Do electric cars have gears or transmissions?


The short answer is, yes, electric cars do have transmissions. However, most EVs do not have a multi-speed transmission like ICE vehicles, but instead use a single-speed transmission. 

Additionally, EVs still require a gear to transmit energy from the electric motor to the wheels. Depending on the manufacturer, you may see different terms: single-speed gear reducer (Nissan Leaf), single-speed fixed gear (Tesla Model 3), one-speed gearbox (Volkswagen ID.4), single-stage transmission (Mercedes EQS SUV), one-speed transmission (BMW iX). Some manufacturers will also claim that an EV may not have a transmission but instead reduction gearing, which performs the same function.

In traditional ICE vehicles, the transmission is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels through a series of gears. This is required because the power generation from combustion engines is only efficient within specific RPM ranges. Therefore, gear shifts are necessary to make sure the engine RPM matches the energy needed for wheel movement.

Electric motors, on the other hand, provide instantaneous power, and produce a near constant amount of torque across a broad range of RPM. The electric motor is able to provide power directly to the wheels, eliminating the complex multi-speed transmissions and replacing the often clunky driving experience with a smooth, effortless one.

Some manufacturers are experimenting with two-gear transmissions to increase high-speed cruising efficiency, improved acceleration, and to elevate the driving experience, which is sometimes considered boring by car enthusiasts. Additionally, some EVs now feature in-wheel motors, completely eliminating the need for a traditional transmission altogether, potentially improving power delivery, improving handling, traction, and efficiency.  

Currently, the only EVs with two-speed transmissions are the Porsche Taycan and the Audi e-tron GT. The first gear is in charge of acceleration, while the second gear delivers the top speed and improved highway efficiency. Generally speaking, EVs are not efficient at highway speeds (relative to city speeds), but the second gear allows these vehicles to overcome this limitation. 

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