To begin, in general racing terminology, "rapid" refers to the time it takes to travel from point A to point B, and "fast" refers to the maximum speed a vehicle can achieve. In drag racing, for example, the "faster" vehicle hits the higher speed during the course of the race, yet the quicker vehicle gets to the finish line first. Electric automobiles are faster than gas-powered cars, but they are not yet capable of traveling faster. Our zero to sixty scenario is a good example. When maximum speeds are maintained for longer periods of time, gasoline cars have a performance edge.
Former Tesla engineer Dustin Grace provided a good description in a 2015 Fortune piece. Electric vehicles produce significantly more torque than gas vehicles, which is significant because torque is what propels the vehicle forward. Furthermore, in many modern designs, the motor of an electric car eliminates the requirement for a traditional transmission. The power is delivered directly to the wheels for immediate acceleration, making EVs faster off the line. In a gas-powered car, the engine has to channel the power first to the transmission and then to the wheels. This approach takes longer and wastes valuable zero to sixty potential. Some of the engine's power — typically approximately 15% — is also lost while passing through the drivetrain, which is referred to as drivetrain loss.
Horsepower Means Efficiency
When comparing an electric automobile to a gas car with the same horsepower rating, the electric car may utilize much more of its horsepower. Because EVs have fewer moving parts, they can operate more efficiently. This also makes electric automobiles cheaper to run over time by cutting engine maintenance costs. The quick torque and streamlined drivetrain enable an electric vehicle to accelerate from a stop significantly faster than a gas vehicle with comparable power specs. That is how Tesla and other electric supercars reach zero to sixty times in two or three seconds.
Tesla does not release horsepower ratings, but Road and Track tested a top-end 2017 Model S P100D with the Ludicrous Speed upgrade on a dynamometer. They received a reading of 588 horsepower at the wheels. When Motor Trend tested the Tesla Model S P100D in 2017, the magazine had never seen a 0-60 time of less than 2.3 seconds. However, the Tesla took 2.275 seconds, making it the fastest stock production vehicle ever. However, if that Tesla were racing against a Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918, or McLaren P1, those three gas-powered supercars would catch up to the Tesla and pull ahead within seconds, according to Frank Markus of Motor Trend. If Ferrari or McLaren are out of your price range, the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, with its 840-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, has a top speed of 203 mph and a zero to 60 time of 3.4 seconds.
Electric vehicles now have a significant edge in terms of zero to sixty times. However, the EV sector is learning that their cars need to keep that performance over the long haul, which gets us back to the transmission. For all of the enthusiasm surrounding EV's performance and efficiency thanks to the absence of a traditional transmission, some engineers are actually working on new transmission designs specifically for electric cars. This is because the lack of one causes the EV's top speed to be slower than it would otherwise be. A well-designed transmission, specifically for an EV, would serve as a form of middleman to help regulate the power delivery and battery range of the vehicle.
This would allow drivers to travel at higher speeds for longer periods of time while using less energy. Electric car batteries typically have a range of 250 to 310 miles, but an innovative transmission design could help extend that range. The trick is to keep it simple, intervening only enough to make the car as good at fast speeds as it is at low speeds. According to The Drive, there are indications that Tesla is working on a new electric gearbox, owing to the next Tesla Roadster's predicted 1.9-second zero to 60 time. But for the time being, the 2.3-second Model S will suffice.
An electric automobile produces the same amount of torque regardless of speed, but a gas car has a torque curve, which is a point in the engine's power range where maximum torque is created. Just as a gas automobile can't use all of the horsepower it's rated for, an electric vehicle can't always use all of its torque.