Everything You Need to Know About How Tesla Cars Work

Everything You Need to Know About How Tesla Cars Work

For over a decade, Tesla has emerged as a frontrunner in technology for electric vehicles. Tesla cars function on an elaborate electrical system that proves much more efficient than any combustion engine found in classic cars. Though it might seem extremely complex at first, the process is fairly simple and straightforward. 

Tesla cars function with the help of a high-tech battery pack and the necessary additional support systems within, including 

  • Induction Motor
  • Power Supply and Inverter
  • Dual Motor
  • Battery Pack
  • Gear Box
  • Charging Port and Supercharger

All components of Tesla cars’ electrical systems work together to give Tesla the reputation it has earned today: a company that manufactures the safest, smoothest, most efficient cars in the world. 

There are other electric cars out there, but Tesla has undoubtedly made its place in the market known. As well-known as Tesla has become, the cars’ actual functionality is a bit of a mystery to many. If you’re interested in how a Tesla works, keep reading. 

How Tesla Cars Work

When broken down piece by piece, Tesla cars are easier to understand. Next up is more information on each of the different puzzle pieces that fit together to make a Tesla run. 

  • What makes up the electrical system of a Tesla, and how the components function
  • Why Tesla cars are better than traditional, gas-powered cars
  • Additional electrical advantages of Tesla cars
  • Additional features that make Tesla a superior vehicle manufacturer

What Makes Up the Electrical System of a Tesla

Induction MotorConsisting of a stator and rotor, this is the receiver of power from the battery pack that uses a magnetic field to operate.
Battery PackOver 7,000 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that provide enough power for a Tesla car. This battery pack produces direct current (DC) power.
InverterTurns the battery pack’s DC power into a working force, alternate current (AC) power.
Gear BoxConnects the induction motor and inverter to process the electrical power to turn the drive train and wheels.
Power InputThree-phase power input that helps convert the DC power to AC power between the induction motor and inverter. Helps the motor turn smoothly without the help of a speed-varying transmission.
Charging PortThe car’s outlet connects to a supercharger or at-home charger to resupply power to the battery pack.

The components of Tesla’s system are unlike anything seen in a regular car. The undercarriage of Tesla cars is efficient, powerful, and tough. The power source from which the Tesla runs on electricity consists of a large battery connected to an induction motor and inverter, springing from the original idea of Nikola Tesla, for whom the company gets its name. 

Here are a few more interesting things to keep in mind regarding Tesla’s electrical system:

  • When learning about the battery pack that powers a Tesla car, it is easy to compare it to how a smartphone works; a rechargeable battery that powers the phone and quickly replenishes its source of power with a quick charge. 
  • These battery packs are not just useful for electric cars; they provide added protection from impact while keeping an extremely stable center of gravity, which will be discussed later in the article.
  • The sophisticated materials used to make up the components of a Tesla car take up less space, allowing for efficiency and fewer maintenance requirements.
  • As you will learn in the next section, the induction motor is responsible for much more than simply turning the car’s wheels.

Induction Motor

To start, Tesla cars are equipped with an induction motor. Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) designed the first induction motor that functioned with a magnetic field that rotated the motor. Tesla’s creation is regarded as “one of the top 10 greatest discoveries of all time.”

You have probably heard of Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla. It is no secret that this man’s intelligence, along with his partners and other Tesla employees, is the foundation on which Tesla has built itself up in the past few years. Tesla is constantly fine-tuning their products to get the best results possible.

The Tesla company used this original induction motor as a starting point, rather than putting the same idea into their cars. Tesla is known for its technological advances, and with their expertise, they seemed to have perfected the new and improved induction motor.

How the induction motor in a Tesla car works is quite simple. The two parts of the motor, the rotor, and the stator, work together to turn the wheels. Inside the rotor are several short-circuited conducting parts. 

When a power supply is attached to the induction motor, a magnetic field is generated that then rotates the rotor bars inside the induction motor. How fast the motor rotates depends on the frequency of the current pulsing from the power supply.

The induction motor functions to make a Tesla car work do not require a speed transmission for assistance because the induction motor can rotate up to 18,000 rpm’s independent. 

