Electric Vehicles: Where the Frunk Is the Motor?

Have you seen a video of a Tesla taking off from a stop, whipping its passengers back with force? An EV with so much power, even though there’s no big motor in the front? Their front trunk or “frunk” may confuse some prospective EV buyers about what really powers these futuristic vehicles. In today’s blog post, we’ll explore where the motor in an EV is, how the electric motor drives the vehicle, and how EVs surpass gas-powered vehicles.

Location of the EV Motor

Nissan Lead Electric Vehicle

For the most part, an EV’s motor will be almost in line with the drive wheels. The Nissan Leaf, for example, has a larger unit where a combustion engine would normally go that is stacked in three layers: the power delivery module (responsible for powering everything in the car from A/C to inverter), inverter (responsible for speed and torque), and traction motor (receives power from inverter and turns it into rotation). The battery needed to power the vehicle is along the floor between the passengers and the ground. This design is common in a lot of EVs because batteries are heavy, so the lower the battery, the lower the car’s centre of gravity.

Cars like this don’t have a frunk.

Electric Cars That Do Have a Frunk

Charging at Home

EVs like the Model 3, however, offer a more compact design that uses internal permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motors. That’s a lot of words to digest. Think of a big cylinder on the outside, like a sleeve, called the stator. The stator uses electric current to produce a magnetic field called a rotating magnet field (RMF). Inside the stator is another cylinder called the rotor. It has permanent magnets. The RMF enables the motor to be compact yet powerful.

Why EVs Are Superior

A common concern for many car buyers is how far an EV can drive compared to a gas-powered vehicle. However, this is only a disadvantage if you live far away from a fast charger. EVs offer their owners some interesting advantages over gas-powered vehicles:

  • Electric cars offer instant torque, because when the electric motor turns, it turns with all its force right away, whereas gas-powered vehicles require a transmission in order to help them regulate rotations per minute.
  • EVs generate their own electricity. While it’s not enough to see any increase in battery, regenerative braking means an EV generates electricity from friction created when slowing down. It’s a feature on every EV. A gas-powered vehicle can’t regenerate gas.
  • Most EVs, like the Chevrolet Bolt, have a lower centre of gravity thanks to placing the battery underneath the passenger area. This benefits those who live in colder climates, because in some cases, the low centre of gravity can improve handling on snowy, slushy, icy roads.

Frunk or No Frunk: Electric Cars Are Powerful

The coolest thing about EV’s is we’re just in the beginning. We’ll continue to see an increase in technology advances and range increases. The next time you’re looking at an EV and wonder where the motor is, you know that it’s a compact power plant hidden from plain sight. Don’t forget to look at that impressive frunk, though. Think of all the groceries that would fit in there!