Why Is Torque Important In Electric Cars?

Tesla Model X electric car

Does Torque Matter? Yes, But It Does Not Have To Be The Most Important Reason For Buying A Car!


In car reviews, ‘torque’ features predominantly, as one of the key performance advantages of any type of vehicle, to include electric cars and internal combustion engines (ICE). 

However, in reality, most of us are absolutely clueless about terminology in relation to vehicle performance.  I hear you, specially those of us who are just looking to acquire a ‘dream electric car’ and not a university degree in physics.  But it pays to understand these concepts at some basic level.  Remember the better informed you are as a buyer, the higher the probability you will buy a car that suits your requirements.  

Not all of us regard insane brake horsepower, torque and acceleration as important.  I certainly do not for everyday driving. If I do desperately need a ‘performance and power fix’, I will simply visit a race track.  The point here is, do not be easily ‘seduced’ by performance metrics.  I know the car reviewers will be aghast by my comments, but then keep in mind, they have all along only written for the ‘testosterone filled’ male audience.  

We at e-zoomed prefer a more balanced approach to the target audience,  and certainly hope that at least half the readers of our blog are women.  

When buying an electric car, first assess your needs.  As an example, is it for short local commutes i.e. school runs, local high street trips etc., or do you need the green car for long work commutes, carrying heavier loads?  For most local commuting, a small pure electric car like a BMWi3 or a Nissan Leaf will do just fine.  In general, smaller cars, which are lighter in weight, do not need substantial torque to travel efficiently.  However, heavier vehicles like all-electric SUVs need more torque, hence more relevant. For such travel, pure electric SUVs, like the Jaguar I-PACE are appropriate, as the EV has both cabin space and torque!  


So, What Is Torque?


wrench and torque
Torque: The Turning Or Rotational Power

Torque if the ‘turning or rotational power’ of the engine i.e. how much power can an engine produce.  It is sometimes referred to as ‘oomph’ or ‘pulling power’.  The turning power is similar to the power you have turning a wrench. Torque can be viewed as the ‘strength’ of the car.  The greater the torque, the faster the acceleration that propels the vehicle from 0-60 mph, with you pushed against the seat.  Torque is measured in Newton Metre (Nm).  


Is Torque Better in Electric Vehicles Compared To Petrol & Diesel Cars?


Yes certainly, battery electric vehicles have better torque performance than internal combustion engines, hence the ‘torque of the town’! If in doubt, look at a traffic light that has both these types of cars.  As the signal changes to green, the electric car will quickly leave behind the diesel and petrol cars.  The primary reason for the superior acceleration in electric cars, is that, electric vehicles deliver ‘peak or maximum torque’ instantaneously, producing immediate acceleration.  However, petrol and diesel cars take time to reach maximum or peak torque. In particular, diesel cars are known for being sluggish.  Bottom-line, the better torque performance of electric cars, further contributes to the ‘fun factor’ in driving EVs compared to conventional cars.  

Yes, it is true that many internal combustion engine cars can achieve higher top speeds compared to electric cars i.e. higher brake horsepower (bhp).  However, if you are a good driver following the law, you will drive within the speed limit.  Most EVs have top speeds between 90 to 120 mph, and in some cases even higher.  But where can you use the higher ‘achievable speed’ of internal combustion engines, in particular in urban environments?  Short answer: nowhere, except a legal race track! 

If the environmental benefits of an EV cannot convince die hard petrol-heads to convert, the ferocious and instant torque delivery of electric cars, certainly will. 



Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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