Tesla Motors Vs. Gasoline V6 Engines


Tesla Engines Vs. Gasoline V6 Engines

It’s no question that electric cars are gaining popularity and may well be where the future of the car industry lies. Tesla, at the forefront of this innovation, has revolutionized the way cars can run fully electric. But what is so innovative in these Tesla engines that can convince you to look past the conventional V6 engine?

The specifications of both Tesla engines and V6 engines have several key differences:

 Tesla Engines V6 Engines
Year Introduced1887
When Nikola Tesla invented the induction motor

2008
When Tesla released their first electric car.
1906
When the first prototype was made

1950
When the first production took place
Engine TypeAC induction motorInternal combustion engine (ICE)
BatteryRechargeable lithium-ion batteriesNone
Number of pistonsNot applicableSix cylinders
Engine configurationAC induction motor

Induction Motor

Inverter

Lithium ion batteries 
V engine (also known as “Vee engines”)

Cylinders are mounted on two-cylinder banks

Crankshaft

Pistons

Intake & exhaust valves

Spark plugs
Motor speed0 to 18,000 RPM2,000 to 4,000 RPM
TransmissionSingle-speed transmissionMultiple-speed transmission
Power270 kW140 kW
Weight70 pounds (31.8 kgs)250 pounds or more (113 kgs)
Power to weight ratio8.5 kW/kg0.8 kW/kg
SizeCompact compared to all internal combustion enginesCompact than inline or straight engines

Although induction motors have long been around since Nikola Tesla invented it in 1887, Tesla defied reality by being able to incorporate this old engineering with artificial intelligence to power vehicles. Read on further if you’re curious as to how Tesla engines work.

How Does a Tesla Engine Work?

A Tesla engine has three main components:

  1. Induction Motor 
    • Has two main parts: stator and rotor.
    • Stator produces Rotating Magnetic Field (RMF) that enables the rotor (consists of conduction bars) to turn.
  2. Inverter
    • Acts as the “brain” of the engine.
  3. Lithium-ion batteries 
    • Acts as a power supply.
    • The same type of batteries that powers cellphones, laptops, you name it!
    • Enclosed in 16 battery packs are 7,000 battery cells arranged in a parallel position where glycol coolant is passed through metallic inner tubes filling the gap between each cell. This method guarantees cooling and reduces hotspots, thereby reducing battery degradation.

The mechanism of a Tesla engine is fairly simple:

  1. AC power supply is needed to power an induction motor. In this case, lithium ion batteries are used.
  2. However, these batteries are only able to supply DC power, thus, an inverter is needed to convert DC power to AC power.
  3. As the AC power reaches the induction motor, the stator produces a Rotating Magnetic Field (RMF).
  4. The RMF induces current to make the rotor turn. The inverter regulates the rotor speed by adjusting the frequency of the AC power. By doing so, this makes Tesla cars easy to control. The Tesla motor can produce a speed of up to 18,000 RPM.
  5. The power produced by the motor is then transferred to the wheels through the gearbox which houses the transmission.
  6. A Tesla car only uses a single-speed transmission because of the motor’s capability to rev at a higher rate than internal combustion engines and the ability to produce torque from 0 revs.

How Does a Tesla Braking System Work?

Tesla has a special braking system often referred to as “regenerative braking”. This feature makes it far more superior than a conventional braking system. This is due to their ability to be able to store extra energy back into the induction motor when the brakes are applied instead of transforming the energy into heat like in a conventional braking system. What is the principle behind this mechanism?

The Physics of Regenerative Braking

A simple physics recall that still applies to this day is by the great Albert Einstein’s Law of Thermodynamics, “Energy can neither be destroyed nor created, but can only be converted from one form into another”.

Here’s how regenerative braking works:

  1. In a Tesla engine, each time the driver steps on the pedal, electric energy from the batteries are transformed into kinetic energy to accelerate the vehicle.  
  2. When the driver either releases the accelerator or hits the brake pedal, the gears that make the vehicle move forward reverses in direction. 
  3. This maneuver converts the unused kinetic energy back to electric energy and will be stored in the induction motor.
  4. The induction motor then acts as a generator, and eventually returns the electric energy back into the battery pack.

Meanwhile, in a conventional braking system typically found in ICE, the gears do not have the ability to reverse in direction. The unused kinetic energy can only be converted to heat energy produced by the friction of the brake pads rubbing against the brake rotors. This heat energy is then lost into the atmosphere.

If you want an audio-visual representation on how a Tesla engine works, you may view this YouTube video by LearnEngineering.

How Does a V6 Engine Work?

V6 engines are termed as such because of their V configuration where three cylinders are mounted on each of the two cylinder banks supported by a crankshaft. The conventional V6 engine works like a typical internal combustion engine. 

