Tesla is constantly breaking new ground in the world of electric cars. The new Roadster is being touted as the quickest car ever, being able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 1.9 seconds.
How can a tesla accelerate so fast? There are ten main factors that help a Tesla speed up more quickly than many internal combustion vehicles.
- Instant-on power
- Dual motors
- Torque from zero RPM
- Incredible horsepower
- Traction control
- No shifting
- Extremely low center of gravity
- High-quality hardware
- High-quality Software
Although some internal combustion vehicles have some of these qualities, they still cannot accelerate as fast as a Tesla, even if they come reasonably close.
Teslas are very quick vehicles, but they aren’t that fast. This means that while they do not have a very high top speed, they have an incredible amount of acceleration.
Motor Trend has measured Teslas as hitting 60 miles per hour in 2.6 seconds, while they are held to just 155 miles per hour, as are several other cars—those by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi. This may seem like a high top speed, but the Henessey Venom GT can go 115 miles per hour over that. Not inerested in doing the math?–that’s 270 mph.
Still, 155 mph is fast, and 0 to 60 in 2.6—well, that’s fast too. How is Tesla able to achieve such speeds?
Using electricity instead of physical fuel speeds up the process of getting energy to the pistons. The process of getting electrons from a battery to an electric motor is much quicker than getting the fuel from a gas tank to the piston.
This is because electrons can travel much more quickly down a wire than fuel does when it goes down a fuel line. Electrons also go immediately to the place they’re needed, while fuel must go through a fuel pump and then to a fuel injector where it is sprayed into a piston that becomes ignited.
While the car is idling, there is fuel already being injected into the fuel line, gas pump, fuel injector, and then igniting in the piston. A lot more of this fuel is utilized when you start to accelerate.
Electric motors are able to produce maximum torque for their vehicles. According to Diffen, “Torque is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis.” At zero rotations per minute, this motor continues to give the same amount of torque at nearly every RPM level.
Internal combustion engines have much lower torques at the beginning and end of their respective torque curves. They hit their high torque levels in the middle of the curve. When you start out in low gear, the car must be shifted upward rapidly as the speed is increasing to be similar to the torque output and the car’s speed.
Two Electric Motors
Tesla makes use of two electric motors that are run at different gear ratios, one for the front wheels and one for the back. Not counting racing sports, many internal combustion engines only have one motor.
When you have two motors, the wheels will have more torque, and this allows for more considerable acceleration. This combination also allows for more efficient mixes of the wheels at different speeds. This is very similar to the various gears for internal combustion vehicles.
This is the point where you once again see the difference between quickness and fast. The torque will always be constant, while air resistance will require increased horsepower to maintain this acceleration because of air resistance.
The cube of velocity increases the air resistance, and it becomes much harder for the car to push all this air aside and keep increasing its speed.
With two motors, the Tesla is much better at pushing the air out of the way and at higher speeds than single engines.
This only touches the surface of horsepower and torque–if you’re interested in more information on them, check out this article: Horsepower vs. Torque.
The total horsepower that is put out by these two motor pumps is 762. Keep in mind that luxury sedans use less than 650. This horsepower is integral when increasing speed as the air resistance goes up.
All of this power is immediate. When you drive a Tesla, you don’t have to wait around for the RPMs to rev up. If you’re driving a car with an internal combustion engine, you have to wait for the engine to gradually build up its revs to hit their peak befoe you can shift to the next gear.
All Wheel Drive
When a vehicle has all-wheel drive, they have all of their torque available to their four sticky contact patches that are touching the ground as opposed to the usual two. This means that they can bring twice as much force to the ground without the tires spinning at all.
You may have noticed that muscle cars tend to have big rear wheels . The same is true of fuel dragsters, which havegigantic back wheels and much smaller ones on the front. Both do this to increase the area of the contact patch.
The torque characteristics of vehicles with electric motors can be controlled much easier than those with internal combustion engines.
