Exploring Tesla’s Unique Electric Vehicle Drivetrain

How is Tesla’s drivetrain different when compared to other electric vehicles? Even though electric vehicles account for a mere 2% of car sales worldwide, there is stiff competition between vehicle manufacturers to produce the best electric car. Below, we will discuss some key factors that have given Tesla an advantage over its electric vehicle counterparts.

Tesla Drivetrain Advantages Explained

Beyond the confines of a traditional auto manufacturer, Tesla has pushed the limits when it comes to almost everything that goes into its vehicles. Tesla released its first electric roadster in 2008 while most manufacturers experimented with hybrids. The Roadster was the only electric car to meet consumer needs, but it also was the first to incorporate a cost-effective motor and powerful battery that could run almost 250 miles on a single charge while still maintaining top speeds and acceleration comparable to traditional sports cars.

This model quickly put Tesla ahead of the competition, but what other factors set the company apart in the world of electric vehicles, especially as more and more auto manufacturers joined the race?

Electric Vehicle Batteries

Battery range is among the most important factors for buyers considering an electric car. This is also likely one of the reasons why Tesla accounted for 60 percent of electric car sales in the first 3 quarters of 2019. Although there have been a few reports of battery fires, Tesla has repeatedly pushed past barriers that traditional automakers face by exploring new materials and denser batteries to compensate for initial issues. For example, unlike other electric vehicles that use larger batteries, Tesla’s Model S utilizes 7,000 small, cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, arranged into 16 cells. Between the cells, glycol-coolant-filled metal tubes keep the batteries cool and extend their life. This usage of smaller individual cells instead of larger singular ones means effective cooling is guaranteed. This method minimizes thermal hotspots and creates effective temperature distribution throughout.

The heavy battery cells are used as an advantage in the Tesla Model S by being stored at the bottom of the chassis to lower the center of gravity of each car to improve handling and protect the car during impacts. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also put significant investments into the research and development of batteries with higher densities and lower costs. As most electric vehicle manufacturers rely on LG-chem to source batteries, Tesla doesn’t hesitate to find sources that utilize innovative and economical technologies. 

Electric Motor Speed

Electric motors don’t rely on the complicated structure that an internal combustion engine (ICE) relies on. An ICE requires:

  •  A crankshaft with counterweights forces the motion of the pistons into a rotational motion
  • A flywheel to smooth the power output
  • A direct-current motor for starting
  • An alternator to keep the battery charged
  • An internal cooling system

In contrast, an induction motor, used in electric vehicles, relies on two main parts, a rotor and a stator, which produce rotational motion directly and is much smaller and lighter than a traditional motor. Here are some key differences in the output:

  • Tesla’s induction motor outputs 270 kilowatts of power, and an ICE produces 140 kilowatts
  • Tesla’s motor weighs 31.8 kg, and an ICE motor weighs 180 kg
  • An internal combustion engine produces torque within a range of 2,000-4,000 RPM, whereas an induction motor can go from 0-18,000 RPM
  • Most EVs also use a single-speed transmission, eliminating interruptions during gear-shifting and aids in performance. 
  • An inverter is necessary for electric vehicles to convert DC from the battery cells into 3-phase AC that can be used by the motor. This also controls motor speed. 

Regenerative Braking

Each time you step on a vehicle’s brakes, the kinetic energy used to propel your car forward eventually turns to heat and dissipates, thereby becoming wasted energy. Electric vehicles and some hybrids, instead, recapture this wasted energy and convert it into electrical energy that can charge the car’s batteries. Different EV brands use a variety of regenerative braking methods such as one-pedal driving which allows the driver to remove their foot from the accelerator and come to a complete stop without needing to use the brake pedal. Some EV brands such as Audi and Hyundai, use regenerative braking with a conventional feel for drivers. Tesla EVs offer both options and can switch between low mode which acts like traditional braking, or the normal setting which gives the option of using one pedal only. 

EV Charging and Performance

Compared to EV models from Chevy, Jaguar, and Nissan, which can go an average of 240 miles on a single charge, Tesla’s long-range Model S boasts 370 miles between charges. This is due to upgrades to Tesla’s drivetrain, extending its range and performance capabilities. Here are more upgrades listed by Tesla, for the Model S and Model X EVs:

  • A more efficient design including an upgraded motor, lubrication, cooling, and gear designs help these cars achieve 93% efficiency
  • Charging capabilities have improved drastically using Tesla’s new V3 and V2 Superchargers which can achieve 200 kW and charge 50% faster. 
  • An adaptive air suspension system gives a smoother, cushioned feel while driving. The system adapts to road conditions, driver behaviour, and constantly updates with the latest suspension technology.

Tesla drivers don’t need to choose between range and performance. With recent upgrades to powertrain and design and constant software updates, drivers can rely on Tesla EVs to deliver a superior driving experience with the comfort of traditional features. 

Overall, Tesla has been ahead of the curve from the start in electric vehicle technology and continues to deliver innovative new solutions. As far as battery range, drivetrain, and performance, each new vehicle released by Tesla outperforms its previous version and surpasses the competition. 

Innovative Automation’s Electric Vehicle Automation Manufacturing

Innovation Automation, located in Barrie, Ontario is a leading provider of automation systems to global manufacturers. IAI provides cutting-edge solutions with diverse applications to several industries including automotive, consumer goods, and medical device manufacturing. 

Contact us today to learn more about how our expertise in automated systems design can help your business increase efficiency, safety, and quality.

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