We’ve all been there, sitting at the traffic lights, catch the eye of the car next to you: suddenly it’s an impromptu drag race. You may be forgiven for thinking that the person in the petrol or diesel vehicle will have the upper hand. You would be wrong.
First, in general racing terminology, “quick” means how long it takes to get from point A to point B, while “fast” means the top speed a vehicle reaches. Electric cars are capable of being quicker than petrol-powered cars, but EVs aren’t yet capable of going faster. Traditional fuelled vehicles do have a performance advantage when those top speeds are being sustained for longer periods of time. However, in a straight 0-to-60 drag race, EVs have the upper hand.
A traditional engine must route the power first to the transmission and then to the wheels, known as the “drivetrain”. This process takes longer, wasting crucial 0-to-60 potential. Some of the power created by the engine — usually about 15 percent — is also wasted traveling through the drivetrain, known as drivetrain loss. In contrast, electric vehicles generate much more torque than gas vehicles, which is important because torque is what drives the vehicle forward. Furthermore, an electric car’s motor eliminates the need for a traditional transmission in many modern designs. The power goes straight to the wheels for instant acceleration, making EVs quicker on the start.
When Motor Trend road-tested the Tesla Model S P100D in 2017, the magazine had never seen a zero to 60 run in less than 2.3 seconds. But the Tesla came in at 2.275 seconds, which at the time made it the quickest stock production vehicle ever. Moreover, the Tesla Model S is not the only high-performing EV. The Tesla Model 3 and Model X, Porsche Taycan and Jaguar I-Pace all reach 60 mph in 4 seconds or less.
The moral of the story is that, next time you are having a traffic light drag race, you might want to make sure you’re in an EV.
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