Electric cars are the next big thing; there's no denying it, but are they faster than their gas counterparts? To help you understand the answer to this question, we have pulled information from some of the best online sources, all into one place. While there is not a definitive answer to this question, and it depends on whether you are talking about acceleration or the top speed, this is a fun and fascinating topic to explore.
Electric cars are not necessarily faster than gas-powered ones but they do accelerate faster. Usually, when you compare similarly-priced, or especially similarly-efficient vehicles, electric is faster. When it comes to top-end speed, however, that low-down torque becomes less important, and often gas-powered vehicles prevail here.
Want to learn even more about these speed machines? We will get into the specifics in this article.
Which is Faster - Gas or Electric?
Perhaps you have seen some of the videos online showing Teslas obliterating some impressive gas-powered competition. Many electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt, were designed to keep the price down, so their performance specs aren't all that impressive.
Teslas, on the other hand, especially the Model S and Model X, have been engineered to achieve outrageous performance. That means that, while they cost many times more than those entry-level electric cars, they are also some of the fastest-accelerating production vehicles on the planet.
Checking out the Wikipedia page on the fastest-accelerating production vehicles, we see that the Tesla Model S P100D with the Ludicrous+ update is the second-fastest production vehicle to reach 60 miles per hour, right behind the Porsche 918 Spyder.
That's incredibly impressive when you consider that the starting price for that Tesla model, now referred to as the Model S Performance, sits at around $100,000 compared to the Porsche's starting price of $845,000 when it was new. And the Tesla was just .08 seconds behind the 918. And being fully electric, Tesla is much more efficient as well.
To see how they really perform, let's look at some performance specs of today's electric vehicles.
Tesla Model S Performance
0 to 60: 2.28 seconds
Top Speed: 163 mph
Base Price: $99,990
Tesla Model X Performance
0 to 60: 2.7 seconds
Top Speed: 163 mph
Base Price: $104,990
Tesla Model 3 Performance
0 to 60: 3.2 seconds
Top Speed: 162 mph
Base Price: $56,990
0 to 60: 4.3 seconds
Top Speed: 128 mph
Base Price: $69,500
0 to 60: 5.5 seconds
Top Speed: 124 mph
Base Price: $74,800
Hyundai Kona EV
0 to 60: 6.4 seconds
Top Speed: 110 mph
Base Price: $36,950
0 to 60: 6.5 seconds
Top Speed: 91 mph
Base Price: $36,620
0 to 60: 7.4 seconds
Top Speed: 92 mph
Base Price: $29,990
As you can see, the Teslas are king when it comes to acceleration. But even the much cheaper options like the Hyundai Kona will feel very quick, all with sub-8 second sprints to 60. Top speeds, on the other hand, are not world-class, even for the mighty Teslas.
In fact, today's fastest production cars can achieve speeds of almost 100 mph faster than even the Tesla Model S Performance's 163 mph figure. Most buyers will be okay with that limitation, however, because, in the real world, few drivers ever exceed 100 mph, not to mention 2o0 mph.
Why Do Electric Cars Have Instant Acceleration?
In contrast with gasoline-powered engines, the engines in electric cars have instant acceleration. While gas engines take time to convert energy into motion, electric motors offer immediate torque. But why? The difference lies in the engine and transmission design of both types of vehicles.
Internal combustion engines use up a lot of energy, creating heat, friction, noise, and even pollution. Most of their energy—around 70 percent—doesn’t go toward the work of starting the engine. The 30 percent that remains is what gets gas-powered vehicles off the starting line. Together with the transmission, which delivers the power to the wheels, that flow of energy helps the car start moving.
In contrast, electric cars don’t waste as much energy since they run at around 90 percent efficiency. They don't get nearly as hot or expel as many emissions, either. Part of their efficiency is the fact that they don’t have a traditional transmission. Instead of waiting around for the energy to flow, you have the benefit of instant torque directly to the wheels.
That quick and seamless power delivery means the acceleration doesn't require a chain reaction to get started. At the same time, the instant acceleration has a significant drawback: lower overall speeds.
Why Are Electric Cars Better Than Gas Cars?
As we have seen, electric cars have some advantages over their ICE rivals. There are many reasons why electric motors are better for acceleration than gas engines.
For starters, as was mentioned above, these motors produce instantaneous torque from 0 rpm. That's the main reason for electric cars' impressive acceleration. Torque is the measure of your car's ability to rotate the wheels. Torque is what you feel when your car pushes you back into the seat as you accelerate, and having a lot of torque is the main reason people say a car "feels" fast.
A handful of features influence how quickly a car can accelerate, like:
- The mass of the vehicle
- How many passengers are on board
- The efficiency of the engine
- The amount of friction involved
- The presence (or lack) of a transmission and the number of gears
But no matter what specific acceleration rate an electric car has, every vehicle can deliver maximum RPMs the moment you apply the accelerator. The engine can produce a ton of torque at exactly no RPMs—it's sitting on plenty of power reserves.
Even the most advanced turbocharged engines these days must rev to over 1,000 rpm before achieving peak torque figures. Because electric motors are able to send all of that torque to the wheels immediately, electric cars give you a real "shove" in the behind when you start off from a standstill.
While not all-electric cars develop a lot of horsepower, some do. When we talk about horsepower, this is the ability of your vehicle to reach high speeds. While torque can be thought of as twist, or "pushing power," you can think of horsepower as "pulling power," what pulls your car along to higher speeds after it starts accelerating.
