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How do electric vehicles work?


Unlike gas-powered vehicles, electric vehicles (EVs) do not require internal combustion engines to operate. Outfitted with an electric motor and rechargeable battery pack, EVs move along our roadways without burning up gasoline, without producing harmful exhaust emissions and making less noise. If you’re thinking about making the switch to 100% electric driving, McGavock Nissan has detailed information on EVs and how going EV can work for you and your lifestyle.

The basics of electric vehicles

How do electric vehicles work? EVs receive energy from a charging station and store the energy in their batteries. These batteries give power to the motor which moves the wheels. Many electrical parts work together in the background to make this motion happen, but overall, EVs have fewer moving parts than conventional gas-powered vehicles.

Pretty simple.

Black Nissan LEAF

From electricity to motion

Forget gas - Nissan EVs use electricity stored in rechargeable, high-voltage batteries to power an electric motor. The motor converts this electric energy into mechanical power that moves the wheels and allows the vehicle to operate.

Man connecting nissan ariya to charger

Plug in, ride on

Electric vehicle batteries need to be charged with electricity. That electricity is supplied from a power outlet. All you need to do is plug in your EV at home or at a public charging station and let the grid do the rest.1 Soon, you’ll be fully charged and ready for the road.2

Learn more about EV charging >

Man driving 2023 LEAF

Creating energy as your drive

Every time you step on the brakes, energy is lost in the form of heat. Regenerative brakes can capture that energy and store it in the battery so you can use it to let your EV take you even further.

Learn more about EV benefits >

Key parts of an electric vehicle

Breaking down the key parts that make up an electric vehicle is essential to understanding how they work. These key components include:

Key parts of electrc vehicle infographic

Types of electric vehicles

Different types of electric vehicles provide drivers with a variety of features and varying benefits. The most common types of EVs include:

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)

A battery electric vehicle (BEV) is a zero-tailpipe emission electric vehicle that is powered solely from a battery pack. BEVs do not utilize internal combustion engines or gasoline to operate, so they do not produce harmful tailpipe emissions. These vehicles receive all their energy from Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) that draws electricity from the grid. Nissan ARIYA and Nissan LEAF are both Battery Electric Vehicles. For more information on ARIYA or LEAF, contact us!

Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV)

A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) features both an electric traction motor and an internal combustion engine, which means they require EVSE charging and gasoline to operate. A PHEV runs on electricity until its battery pack runs out of power, in which case its internal combustion engine turns on and runs on gasoline.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)

A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is a low-emission vehicle that utilizes a small battery pack to assist an internal combustion engine. These vehicles receive most of their power from gas and cannot be plugged in to charge. Instead, their battery packs are charged through regenerative braking and using a generator connected to the gas engine. Although HEVs can’t run solely on electric power, they maximize fuel economy by allowing the use of a high-efficiency, lower-power gasoline engine, running that engine in a more efficient way and only turning it on when necessary.

Man using the NissanConnect app
NissanConnect EV Services

You'll have everything you need to know about your EV's range and charging available at your fingertips on your compatible phone with NissanConnect EC Services.3 Figure out estimated driving range, find charging stations, set charging reminders, start charging your vehicle, and more all through the NissanConnect app.4

Nissan Electric Vehicles
2023 Nissan Ariya

Nissan ARIYA®

The All-New, All-Electric 2023 Nissan ARIYA® is our newest EV. Depending on the trim you choose, the ARIYA® offers up to 304 miles EPA estimated range.5 Battery size and two-wheel drive or e-4ORCE All-Wheel Drive provide different range options.

2023 Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF®

The LEAF® is Nissan’s first-ever mass-produced 100% electric vehicle. The standard 40 kWh battery delivers 100% torque every time you step on the accelerator. Nissan LEAF® SV Plus model uses a 60 kWh battery that takes EV power to the next level.

1Public charging networks are provided by independent companies, and are not within Nissan’s control. Availability of charging stations not guaranteed.

2Charging time and capacity may vary based on battery temperature. For Level 1 home charging, use only a 110-120 volt, 15-amp dedicated outlet for charging. See Customer Disclosure Form for details.

3Feature availability is dependent on vehicle model, trim level, packaging, and options. The trial is included with the vehicle purchase. A compatible connected device and wireless network may be required. Refer to the connected device’s owner’s manual for details. Late availability for some features.

4Enrollment, owner consent, personal identification number (PIN), and subscription agreement may be required to receive a full suite of features and services. Trial periods (if applicable) begin on the date of vehicle purchase or lease of a new Nissan. Trial periods and feature availability may be subject to change at any time and may be subject to early termination without notice. Required subscriptions may be sold separately for each available feature or service after trial period ends, and may continue until you call service provider to cancel. Installation costs, one-time activation fee, other fees and taxes may apply. Fees and programming subject to change. Feature may be subject to age restrictions in some areas. Subscriptions governed by service provider’s subscription agreement, terms and conditions and privacy statements available at service provider’s website. Text rates or data usage may apply. NissanConnect with WiFi terms and conditions of subscriber agreement apply. Included with vehicle purchase 1 GB or 30 Day Trial on equipped new Nissan vehicles. Once your vehicle has exceeded the coverage parameters of the roadside assistance benefits included with your vehicle purchase, you will be responsible for any charges incurred by obtaining roadside assistance for your vehicle. For complete information concerning warranty coverage, conditions and exclusions, please see your Nissan dealer and read the warranty information booklet.

5ENGAGE e-4ORCE AWD: Preliminary Nissan-estimated combined city/highway driving range up to 205 miles for ENGAGE e-4ORCE AWD. Based on Nissan's internal simulation results, subject to EPA confirmation. Actual mileage will vary with trim levels, options, and driving conditions. Use for comparison only. ENGAGE+ e-4ORCE AWD and EVOLVE+ e-4ORCE AWD: Preliminary Nissan-estimated combined city/highway driving range up to 270 miles for ENGAGE+ e-4ORCE AWD and EVOLVE+ e-4ORCE AWD. Based on Nissan's internal simulation results, subject to EPA confirmation. Actual mileage will vary with trim levels, options, and driving conditions. Use for comparison only.