Home Technology “Are electric vehicle transmissions necessary?” or “Do electric cars have gears?”

“Are electric vehicle transmissions necessary?” or “Do electric cars have gears?”


After decades of driving conventional vehicles, one gets used to the idea of shifting gears, multispeed transmissions an absolute necessity in combination with an internal combustion engine. In an electric vehicle, perhaps one comes to the conclusion that a multispeed transmission would be a given, but practically none of them do. Are electric vehicle transmissions necessary to improve performance?

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Most of the Electric cars have single gear ratio.

You probably understand the basic reasons for this, but the math is still super fascinating.

An electric motor delivers its maximum torque at zero RPM. Unlike an internal combustion engine, it doesn’t need a system to disconnect it from the drivetrain to allow it to idle while the vehicle is stopped. But there’s a more in-depth explanation to be had here, and it’s fascinating.

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Electric motors have a much larger RPM range than the typical internal combustion engine. And unlike a gas or diesel engine, an electric motor makes its best power output over an incredibly broad RPM range. So instead of packing the car with numerous gears to keep the engine in its happy zone, designers of electric cars just pick a gear ratio that provides a good compromise between acceleration and top speed. And with the typical electric motor capable of sustaining 20,000 RPM, the top speed often isn’t even a limiting factor.

Image Source: Google Image

Where do we see multispeed electric vehicle transmissions? Not in production vehicles, but in conversion vehicles. The easiest way to convert a conventional vehicle to electric is simply to swap out the ICE with an AC or DC MG and throw some batteries in the trunk. Granted, that’s an oversimplification, but why replace the whole drivetrain, multispeed transmission included, if you only want to achieve a relatively convenient electric vehicle powertrain?

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