This is how a V6 engine works:

  1. As the piston pushes downward within a cylinder, the intake valve opens to allow air and fuel to mix. 
  2. The piston then moves back up to compress the air-fuel mixture, allowing it to combust. 
  3. The spark plug explosively ignites the mixture, causing the piston to move back down. 
  4. The piston naturally returns back up, the exhaust valve opens, and the combusted mixture exits through the exhaust valves.

For more in-depth explanation, you may view this YouTube video on how internal combustion engines work.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Tesla Engines and V6 Engines? 

Indeed, both engines have different principles or engine mechanisms. But what makes Tesla engines more superior than V6 engines? Here is a table that summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of both engines:

 Tesla Engines V6 Engines
Advantages1. The induction motor makes it more compact.

2. The induction motor produces direct rotational motion eliminating the need for a crankshaft.

3. More stable.

4. Environmentally friendly as it uses batteries to power the motor instead of fuel.

5. Less maintenance needed.

6. Safer during side collisions as battery pack is spread across the floor providing rigidity.

7. Equipped with regenerative braking
1. Compact engine compared to     some inline engines due to their V configuration.

2. More powerful than inline engines.

3. Cheaper when compared to electric cars.  
Disadvantages1. The car itself is more expensive.

2. Battery needs charging.

3. Charging stations are not available in many states and countries.  
1. The pistons only produce linear motion, thus, a crankshaft is needed to convert the linear motion to rotational motion making it bulkier.

2. More prone to wear and tear.

3. Weighs more.

4. Vibrations due to engine imbalance. Due to the friction and inertia applied by the pistons and the movement of the crankshaft. A balance shaft or counterweights is usually added to reduce vibrations, thereby making it costlier than inline engines.

5. More prone to wear and tear.  

I already see a clear winner among the two even when I have not discussed in detail Tesla’s artificial intelligence capability which I will elaborate further in this article. Before we do that, let’s find out how a Tesla engine would fare against hybrid engines.

How Does A Tesla Engine Fare Against Hybrid Engines?

Before Tesla gained popularity, hybrids had their fair share of the spotlight. First produced by Toyota in 1997, its success led other car makers to follow suit.

A hybrid car, in simple terms, uses both an electric engine and a conventional combustion engine. You basically get the best of both worlds! 

In today’s market, there are three main types of hybrid cars:

  1. Full hybrid
    • Otherwise known as parallel hybrids or “FHEV”   
    • Can run on just the electric engine, the combustion engine, or a combination of both 
    • Battery can only be recharged when the combustion engine is used
    • Common examples include: Toyota Prius and Ford Escape 
  2. Mild Hybrid
    • Also known as the Battery-assisted hybrid vehicles (BHAV)
    • The internal combustion engine automatically turns off when going down a hill or coming to a stop but cannot fully run on the electric engine alone
    • May be equipped with regenerative braking
    • Example: Honda Insight
  3. Plug-in Hybrid
    • Abbreviated as “PHEV”
    • Needs to be “plugged-in” from an external electricity source to fully recharge batteries
    • Has a larger battery pack which reduces fuel consumption significantly
    • Example: Chrysler Pacifica

The Differences Between A Tesla Engine and Hybrid Engines

The first and most obvious difference of the two is Tesla engines run fully electric, whereas Hybrid engines do not. This means a Tesla car is able to eliminate carbon footprint entirely, meanwhile a hybrid car’s dependency on oil would make it impossible.

Currently, a Tesla battery pack is said to last within 300,000 to 500,000 miles whereas hybrid cars only tend to last for at least 100,000 miles.

Lithium-ion batteries have limited charge/discharge cycles. They tend to lose charge as they age. This may be a drawback to both types of engines, but Tesla and many hybrid car makers tend to offer long warranty period. 

For instance, Tesla offers 4-year warranty or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Hybrid cars may even offer more, ranging from an 8-year to 10-year warranty or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Nevertheless, having a battery pack replaced without warranty nowadays has significantly become cheaper than it used to be.

Truly, both Tesla engines and hybrid engines have their advantages and drawbacks, but what sets Tesla engines apart is their Autopilot AI capability.

How Much Does It Cost to Fuel Tesla Engines?

There are two ways to charge the batteries of a Tesla. You can either charge it from the comfort of your home via a Tesla Wall Connector or through a Supercharger located in designated public areas. 

Charging at Home

You can purchase a Tesla Wall Connector to charge your car. This is the more convenient option as you can charge your vehicle overnight and get it fully charged for work the next day. 

Currently, the charger retails for $500 and you will probably need to contact an electrician to install it for you. If you live in rural areas where no Superchargers are available nearby, this is your best bet.

Charging at a Supercharger

Presently, Tesla Superchargers are only available in urban areas. These chargers are placed in the most strategically placed areas such as in malls and grocery stores. A plug-in takes about 30 minutes. 