The amount of torque delivered to the tires is constantly changing with internal combustion engines, and every gear shift or change in speed will make this change more apparent.
Electric motors give your tires the same amount of torque no matter the speed, and they don’t even have gearboxes so you can skip the surges that come from this shifting.
Acceleration is instant because of the electrons. These electrons get to the motor in an incredible amount of time, and the changing amount of electricity required is much more accurate than gas.
When you change the amount of required gas, you have to make the gas pump configure its pumping speed. The fuel injectors also have to be coordinated to bring the correct air-fuel mixture into the piston. Finally, this has to be done with the ignition timing to work correctly.
Compare this complicated process with the flow of ions, and its no contest which one is faster and more efficient. While the wheel slip detection sensors are the same, the Teslas can react much more rapidly than internal combustion cars.
There is absolutely no need to shift because you don’t have any gears. Internal combustion engines have to shift several times just to get to 60 MPH. Keep in mind that every time these vehicles shift, there is a short period of time where the gears aren’t active, and you aren’t accelerating.
You can’t take out shifting in these types of vehicles because it keeps them in their best part of the power band. Teslas and other electric cars don’t need to shift because it is always accelerating as fast as possible.
Low Center of Gravity
Teslas are very heavy, but they put their weight in the correct places to bring their center of gravity down. One of the heaviest parts of the car is the battery pack, which is spread out fairly equally to the front of the rear axle of the car and a little below the level of the axle.
What this all means is that the car will push down on all of its contacts equally, and all the force on the rear vs. front wheels changes much less under acceleration and under cars where the center of gravity is higher.
Electric motors are also a lot smaller than gas motors, and they are fixed much closer to the axles. By comparison, internal combustion engines and their gas tanks are mounted much higher on the car, above the axle.
This causes a lot of force to be generated on the rear wheels when it begins to accelerate, a lot more than a Tesla produces. When cornering and decelerating, the force will remain balanced for a Tesla while this isn’t the case for cars with internal combustion engines.
Tesla has added a lot of modifications to the hardware of their cars that allow them to out-accelerate most gas-powered cars.
One of these modifications is the power controller, which add some cool micro fuses to the transferring of power between the battery and the motor. This lets them push a lot more electricity from the battery to the motor.
Think of this as adding a thicker gas hose between the engine of an internal combustion car and the gas tank. Areas that need fuel the most will get it the fastest.
Tesla has upgraded the main pack contactor, which is a big switch controlled by electromagnets that operate under the control of software. High tech alloys such as steel and Inconel superalloys are used to allow the pack to resist the high amperage and heat.
Essentially, they took a component that was fairly limited, and they improved it to push electrons much faster. Then the component itself was upgraded to better handle the heat without melting.
Software releases are continually coming out since they keep innovating the power controller with minor configurations in the parameters. Anybody that buys a Tesla can benefit from these updates almost immediately.
The Fastest Ever
The Tesla Model S, when used in what the creators call “Ludicrous mode” can go from 0 to 60 MPH in just 2.5 seconds. This means that the only commercial cars on the planet to beat them are the Laferrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder.
These cars aren’t being mass-produced like Tesla’s are, and they are also way too expensive for the public. If you want to buy one of these, plan to shell out around a million dollars.
Typically, the density of a battery will determine how much energy it can release before having to be recharged. The other factor, the power density is what determines how fast energy can go in and out of a battery. This power is what determines how fast a car can accelerate, according to Jorid Caban, a chemist at the University of Illinois.
The new batteries that have been produced by Tesla increase the power density of these batteries, which in turn help these newer models reach these extremely high levels of acceleration.
They have changed the interior design of the battery pack and reduced the packaging in the battery so that it is made safer.
In the past, batteries that could produce this amount of power to allow for long-range driving and lots of power were extremely expensive. However, the Journal Nature has found that electric batteries are plummeting in cost.
Even if Teslas didn’t have their advanced battery system, they would still be swift in acceleration tests. As Duoba says, “An engine is a sort of breathing animal: it has to take air in and squeeze it.”
