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You’ve decided to buy a Tesla and do your part to reduce your carbon footprint, but you have questions about electric vehicles. Do Teslas have alternators?

You have driven a car with an internal combustion engine for years, but now you are about to plunge into electric vehicles. How does the battery convert the power to run the car? Do these Teslas require a lot of maintenance? What if the battery fails or needs to replacing?

The last thing you want to do is get more environmentally friendly, only to have that decision cost you an arm and a leg.

Teslas do not have alternators because they are electric vehicles. Electric vehicles have a DC to DC converter that powers the drivetrain from the power stored in the battery. This is unlike an internal combustion engine that converts mechanical energy to electric current that the vehicle needs.

You have been intrigued by electric cars for years, and there is no question that every manufacturer is heading in that direction. The gasoline-powered vehicle is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Now, new technologies are revolutionizing the auto industry, and you want to be an informed owner.

To help clear up some misconceptions about the process needed to power the basic systems of the Tesla (and other electric cars), we have scoured the internet to help find the answers. If the future wave is upon us, we need to understand the mechanics behind these cars.

Table of Contents

Why Does a Telsa Engine Not Need an Alternator?

Electric vehicles, like Tesla, do not require alternators. The large lithium-ion battery, where energy is stored, is located beneath the car's floor and provides the energy needed to run things efficiently. The battery pack is a collection of individual cells placed together in a pattern, with each cell containing energy. The electrical current goes from the high voltage battery into a DC converter to change the direct current to alternating current, which powers the vehicle's systems. This AC powers a small electric motor sending current to the drivetrain. While the science is a bit more complicated, the battery is rechargeable from an external source like a charging station or during operation from internal systems like regenerative braking. The science behind the basic

The internal combustion motor produces the electrical current it needs by rotating a belt connecting the crankshaft to the alternator. The alternator spins a pair of magnets around an electrified coil, which creates the AC (alternating current). The 12V battery receives this energy and distributes the energy necessary for the rudimentary systems of your car.

What Is the History of the Tesla Electrical Motor?

Even though William Morrison, a chemist, developed the first electrified carriage in the US around 1890, it took almost a hundred years to revive interest in electric vehicles. The country faced rising gasoline prices, and manufacturers were looking for alternative fuels to power the growing demand for vehicles. With the introduction of hybrid technology from Toyota (through the Prius), there was a heightened interest in eco-friendly vehicles.

In 2006, a small California-based company announced it would start producing a luxury sports car operated solely on electric current, with a range of over 200 miles. Receiving a loan from the US Department of Energy, Tesla built its first manufacturing plant in California, and the first Tesla models started rolling off the assembly line. The vehicles were an instant hit of quality and dependability, not to mention savings to consumers' pocketbooks and the environment.

Based on the science of an AC induction motor, first developed by Nikola Tesla in 1891, the company has continued to perfect its technology and expand its lineup.

How Much Voltage Does a Tesla Battery Create?

The Tesla S and 3 models create about 375 - 350 volts (the S model is the higher). While this might seem like a lot, it’s perfectly safe. The biggest thing that large battery packs create is heat, but the Tesla batteries are sealed and bathed in coolant to keep the heat from wearing them out too quickly.

What is the Life Expectancy for a Tesla Battery?

Most Tesla battery packs should last 300,000 - 500,000 miles. According to a 2019 report by Tesla, Model X and S batteries retained 80% of their charge, even after 200,000 miles of operation.

How Long Does a Tesla Battery Charge Last?

The following table lists the ranges for each Tesla model.

What are the Advantages of an Electric Vehicle?

There are several significant advantages of driving an electric vehicle. Let’s review a few of them below.

Protect Planet Earth

According to its environmental impact report in 2020, Tesla vehicles avoided adding over 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent pollutants. When you think about the continued pressure states are feeling to clean up the air, you can see how driving an electric car today might just be riding the wave of the future.

Fuel Economy

An electric vehicle can achieve better fuel economy because it runs from electricity rather than using a carbon-based fuel like gasoline. The electric vehicle is lighter (because there is no vast internal combustion motor weighing it down), and the weight-to-power ratio means it can travel more miles. In addition, the car has internal systems like regenerative braking, which will help send power back to the large battery pack.

Because it runs on an electric current, measured in kilowatts (kWh), and the cost of kilowatts is far less expensive than gasoline, you get more bang for your buck from an electric vehicle. Estimates are that a typical Tesla model 3 gets 120 city/112 hwy using 29kWh/100 miles, which translates to paying about $1.00 per gallon (based on the price of gasoline being $4 a gallon).


Tesla vehicles have virtually no maintenance because they are electrically powered vehicles with fewer moving parts than a regular combustion engine. While that doesn’t mean that Tesla vehicles don’t break down, the frequency with which they do is far less than other vehicles on the road today. You can say goodbye to most of the routine maintenance you are used to paying money for, like oil changes. Electric vehicles just don’t have these kinds of issues.


The 0-60 mph time for a Tesla Model 3 is 3.1 seconds (that is faster than the Mustang GT). The S model is 2.28 seconds. The X Model is 2.5 seconds. The Y model is 3.5 seconds. Electric cars move faster because they have less complicated drivetrains and produce more torque than their internal combustion counterparts. So, the takeaway for the everyday driver is that if you need extra power to get around a long line of semis, the car will deliver when you hit the gas.

Do Teslas Have Alternators?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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