The Cost of Charging a Tesla Vs. Fueling a V6

Tesla boasts a cost-effective platform when compared to cars that use gasoline. Here’s a summary of how much a driver can save money for every 500 miles when using a Supercharger versus gasoline:

 Cost to use Tesla SuperchargerCost of GasSavings when using a Supercharger
Model S$39$68$29
Model X$44$68$24
Model 3$33$51$18

Supercharger Technology and Battery Life

From the name itself, a supercharger is capable of delivering DC power to recharge the lithium-ion batteries packed in a Tesla vehicle. Similar to how a cellphone is charged, it initially delivers energy in a rapid matter, then eventually slows down. 

The tendency with rapid charging is that it creates more heat, which often is a primary cause for a battery to degrade faster. 

Thankfully, with Tesla’s advanced engineering, they found a way to reduce battery degradation even with rapid charging. They were able to come up with a flawless battery pack design where the batteries are able to retain their optimal temperature.

Ways to Reduce Battery Degradation

As battery degradation is truly inevitable, there are ways to fully maximize the batteries’ lifespan:

  1. Tesla still prefers to use a low-voltage charger and only recommends using Superchargers when necessary.
  2. Recharge before it goes below 20% and stop before it goes above 90%. Full charging should only be done occasionally.
  3. Store your car in warmer temperatures as the regenerative braking feature doesn’t tend to perform well in either cold temperatures or when it’s charged above 90%.

A Comparison of Tesla Car Models

There are currently four models to choose from:

Model SModel 3Model XModel Y
BatteryLong rangeLong rangeLong rangeLong range
Acceleration2.3 seconds         0-60mph3.2 seconds         0-60mph2.6 seconds         0-60 mph3.5 seconds          0-60 mph
Range348 miles299 miles305 miles291 miles
DriveAll-wheel driveDual motor All-wheel driveAll-wheel driveDual motor All-wheel drive
Seating5-seater5-seater7-seater7-seater
Weight4,941 lbs4,036 lbs5,531 lbs4,416 lbs
Cargo28 cu ft15 cu ft88 cu ft68 cu ft
Display17” touchscreen15” touchscreen17” touchscreen15” touchscreen
WarrantyBasic Vehicle
4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first

Battery Drive Unit
8 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first
Basic Vehicle
4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first

Battery Drive Unit
8 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first
Basic Vehicle
4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first

Battery Drive Unit
8 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first
Basic Vehicle
4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first

Battery Drive Unit
8 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes first
PriceFrom $74,990From $35,000From $79,990From $49,990

Model S is Tesla’s flagship sedan. Model 3 is the newest and most affordable model. It is also rated to be the safest among all models. Model X and Y are marketed as family-type vehicles because of its seating capacity.

Does Tesla’s Autopilot Take Advantage of Engine Capability?

Tesla machines are much more than just the engine hardware—the software package that accompanies the engine goes far beyond a typical V6 car’s capability. Although the invention of self-driving cars has been around since 1958, thanks to General Motors, Tesla’s Autopilot AI changed the entire gameplay in the field of autonomous driving.

The technologically advanced Autopilot takes their car’s physical and software capability to a whole new level in these 5 aspects: 

  1. Silicon chip hardware
    • Houses the revolutionary software that analyzes power, timing, and floor-planning.
  2. Neural Networks
    • Networks from a birds-eye-view sourced from all Tesla vehicles in real time consisting of cameras able to detect objects, semantics, and depth estimation, then relays that to the engines to prepare for sudden changes in power supply to the driveshaft
    • Captured images are also used to layout roads and infrastructures.
    • Capable of producing 1,000 predictions every interval.
  3. Autonomy Algorithms
    • Creates algorithms that include calculating trajectories and creates decision based on obtained data from the car’s 360 degrees sensors and front radar that is able to see through heavy rain, fog, and car.
  4. Code Foundations
    • Tesla claims that “throughput, latency, correctness and determinism are the main metrics we optimize our code for.” 
    • Writes codes efficiently that capture data from sensors.
  5. Evaluation Infrastructure
    • Able to produce realistic graphics to track performance.

Every new Tesla car comes with a basic Autopilot. Based on Autopilot Review’s article, there are three Autopilot options consumers can choose from:

  • Autopilot 
    • Price: Free with every new Tesla car
    • Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) – enables to follow cars and navigate through traffic.
    • Autosteer+ – With enhanced software, the car will be able to navigate more complex roads.
  • Enhanced Autopilot
    • Price: $4,000
    • Navigate on Autopilot – steers the car through highway interchanges and exits based on your programmed destination. It can also make suggestions in terms of better routes to take towards your destination.
    • Auto Lane Changes  
    • Smart Summon – allows the driver to instruct the car to maneuver from its current location such as a parking lot to your location.
    • Autopark
  • Full self-driving (FSD) suite – to be released
    • Price: $8,000
    • Includes all features of the basic Autopilot and Enhanced Autopilot plus:
    • Traffic Light and Stop Sign Recognition
    • Automatic City Driving 

Tesla’s goal is to enhance these AI features to achieve full self-driving cars in the future. By Tesla’s definition, a full self-driving capability means, 

“All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go. If you don’t say anything, the car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination or just home if nothing is on the calendar.”