Performing all of these processes takes time. Electric motors don’t require as much time to get going because they don’t have to move as many parts as a gas-powered car.
When a driver presses the pedal, the Tesla can speed up quickly because the throttles don’t have to close up. All of these compounding effects, no matter how small, add up to the quickness of the Tesla.
The maximum torque can be achieved by Teslas at any RPM, due to its electric motors. When you examine gasoline-powered cars with internal combustion engines, you see that they need a specific combination of rotational speed, temperature, and airflow.
It will not reach its peak torque until it’s at a very high or low rpm. For many of these cars, the peak exists at around 4,500 RPM. When they have a net speed of zero, these engines are not at their maximum efficiency. The opposite is true of Teslas.
Induction Motor vs. Brushless
Tesla is one of the few electric cars that has switched over to induction drives. One of the fastest Tesla vehicles has one, the Tesla Roadster.
The 1990s featured electric vehicles that all were powered by DC brushless, except for one. Today, almost all of the hybrids are run by DC brushless drives. The only cars of note that use induction drives are
- Tesla Roadster
- General Motors EV-1
- AC propulsion vehicles
Induction drives and DC brushless both use motors that have very similar stators. The drives make use of modulating inverters with 3-phases. The main difference between these two is the inverter controls and the rotors.
DC brushless drives generate much more rotor heat than their induction counterparts. Rotor cooling is much easier, and its peak efficiency is usually higher for this drive. DC brushless drives can be operated at any unity power factor, while induction drives have a power factor of about 85%.
Ideally, the strength of the magnetic field (B) that is made by the magnets would be modifiable in a brushless drive. When the maximum torque is needed, especially at very low speeds, the magnetic field strength should be at max.
When this occurs, the motor currents and inverter will be maintained at their absolute lowest values. The current and resistance losses are minimized, which improves overall efficiency. The problem is that there isn’t an easy way to change B permanently.
Induction machines are in stark contrast to this. They have no magnets, and their B fields are “adjustable” because B is correlated to V/f (voltage to frequency). With lighter loads, the inverter can then reduce the voltage so that magnetic losses are minimized and efficiency is kept at a maximum.
Any machine that has an induction machine has an advantage over DC when they use a smart inverter. The trading of conduction and magnetic losses can be made in such a way that efficiency is optimized.
As the performance and quality of the machine increases, this advantage becomes even more significant. DC brushless motors cause magnetic losses, and the part-load efficiency decreases as the machine grows.
As the machine grows stronger with induction drives, there isn’t an increasing loss, which gives induction drives the edge in high-performance engines.
Overall, you can expect more peak efficiency with induction drives, but the average efficiency is worse than DC brushless. This is why Tesla employs induction drives because Tesla desires high-performance qualities. They already have a very efficient vehicle, so they can make a little sacrifice for cars such as the Roadster.
The significance of this is that even though induction drives are used in higher-performing cars, they are still cheaper. The inverter ratings, costs, and field weakening capabilities of induction drives are for all high-performance drives.
It is much easier to protect these spinning induction machines because they produce little to no voltage when they’re de-excited. One downside is that they are harder to control. It is much harder to get complete control with the torque-speed ranges and over temperatures. This can lead to more development costs but minimal recurring costs.
This is one of Tesla’s unique secrets. It lets their cars accelerate even faster. More specifically, it is a powertrain that delivers a 10% boost to the overall acceleration. This may not seem like a lot, but it shaves nearly half a second off the 0-60 MPH time for Tesla cars.
Recently, Tesla released an update they call “Ludicrous Plus,” which sought to reduce the 0-60 time even further. Now there is a new mode in the works that goes by “plaid.” This new powertrain will be on the three-motor versions of Model X, Roadster, and the Tesla Model S. However, it will not be on the lower costing Model Y or Model 3.
Tesla first revealed this new feature in November of 2017, they hinted at working on a three-motor powertrain and that the vehicle would be able to go from 0-60 mph in just 1.9 seconds and the top speed would be 250 mph and possibly higher.
