-advanced back in 2007 to enable Tesla to offer this transmission factoring in the reliability necessary for producing the car and the idea was canceled.
The single-ratio gearing for the Tesla’s Roadster model was to be temporary as they perfected it even as the single-speed remained. Besides, this car had a slower 0-60mph than initially expected.
On the other hand, Renault used a two-speed manual gearbox in the Formula E cars but later dropped it for a single-ratio set-up.
Recently, Porsche managed to fit a two-speed automatic gearbox to the Taycan model. The Porsche’s transmission gives drivers maximum acceleration in the first gear and remains in that gear for a considerable time before shifting to the second gear when cruising at high speed.
In everyday driving, the second gear is only used because of is highly efficient. Also, transmission manufacturer ZF developed its two-speed electric gearbox and modular construction for future use by different manufacturers.
However, the British electric vehicle converter Electrogenic favors the combination of connecting the electric motor to the clutch and allowing electric cars to retain their original manual gearboxes.
In this case, drivers can use any of the gears and then shift down or up using their clutch. The clutch is not necessary when coming to halt or pulling away from rest.
Electrogenic has a number of conversions that retain the manual transmission in places such as Porsche 356 and Triumph Stag. Also, it has converted Land Rovers and connected their electric motor to the clutch to allow them to retain all gears including low and high ratios necessary for off-roading.
Clutches and old-fashioned manual shifting will remain an interest and it’s expected that future electric cars will feature efficient, smooth single-ratio setups and perhaps two-speed transmission, higher-specification models like those developed by ZF and Porsche.
Do electric cars have transmissions?
Electric cars lack the conventional multispeed transmissions like those in gas-powered vehicles.
Almost all EVs have single-speed because their electric motors give their full power the moment they start turning and keep producing full power over a wide range of revolutions.
Note that peak performance can’t sustain because most electric vehicles achieve revolutions as high as 20,000rpm. However, gas engines only top 6,000-7,000rpm which requires rev up to achieve maximum power.
Besides, their efficiency is dependent on the load it carries within a tight rev range.
Consequently, a multispeed transmission of value in gas engine vehicles is not worth the increase in cost, weight and complexity in electric vehicles.
Even electric vehicles with new speeds need gears to change the motor’s drive-gear ratio plus the transfer of power to another differential.
Usually, it splits the power in the wheels. EV has a device that locks the EV gears the moment you engage park. Choosing reverse makes the motor spin in the other direction which means it doesn’t need separate gears for this purpose.
Are all electric vehicles automatic?
It’s well-known that electric cars lack the same power band limitations seen in ICEs which means they don’t need more gears. This means that there is a remote chance that we’ll see a manual gear shifter in electric vehicles.
However, EV manufacturers know that H-shifters make driving fun and have in the past tried to install manual gearboxes. Perhaps, it may yet come to be but it will take years.
Is there a benefit for electric cars to having gears?
Yes. It’s mainly why EV manufacturers are trying to come up with efficient gears to fulfill the need for better transmission and driving fun. Porsche Taycan was the first electric vehicle to have a two-speed transmission.
Consequently, Formula E cars for several years have been experimenting with various gear setups. A multispeed transmission electric vehicle has the same benefits you get in an ICE car.
Therefore, you can maximize your car’s acceleration while increasing its efficiency at high speeds simply by letting the motor spin in a higher gear at a lower speed. It’s something that can improve the range for motorway drivers.
ZF is currently working on a version of two-speed transmission which will improve electric range.
Do single-speed electric vehicles have a downside?
The only major thing drivers miss is the roaring sound of the engine as they rev through different gears. However, some EV manufacturers are working on soundtracks for EV driving which will hit the market soon.
Also, traveling long distances at higher speeds on the motorway can take a hit.
Electric vehicles are spearheading the revolution in the automotive industry through lower emissions, accessibility, quicker acceleration and ease of use. The fact that most EVs are single-speed has little impact as it makes them cheaper and that few things can go wrong even in the long-term.
Nevertheless, manufacturers are expected to adopt two-gear ratios to achieve more efficient high-speed electric car driving.