Electric cars

Instant torque helps electric cars accelerate faster than gas-powered compatriots

An emerging theme with modern electric vehicles is that they are incredibly fast, especially in drag racing, because they use instantaneous torque to achieve rapid acceleration. Often, their gas-powered counterparts feel sluggish by comparison. In fact, several electric cars can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.6 seconds or less, such as the Porsche Taycan Turbo S and the Lucid Air Dream Edition.

Conversely, most gas-powered cars generally feel slower because they don’t have instant torque, and that difference can prove decisive in a ¼ mile race. Below is an explanation of Instant Torque and why it is beneficial.

The relationship between torque and acceleration

Volkswagen ID.R Electric Race Car | volkswagen

If you’re not familiar with torque, Toyota describes it as torque. For example, if you open a bottle by twisting the cap, you are applying torque, and this plays an important role in how car engines work. Typically, torque is generated in the engine or motor and then transferred to the wheels to turn them.

Since it directly affects the power reaching the wheels, torque is critical when accelerating your car. Therefore, the fastest-accelerating cars tend to have the most torque, which applies to both electric cars and their gas-powered compatriots. It is also needed to help cars handle tough jobs such as towing trailers or climbing.

Instant torque: what it is and how it is obtained in electric vehicles

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With electric vehicles, the maximum torque is generated in the engine and transmitted to the wheels almost instantaneously once you step on the accelerator. Conversely, gasoline-powered cars can take a while to reach maximum torque. This is the main difference between the instantaneous torque of electric cars and the steady torque of gasoline vehicles.

As for how instantaneous torque is achieved in electric vehicles, Car Throttle attributes it to a lack of back EMF. Electric vehicles work by using batteries to power a motor, which helps create torque. This torque is then transmitted to the wheels. Therefore, if you push more power to the engine by stepping on the throttle, you should be creating more torque. However, electric motors also generate a back EMF as they rotate rapidly, which reduces the effective voltage delivered.

Simply put, if the total power is 150 volts and there is a back emf, say to the tune of 50 volts, the effective voltage is reduced to 100 volts. Therefore, only part of the available power is used to create torque and reaches the wheels.

As mentioned above, spinning the motor faster creates more back EMF. This further reduces the available power that can be used to produce torque. However, full power is available to create maximum torque when the engine is not running, such as when the car is stationary.

Why Instant Torque Isn’t Available In Gasoline Cars

When it comes to torque, internal combustion engines usually have one major problem: maximum torque can only be achieved at a certain level of engine performance. This is often between 2,000 and 7,000 revolutions per minute. For example, the 2022 version of the Toyota Corolla Cross XLE 4WD reaches its maximum torque of 151 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm.

In particular, if the car is not moving, performance and engine speed drop considerably between 600 and 1000 rpm. Car and Driver note that there is often some lag before bringing the vehicle back to the optimum rev range. It also results in lag before you can get maximum torque.

The effect of instantaneous torque on fuel economy

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In electric vehicles, instantaneous torque offers an additional benefit in terms of fuel consumption, because the maximum power is available from the start without the need to increase it. Conversely, gasoline-powered cars achieve their greatest fuel efficiency in the higher gears, with the lower gears consuming the most fuel.

Also, you can’t skip the lower gears in a gas-powered car. Instead, you need to increase engine rpm and performance before shifting gears one at a time. Of course, if the vehicle has more gears, it will take longer and use more fuel.

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