Max Battery Power
There is a setting known as Max Battery Power that heats the Tesla battery up to its ideal operating temperature, and it ensures that 100% of its available power is accessible. The time to heat this battery depends on what environment you’re in, but at the most, it will take one hour.
After the battery is heated up, it will work towards propelling the all-electric vehicle forward as fast as it can. While this process does boost the acceleration, the Max Battery Power setting uses a lot of energy to keep its battery within the optimal temperature range. If you’re driving for a long time or in really hot conditions, this setting can also cool the battery.
This new acceleration setting will inevitably be updated and improved in the future. It is also being speculated that more battery-specific features are coming up. These features would increase performance and be a much-appreciated addition.
Are Teslas Faster Than Lamborghinis?
More specifically, is Tesla Model S P100D faster than the Lamborghini Aventador USP?
The short answer is yes, the Tesla is much faster right off the line, And this Tesla isn’t even one of the fastest, but it still gets a 0-60 MPH time of 2.5 seconds.
The Aventador is also very fast, but it hits 0-60 MPH in 2.7 seconds. This is much faster than almost any other car, but compared to Tesla’s Model S, it loses. Keep in mind that the new Roadster blows both of these out of the water.
Where the Lamborghini really shines and Tesla starts to lack is the top speed. The Model S P100D is limited electronically to 155 MPH while the Aventador can hit an extremely high speed of 217 MPH.
When driving either of these cars, it is highly unlikely you will reach the top speed of either, especially the Aventador, so it’s really up to you which is a more important quality to have.
How Many Miles Can a Tesla Motor Last
Its all well and good that a Tesla can accelerate extremely fast, but how long does the motor last?
The electric motors and battery of Tesla allow it to last much longer than luxury cars such as BMW, Audi, Porsche, or Mercedes. They have an unconditional guarantee to last unlimited miles for up to 8 years.
So far, reports have come in from drivers in North America and Europe that have put in 100,000 miles, and their battery range is staying at about 90 percent.
There are still fairly reasonable drawbacks, such as having to take time out of highway trips to recharge their batteries. Also, there is a significant reduction of battery power during times of very low temperatures.
All of these even out; however, Tesla owners come away with excellent acceleration, smooth and steady power, quiet driving, and excellent handling.
How Long Do The Batteries Last?
With a long-lasting motor and high-performance acceleration, you would think that the batteries would run out of power much faster than their other electrical competitors. This isn’t the case.
In fact, Elon Musk has been promising a car that would have a battery able to last for a million miles. Remember that this is more than double the current amount today.
This may seem like just a rumor because it is so outlandish, but in all actuality, it is a genuine possibility thanks to battery researchers at Dalhousie University. They have made an exclusive agreement with Tesla and published a paper in The Journal of the Electrochemical Society.
This new lithium-ion battery is said to be able to power an electric vehicle for over 1 million miles and lose less than 10 percent of its total energy capacity in its lifecycle.
This group has been headed up by the legendary physicist Jeff Dahn, one of the world’s leading lithium-ion researchers. This battery outperforms all lithium-ion batteries that come close to it.
While this new improvement holds significant value for cars of the average citizen, it is also being implemented into two new projects that Tesla is working on, robotaxis and long-haul electric trucks.
The creators of this new and improved battery are not treating it as a breakthrough but rather as a benchmark from which other battery researchers can work through. They have released all the electrode loadings, compositions, additives, etc. for all other researchers for their own R & D ventures.
Teslas have an incredible amount of acceleration that is thanks in large part to electric motors and all the torque they provide. They may not have a lot of top speed, but anything over 155 is not really necessary for most people.
There are many differences that Teslas have that make them accelerate faster than not only internal combustion engine cars but even expensive high-quality cars with internal combustion engines.
The new improvements that Tesla is bringing to the world of cars are astounding; they are not only increasing their acceleration but their fuel economy, reliability, safety and all for a reasonable price.