Tesla has been at the forefront of electric vehicles since its inception in 2003. But how do the cars even run? Do Teslas have engines?
Tesla vehicles do not have engines. Instead, they run on electric motors that have rechargeable batteries in them. In rear-wheel drive (RWD) Teslas, the motor is placed right over the rear axle. In all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles, the front motor is placed between the front two wheels.
The way that electric cars work is a mystery to many people. If you’ve ever seen the hood popped on a Tesla, there’s likely one big question on your mind — where is the engine at? In this article, we’ll take a look at Tesla cars and examine whether or not they even have engines or transmissions, if they’re designated as hybrid vehicles, and more.
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Where Are The Engines Located In Teslas?
The vast majority of us are accustomed to the cars that we grew up with. Combustion engines that need fuel to run and make all sorts of noises, right? Cars that when you pop the hood, it’s clear as day where the engine is. But with the urge to move away from fossil fuels in recent decades, electric cars have become more and more mainstream. And no other vehicle manufacturer can hold a candle to Tesla just yet.
Owned by Elon Musk, Tesla has been at the forefront of electric vehicle production since its inception. And although the major players in the automaking game (i.e. Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, etc.) are starting to offer more and more electric vehicles, it seems that Tesla still holds the crown as the top electric vehicle maker on the planet.
But that doesn’t mean that many people really know how they work. Do Teslas even have engines?
The short answer is actually no, Tesla vehicles do not have engines. Instead, Teslas are powered by electric motors that have rechargeable batteries in them. These motors basically power one axle each. So for RWD cars, the motor is located above the rear axle. For FWD vehicles, it’s located between the two front wheels. And for AWD Teslas, both of these motors are installed.
Do Teslas Have Transmissions?
Electric motors can instantly take input from the driver and start spinning and provide nearly instant torque straight to the wheels. This is because the electric motors don’t have to wait for any sort of combustion process which then turns the motor, which turns the transmission, then the driveshaft, and finally the wheels. Instead, Teslas have a sort of single-speed transmission that takes torque from the electric motor and immediately applies it to the wheels.
Having electric motors instead of gasoline-powered engines makes Teslas able to accelerate far quicker than most standard cars. The top-end speed of most Tesla models might not be as high as gas-powered vehicles, but they’ll get you there much faster thanks to the instant torque provided by the electric motor(s) and simple transmissions.
Are Teslas Hybrids?
A misconception that some people seem to have about Teslas is that they are hybrid vehicles, like a Toyota Prius, for example. Hybrid vehicles use a combination of electric power and also gas or diesel power. So these types of vehicles, again like a Prius, do have engines. That’s because the majority of the time, the car is actually using the fuel-powered engine to deliver the power and drive the car.
But hybrids also have electric motor(s) built-in that can operate the vehicle under certain conditions. This enables the car to use less fuel than a standard combustion engine since the engine isn’t needed at all times. Of note, some hybrids don’t need to be plugged in and recharged like a Tesla does. The batteries recharge through regenerative braking, enabling these cars to switch between using fuel and using battery power automatically.
Keep in mind, however, that Teslas also do employ regenerative braking to help extend battery help and increase the range that you can drive them. But Teslas are powered and driven solely by this battery power, since there are no engines anywhere in the car! So let’s take a quick look at the battery life of Teslas and how they work.
How Far Can You Drive A Tesla Before Needing To Charge It?
The distance that you can reliably drive a Tesla will largely depend on the model Tesla you have, the battery that it has under the hood, and what your driving habits are. That said, Tesla builds the current models with the goal of enabling you to drive at least 300 miles on a single charge. Again, this is not true of all Tesla models and battery configurations, but it’s the best estimate available to cover as many Teslas as possible.
What this means for you as a consumer is that you either need to just not drive your Tesla long distances, or you have to plan out your drives and road trips around where charging stations are located. Luckily Tesla offers its very own Go Anywhere tool that enables drivers to plan a drive around the Supercharge stations. These Supercharge stations boast the ability to provide 200 miles worth of battery life in just 15 minutes, so it’s not too much worse than getting gas!
That said, the majority of Tesla drivers just let their cars charge overnight at home or take it to the local charging station whenever they need to recharge the batteries. Many hotels these days also have spots reserved for electric vehicles with charging stations which makes travel a bit easier. So get out there and explore the world in your Tesla today. Just make sure you account for recharging!
About THE AUTHOR
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.Read More About Charles Redding