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Tesla Motors – how it works

In cleantech, Technology on July 28, 2009 at 11:08 am

How It Works

When you build a car that’s electric, you start with one built-in advantage: Electric cars just don’t have to be as complex mechanically as the car you’re probably driving now. Sophisticated electronics and software take the place of the pounds and pounds of machinery required to introduce a spark and ignite the fuel that powers an internal combustion engine.

For example, the typical four-cylinder engine of a conventional car comprises over a hundred moving parts. By comparison, the motor of the Tesla Roadster has just one: the rotor. So there’s less weight to drive around and fewer parts that could break or wear down over time.

The Tesla Roadster’s elegantly designed powertrain consists of just the four main components discussed below. Mind you, these aren’t “off-the-shelf” components, and each includes innovations, both small and large. But when you build a car from the ground up, you have the luxury of questioning every assumption — and to distill as you reinvent.

The Battery

When we set out to build a high-performance electric car, the biggest challenge was obvious from the start: the battery. Its complexities are clear: it’s heavy, expensive, and offers limited power and range. Yet it has one quality that eclipses these disadvantages and motivated us to keep working tirelessly: it’s clean.