We all know that any computer software may suffer some glitches. It’s no secret that there had been fatal accidents linked to Tesla’s Autopilot system failing and drivers’ complacency.

Can Tesla AutoPilot Cause an Accident?

Since 2016, there had been at least two fatal accidents while their Autopilot feature was activated. However, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) still considers Tesla to be the safest cars in the world. They have rated Tesla Model X, Model S, and Model 3 a five-star rating in overall safety.

Latest Tesla vehicle safety report summarizes the following statistics:

  • 1 accident for every 4.53 million miles driven with Autopilot engaged
  • 1 accident for every 2.27 million miles without Autopilot but with active safety features
  • 1 accident for every 1.56 million miles both without Autopilot and active safety features
  • 1 accident for every 479,000 miles on US average.

The Future of Tesla

Tesla’s future is indeed promising, but the question remains, “Will Tesla come out on top as the best car maker in the world or will Tesla underdeliver their promise and just fade into darkness?” I think Tesla is just getting started. 

A Plan to Create 1,000,000 Miles Worth of Battery Life

Currently, the longevity of the batteries equipped in a Tesla car is estimated to be around 300,000 to 500,000 miles. One of Tesla’s plans for the future is to create a battery life that could last up to 1,000,000 miles.

This mind-blowing plan could definitely bring electric cars to a whole new level. People will come buying more Tesla cars as they won’t ever be needing battery replacements. This will also make it much more beneficial for the prospect of Robotaxis,

Tesla’s Semi Engines

With Tesla taking the V6 consumer market by storm, they plan to begin moving into higher displacement engine markets. The United States is fully reliant on the trucking industry to transport goods all across the country. According to American Trucking Association, the U.S. trucking industry was worth over $700 billion in 2018. Tesla plans to invade the trucking industry with their very own semi. 

By 2021, Tesla expects to produce their first battery-operated truck called “Semi”.  Tesla claims it will result in fuel savings of at least $200,000 and a 300 to 500-mile range. Forbes estimate that the Semi can bring $2 million dollars in revenue. 

While all these are merely speculations, we can only be hopeful of what Tesla can bring more to the table.

The Future of V6 Engines

Although V6 engines are still widely used in today’s market, the increasing market share of electric engines could easily overshadow V6 engines. It may be 15 to 20 years down the line before V6 engines will be considered obsolete, no one really knows. But for now, V6 engines are here to stay – at least in the near term. 

Ferrari’s Chief Technical Officer Michael Leiters announced at their investor presentation held last 2018 that Ferrari’s outlook for the next 5 years is to create a new V6 engine with an enhanced architectural design while incorporating hybrid technology. As of this writing, Ferrari has yet to release their first model that will showcase this anticipated technology.

Meanwhile, several carmakers including Honda and Jaguar have made the decision to discontinue the use of V6 engines on some of their models and shift back to using inline four-cylinder engines. This move could lead other carmakers to follow, making V6 engine’s future market share dimmer than ever.

Why Are V6 Engines Losing Popularity?

Here are several reasons why V6 engines are losing market share to inline four-cylinder engines:

  1. Turbochargers
    • Turbochargers are typically added to smaller, less powerful engines to increase the engine’s power and efficiency. 
    • They work by driving more compressed air into the cylinders, allowing more fuel to combust, thereby, creating more power.
    • A four-cylinder engine equipped with a turbocharger can provide a similar or even more superior horsepower compared to a V6 engine.
  2. Size 
    • V6 engines are space-consuming compared to four-cylinder engines.
  3. Less fuel efficient
    • V6 engines are less fuel efficient than four-cylinder engines. 
    • Fuel efficiency is inversely correlated to the number of cylinders without taking into consideration any added configurations such as turbochargers and direct fuel injection.
  4. Vibrations
    • V6 engines tend to exhibit vibrations because of how the cylinders are positioned. 

V6 engines may be a less popular choice for many car makers nowadays, but at least sports car makers are still very much inclined with this engine. 

Conclusion

The emergence of electric cars could make internal combustion engines such as a V6 engine obsolete in the future. Our reliance on fuel engines for over a century could simply be a thing of the past. It’s no longer a question of how it will happen but more so as to when this will happen. 

What makes Tesla so appealing to consumers is how they were able to create such a disruptive innovation in the car industry. Up to this day, Tesla strives to continually improve their performance and uphold their mission to have the world transition to a more sustainable energy.

Tesla Discounts:

Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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