Do Electric Cars Run On AC or DC?

Do Electric Cars Run On AC or DC?

Electric vehicles use batteries instead of an internal combustion engine.

Firstly, electric cars can either run on AC or DC motors. However, a typical electric vehicle is complex machinery in which both AC and DC equipment can be found.

For example, Tesla Roadster uses an AC motor but batteries are in DC.

In this article, we will try to answer whether electric cars run on AC or DC or both?

If the motor is DC, then it can run on anything from 96 to 192 volts. Many DC motors that are used in electric vehicles come from electric forklift industry. If the motor is AC, then it is a three-phase motor running at 240 volts AC with a 300-volt battery pack. 

DC Motors

DC motors are cheap to build, so it is the preferred choice of the manufacturers. More importantly, the components are readily available. For example, a large generator from a jet engine is ready to be used as a motor. DC motors use battery power directly, so the control circuit is much simpler than AC. When we look at the operating point, the DC motor generates more starting power.

So, a DC electric car might not have transmission. So, it means it reduces the more cost. A brushless DC motor generates less heat than AC, so it means less energy is wasted. 

A typical DC motor will be in the range of 20,000 to 30,000 watts. You can overdrive them for a short period of time. For example, a 20,000-watt motor will accept 100,000 watts for a short period of time and delivers 5 times its rated horsepower. So, when a short burst of acceleration is required, it is a great choice. The only disadvantage is the heat build-up in the motor. When you drive too much motor gets heat up, and it reaches to the point where it self-destructs. 

AC Motors

AC motors are complicated because it needs an inverter to convert DC power of batteries into AC. It involves the speed control circuit. It is expensive because the necessary infrastructure hasn’t been developed to drive prices down. But it is beneficial to use AC motors in electric cars. When the motor size becomes large, the performance becomes an important consideration, and AC motor can really show off. No doubt, the circuitry is complex, but it is safer and simpler to install. The disadvantage of the DC system is that it can short circuit the entire battery pack, so the chances are for the motor to catch fire. In the case of the AC system, a blown AC inverter fails, and the car stops. 

Do electric cars run on AC or DC or Both?

Electric cars can run on both AC and DC. It is generally a 3-step process. 

  • During charging, AC is converted to DC because DC can be easily stored in the battery. 
  • Storing in the battery in the form of DC.
  • While driving or acceleration, DC is again converted to AC to run the motor, depending on the rpm. 

Mostly AC is used because of varying frequency and more efficiency. AC is expensive than DC, but it is still popular, because it is ideal for high-performance cars. Electric vehicles that have adaptable motors can last longer. 


Do electric cars run on AC or DC? A simple answer to this question is electric cars run on both AC and DC. Both offer different advantages. The only thing that separates these motors is voltage usage. 

Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Author: Sky Hoon
He loved the future of self driving car and cannot wait for one. In the meantime, he loved to read up all about car and components like a computer.
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