Tesla's performance models, for instance, have more power than just about any other car on the road. For example, the Model S Performance boasts an incredible 762 bhp (brake horsepower). Most electric cars are designed with less horsepower, however, as it takes a lot of battery to produce that power, and manufacturers opt instead to have a smaller, lighter, and, most importantly, cheaper battery.
Unlike just about every other car on sale, many electric cars use just one gear. That means they don't have to make any time-consuming shifts as they accelerate. While it's true that many performance vehicles today can fire off lighting-fast shifts, they still do take time to shift, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to a vehicle with just one gear.
In addition to their impressive acceleration, electric cars are better than ICE vehicles because they are better for the environment. Yes, even the hot-rodded Teslas produce power much more efficiently than just about any gas-powered vehicle on the planet. Check out this informative video by Engineering Explained if you don't believe us.
With fewer moving parts required to get moving, electric cars also require less maintenance than ICE-powered cars. Electric motors are fairly simple in design compared to modern internal-combustion engines. Their maintenance schedule is less rigorous, and you can even fill up the battery at home - no more trips to the gas station!
Because electric motors emit a faint whirring noise as they accelerate, electric cars are much quieter than ICE-powered cars. This is especially true when accelerating - gas cars tend to be noisy when asked to rev quickly. Electric cars, on the other hand, can race past your house in the middle of the night, and you would never even hear it. This pays off with a nice, peaceful experience from behind the wheel, as well.
How Fast Can an Electric Car Accelerate?
As we have seen, the Tesla Model S Performance can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a blistering 2.28 seconds. It can also polish off the quarter-mile in just 10.6 seconds at 127.6 mph. But that is not the limit of electric acceleration.
There is actually a whole world of electric car drag racers, and the current quarter-mile record stands at 7.98 seconds. And there is no way we won't see faster electric cars in the near future, both in production and on aftermarket racers.
How Can You Make An Electric Car Faster?
Many car owners enjoy modifying their cars to make them faster. This can also be done with electric cars. Once again, Engineering Explained provides a great source for this topic:
Basically, to make your electric car faster, you can use a bigger battery, which will send more power to the wheels. Being able to cool your batteries faster can also help increase your power and performance.
As far as the design of the motors - which consists of rotors spinning around inside of a stationary stator - you can also place the magnets of the rotor closer to the stator, which increases power and efficiency (but has other drawbacks). Some owners also use new or updated software to tune them to produce more power.
Why Do Electric Cars Have More Torque?
Electric motors operate differently than gas engines. In a typical gas engine, fuel and gas mix inside of the engine, then are ignited to move the pistons and create the rotation needed to move the wheels. In these engines, the RPMs (revolutions per minute) must increase to create power and torque. That's what gives these engines their "torque curve," the line showing the relationship between RPMs and torque. In a typical graph, you will see the torque and then fall as the revolutions increase to redline.
Electric motors do not have to rely on combustion events inside of the engine to create torque. They can simply send their electrons down the chain the wheels. That's it - full, 100% torque is available at all times. This makes them feel much "torquier" than gas-powered vehicles.
How Fast Will a Tesla Go?
The 2020 Tesla Roadster claims a top speed of over 250 miles per hour. For now, that’s just a rumor, since the vehicles aren’t in production yet.
The 2019 Tesla Model S, a more accessible consumer vehicle, has a top speed of 155 mph, but that doesn’t mean you can achieve such speeds on the freeway. For one thing, top speeds on all vehicles are determined under specific road conditions. Plus, there are often modifications or dealership packages that affect a car’s mass and aerodynamics.
So, if you buy a Tesla Model S, odds are you won’t be able to recreate the ideal top speed in your everyday driving. You might be able to challenge gas-powered cars to a short race with success, though. If you wait it out for the new Roadster, its reported 1.9-second acceleration and top speed should beat out the competition.
Is a Tesla Faster Than a Lamborghini?
While Tesla is continuously innovating its electric cars, the ones currently in dealerships still can’t compete with a Lamborghini. Manufacturer specs state that the newest Lamborghini Aventador S can reach speeds of 217 miles per hour. The much-anticipated Roadster is technically faster, but at present, its max MPH is unproven.
The Aventador can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 2.9 seconds. However, the Tesla Model S has an acceleration time of 2.8 seconds, so it can beat a Lamborghini off the line with no problem.
What’s the Fastest Electric Car Made?
Advances are always being made in the auto industry, but as of 2019, the fastest street car on record is the Rimac C_Two, which tops out at 258 miles per hour. The C_Two offers features like Level 4 self-driving, ultrasonic sensors plus radar and cameras, a drift mode, and facial recognition for unlocking the car.
What’s the Fastest Gas-Powered Car Made?
As of 2017, the fastest gas-powered car in the world is the Koenigsegg Agera, which performed at an average speed of 278 miles per hour. The test confirmed the Agera as the fastest production car in history. Other vehicle prototypes have shown promise toward unseating the Agera as the fastest gas-powered car, but none have entered production yet.
While plenty of electric concept cars promise to outpace gasoline-powered vehicles, no consumer automobile has done it yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun racing Corvettes off the line in your Tesla, though.
Electric Speed Wagon
In conclusion, electric vehicles tend to be faster than gas-powered cars, thanks to their instantaneous torque and efficient drivetrains. Because they offer this impressive performance along with their inherent Earth-friendly operation, it appears that electric is the way of the future. Look for more electric options at your local dealerships in the coming years.