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Comparison of electric and gas-powered vehicles Essay

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Updated: Jan 26th, 2020


The auto industry has been undergoing changes since the first car was invented in 1871. Most of these changes are designed to help improve the efficiency and comfort of cars. Because of the increasing cost of gasoline and diesel, most of the latest developments in the performance of cars have been directed at the creation of alternative forms of power for the machines.

These investigative and development processes have led to the emergence of electric cars as possible replacements of gasoline/diesel-powered cars. This essay seeks to offer a comparison of electric and traditional fuel cars.

To this end, the initial part of the paper shall dwell on the similarities and differences of the two types of cars. Afterwards, the merits and demerits of each of the two systems shall be provided before a conclusion is drawn regarding which of the two systems is better in terms of efficiency and convenience.

Similarities and differences between electric and gas cars

Electric cars and traditional gas-powered vehicles look similar from the outside. They generally have similar wind-resisting shapes and share common features such as side-mirrors and indication systems.

Their interiors are also generally similar, each being equipped with a steering wheel, driving pedals and regular car seats. However, this is where the similarity stops. When one moves to the engine system, the first revelation is that electric cars only have one moving part-the motor [1].

The motor is powered by a fitted rechargeable battery pack and it propels the drive train causing the car to move. Gasoline cars, on the other hand, are powered by internal combustion engines, which derive power from the combustion of gasoline/diesel. Unlike electric cars which come with a huge battery pack, gas-powered cars have a fuel tank, which mostly goes under the car, behind the back seat.

The internal combustion engines also require some electric power to start hence the reason why the cars using these systems are fitted with small batteries connected to spark plugs and whose intention is to ignite the fuel. Their engines are very complicated and have hundreds of moving parts, starting from the pistons to other minute rotator valves regulating the inflow of fuel into the engine.

Gas-powered engines release emissions, which are let out to the air through an exhaust/tail pipe. In contrast, electric cars do not release any emissions, and are, therefore, not fitted with tail pipes. On the body of the vehicle, electric vehicles are fitted with a recharge socket, into which fits a special electric plug. Gas-powered cars have a pipe that connects to the tank with an opening fitted on the body of the vehicle for easy access.

Pros of electric vehicles/ cons of internal combustion engines

Electric cars have a number of advantages over traditional internal combustion engines [2]. Top on the list is the fact that these vehicles are very energy efficient. Electric vehicles convert approximately 60 percent of the energy stored in the battery packs to power that runs the wheels. Petrol-powered cars only convert approximately 20 percent of the energy contained in the fuel to energy driving the wheels.

Another advantage that electric cars have over internal combustion engines is that they are very environmentally friendly. Electric vehicles do not emit any gaseous discharges like those powered by traditional. If the power used to charge them is obtained from power plants run by wind, solar and water, the entire process from power-generation to usage in driving is 100 percent clean [3].

Electric vehicles are also better in performance than those powered by internal combustion engines. The cars powered by electricity run quietly and have a better and stronger acceleration rate than those that run on petrol and diesel. They (electric cars) are also cheaper to maintain because they have very few moveable parts. Finally, electric vehicles contribute greatly to a reduction in energy dependence.

For many years, car users have had to depend on a limited number of sources of energy to power their engines. This has had the drawback of paralyzing the transport industry once the supply of oil goes down. The entry of electric powered vehicles comes in to bridge this gap making socio-economic systems run efficiently.

Pros of internal combustion engines/ cons of electric vehicles

Internal combustion engines also have some significant advantages over electric vehicles. Top on the list is the fact that gasoline/diesel powered engines have a long driving range. A traditional vehicle once filled up with fuel can travel over 300 miles before the need to refuel. Electric vehicles when fully charged can only drive for anything between 100 and 200 miles before they are recharged [1].

This makes the internal combustion engines safer to use when going for long-distance journeys and more so in remote areas where there is an irregular penetration of electricity supply. The second advantage that tradition cars have over electric vehicles is that the recharge time for the latter is very long. Normally, it takes anything between four and eight hours to fully recharge the battery pack of an electric car.

Even an average quick charge, which fills up 80% of the battery pack, takes at least 30 minutes [3]. In contrast, it takes less than five minutes (depending on the capacity) to fill up a car with petrol or diesel. The battery packs that supply the driving power for electric cars require a considerable amount of space in the vehicle and are generally quite heavy.

This causes the vehicle to dedicate a considerable percentage of the generated energy to the battery weight. The batteries also need to be replaced after periods of use. Unfortunately, these batteries do not come cheap. In addition, finding a replacement can be a challenge especially in countries where the use of electric vehicles has not been well embraced.

Summary and Conclusion

This essay had set out to offer a comparative analysis of electric vehicles and traditional gas-powered cars. A list of similarities and differences was offered before the discussion delved into the strengths and weaknesses of each of the two types of vehicles. It has been shown that the two types of cars have similar body and cabin designs.

However, their differences come in their engines and associated features such as battery packs and fuel tanks. Electric cars have also been indicated to be more efficient and cheaper to maintain than traditional petrol/diesel powered cars.

The traditional vehicles have the advantage of going long distances without the need to refill and take a short time to fill up. In conclusion, it should be noted that even though electric vehicles appear to have more strengths than traditional vehicles, it might take time before their use becomes common. This is because it will take some time for the installation of recharge stations and maintenance stations.

Reference List

D. Sandalow, The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2000.

D. Sperling and D. Gordon, Two billion cars: driving toward sustainability. New York: Oxford University Press, New York, 2009.

S. Boschert, Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that will Recharge America. Canada: New Society Publishers, 2006.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Comparison of electric and gas-powered vehicles." January 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparison-of-electric-and-gas-powered-vehicles/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Comparison of electric and gas-powered vehicles'. 26 January.

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