What is a Powertrain?
A powertrain is a group of components that provide power to the electric vehicle to then set it into motion. Its purpose is to transform kinetic energy stored in the electric vehicle’s battery system and supply it to the motors. In an electric vehicle, a powertrain consists of the motor and its internal components.
Why does an electric car need a Powertrain?
All road vehicles require a powertrain for it to move. In an electric vehicle, a powertrain is what powers the vehicle and therefore eliminates the need for an internal combustion engine (ICE).
How does a Powertrain work?
The vehicle’s powertrain converts electrical energy (from the engine) into mechanical energy which then turns the motor. In 2021, almost 80 million motor vehicles were produced worldwide, therefore, the powertrain must be energy-efficient and able to operate safely. A powertrain also has many other functions, for example, a fault in the powertrain can cause the vehicle’s power components to overheat, making it an essential part of any electric vehicle.
EVs have 90% fewer moving parts than an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car (2). The key components of an electric powertrain include:
Battery Pack: Electric vehicles mainly have lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries due to high energy density.
DC-AC Converter: This converts power from AC to DC and then feeds it into the car’s battery.
Inverter: Converts DC back to AC to power electric motor.
Electric Motor: Using power from the battery pack, this motor drives the vehicle’s wheels by converting electrical energy to mechanical energy.
On-board Charger: Takes AC current from the charge port and convert it to DC power to recharge the vehicle’s battery.
The three types of electric vehicle powertrains include:
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), and Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).