Do Electric Cars Have Gears?
One of the many benefits of an electric car is they’re easier to drive. This is in part down to the gearbox. Do electric cars have gears?
No. Unlike a traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle, electric cars have a single-gear system.
Meaning they always have an automatic transmission, so you don’t have to worry about any gear changes.
So, do EVs have gears?
Unlike a standard automatic car with gear ratios, an electric vehicle runs on one gear. Of course, there are some exceptions with two gears on some performance-driven cars. But, overall, the single gearing is used because the electric motor provides all the torque and power needed in one rpm. Onboard software also controls the responsiveness of the motor.
With only one gear, this makes the driving experience seamless and efficient. Plus, there’s greater responsiveness and instant power for an exciting ride.
Electric car torque and power
Without the traditional transmission, electric powertrains have instant torque, which means maximum power from the get-go.
The term torque is a unit of measurement and is sometimes referred to as pulling power. It describes the car’s acceleration, so the higher the number, the more punchy power you have as soon as you put your foot down.
Are there any EVs with more than one gear?
Most EVs have one gear, but a few exceptions have two. The reason for having two gears is due to the improved efficiency when driving at higher speeds.
For high-performance EV drivers are likely to hit these speed bands more often than everyday models. So, manufacturers feel it’s worth having the additional gear to make the experience more exhilarating.
Cars that have electric motors over both axles can also mimic two-gear ratios. These can be set up to improve performance by using one for slower speeds and the other for higher.
Are all electric cars automatic?
All electric cars are automatic. In addition, plug-in hybrids also use automatic transmissions. In short, the design of these vehicles means they don’t require gears, as the single-gear transmission is simple and efficient.
Simulated manual gearbox
While there are no manual electric cars on the market, Toyota has designed a ‘simulated manual gearbox’ for EVs. There’ll be a clutch pedal and gear stick just like a manual car, but it’s not actually connected to the drivetrain.
Instead, onboard software controls the power and ratio from the driver’s gear change. Toyota feels this would give die-hard manual fans the best of both worlds as manual vehicles slowly become a thing of the past with the government's 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel only cars.
Do hybrid cars have gears?
Hybrid cars use an automatic transmission similar to a conventional automatic gearbox. This provides multiple ratios while the engine is running. But are there any differences in hybrid vehicle type?
Plug-in hybrid transmissions
Plug-in hybrid cars come with automatic transmissions. This not only switches seamlessly between gears when driving with the combustion engine, but it also shifts between all-electric, engine-only and hybrid driving modes.
Full hybrid transmissions
Full hybrid cars have both combustion engine and electric motor, so they use an automatic transmission just like a standard auto car. However, this also switches between all-electric and fuel power.
Benefits of driving an electric automatic
There are several benefits of driving an automatic electric car including:
Electric cars have instant torque. So, as soon as you put your foot on the accelerator, you have punchy power for effortless acceleration. This means you'll beat most traditional ICE cars off the mark.
As there is no clutch and associated components, you don’t need to worry about repairs or maintenance in this area. Less mechanial parts means fewer things can go wrong. In addition, this saves you money on regular maintenance and servicing costs.
In a conventional car, kinetic energy is lost during braking and coasting. However, an electric car has a regenerative braking system that captures and recoups this. As a result, it enhances range whilst you're driving. Making the most of this automatic system gets you further for less.