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A gasoline engine produces maximum horsepower at the RPM it peaks out around ~7000-8000 rpm. It has somewhat a flat torque curve with decent power until you get to higher speeds where it tapers off because of reduced intake oxygen density.
On the other hand, an EV has its maximum torque available instantly regardless of speed or gear. An ICE needs time for the fuel/air mixture to burn and expand in the cylinders, an EV just needs time for electrons to flow.
Electric cars have an instantaneous torque curve while gasoline-powered cars have a torque curve that builds with RPMs. You can think of this in terms of the amount of force it takes to open a door vs the amount of force it takes to break a board in half.
An electric motor delivers maximum torque from 0 RPM which results in instant acceleration and better hill climbing capability with no lag time due to turbos or superchargers.
EVs have a very steep torque curve because they can produce a lot of torque even at high RPMs. This happens because electric powertrains have no gears and are powered by DC current instead of gas pressure, so there is no need to shift gears or rev the engine.
The torque curve is the relationship between power output and rotational speed of the engine's crankshaft. The most torque (and hence best acceleration) is produced at low speeds where there is high exhaust gas flow.
Electric motors provide high levels of torque at all speeds whereas internal combustion engines need time to build up RPMs to produce the same type of torque as an electric car.
Combustion engines also use gears that let them turn fewer revolutions per minute but operate at higher power, allowing them to travel long distances on highways at higher speeds than electric cars which don't have gears.
Electric cars essentially use one gear that delivers full torque at all speeds, allowing them to accelerate faster than internal combustion engines.
The Tesla Model S Plaid is advertised to accelerate from 0-100kph in under 2 seconds. How? This question is easy to answer if you can see the torque curve chart of an ICE vs an EV, and here is an example:
- The Tesla Model S Plaid has a 100 kWh battery and can go from 0-100kph in 1.98 seconds. The power output of the Tesla Model S Plaid is 1020 horsepower.
- The Nissan Leaf has a 40 kWh battery and can go from 0-100kph in 7.3 seconds. The power output of the Nissan Leaf is 214 horsepower.
- The Porsche Panamera Turbo S (an ICE) accelerates from 0-100kph in 3.1 seconds, and has 620 horsepower (4-litre, twin-turbo V8).
Thoughts About Why Electric Cars Accelerate Faster Than ICE Cars?
As you can see, EVs are able to produce much more torque at lower speeds than ICEs. This is why EVs are generally better for acceleration compared to ICEs. However, there are certain situations where the ICE engines may be better at acceleration because gears are used to make maximum use of power output.