This allows for maximum efficiency and no additional components attached to the drive wheel. With these advancements, a Tesla car owner is much less likely to deal with engine or transmission problems.

Power Supply and Inverter

You might wonder how this induction motor can work with the battery pack’s DC power. The power supply is an AC power supply, which gives the necessary results when connected to an inverter. 

Here is how it works:

  • Since the battery back’s power supply is a direct current, it must be changed into an alternating current power to make the induction motor work correctly. 
  • The inverter is essentially the middleman connecting the battery pack and the induction motor. 
  • The inverter gathers the DC power from the battery back and transforms it into AC power for the induction motor. 
  • The inverter can also alter the AC power wavelength, which changes the speed produced by the magnetic field in the induction motor.
  • The change in speed causes the rotor bars to rotate at varying speeds; thus, no additional transmission pieces are required.

Dual Motor

To add to this effect, Tesla now offers a dual motor feature on all their models that works better than a single induction motor. 

With one motor and the front and one in the back, the front wheels and rear wheels have independent power sources that allow for even more efficient functionality. This feature is one of the more recent technological adaptations put into play with Tesla’s ever-improving company.

Along with the dual motors, Tesla’s use of an induction motor and the parts connected to it make it an ideal unit for better traction, handling, and overall stability.

Battery Pack

Now, to the battery pack, an extremely innovative design was created by Tesla for Tesla. The battery packs in the bottom of Tesla cars are key components that separate Tesla cars from other vehicles. The simple use of Lithium-ion batteries has since been found by Tesla to work exceptionally well in their cars, providing immense power.

A Tesla car battery pack consists of sixteen batteries, totaling over 7,000 of these lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, this battery pack’s weight creates quite an impressive center of gravity for Tesla cars, allowing them to have excellent handling and structural stability. The battery packs are also useful in the event of a crash because of their structural support.

Tesla car battery packs are kept from overheating with the passage of glycol coolant through the battery cells. As you might know, glycol is the main part of products such as antifreeze, so the use of something like glycol keeps the battery packs from overheating and damage while sustaining each battery’s lifespan. 

Since the battery packs in Tesla cars allow their power to be recharged, this provides many advantages for an electric car. First off, you will not have to worry about refueling a gas tank so often. 

Also, the rechargeable batteries do not require an alternator. Many problems with combustion engine cars start in the car battery or alternator. The alternator charges the battery in a classic car, so you can avoid many recurring problems without needing an alternator.

Gear Box

After learning the simple yet efficient functions of each component of a Tesla car, now is the time for seeing how these electrically powered pieces work together to move the car. After the power has been supplied from the battery pack to the rest of the Tesla system, a gearbox rotates the wheels.

Attached to the induction motor is a gearbox. The gearbox consists of a single transmission setup because the induction motor is sufficient enough to rotate quickly on its own. The connection of the gearbox to the induction motor works quite efficiently. 

When the magnetic field produced by the power supply rotates the induction motor, the gearbox continues the connection. With only three gears, the gearbox rotates its components to rotate the drive chain, which then rotates the wheels.

With the three-gear gearbox, Tesla owners again avoid another common problem that traditional car owners might face: trouble with the transmission system. 

The simple yet sophisticated design of the gearbox in Tesla cars reduces a problem inside with the gears. Besides, space is continually preserved without additional supporting parts for a combustion engine and its requirements.

Charging Port and Supercharger

On the back of a Tesla car is the charging port, where the car receives its replenishment. Tesla encourages purchasing an at-home charging station, which can be useful for a charge whenever a Tesla car is not used. 

However, there are also thousands of supercharger stations placed in heavily trafficked areas around the world.

Charging a Tesla car is an extremely simple process. When your battery pack is low, you have to plug the charger into the charging port, and a battery pack can charge up to 50% full in half an hour. 

There are different lights on the charging port to show the different states of the battery pack. The lighting system is an easy way to determine the charging progress.

On the Tesla website, the different colors on the charging port mean the following:

WhiteThe charge port door is open. Your car is ready to charge, but the connector is not inserted, or the latch is released, and the connector is ready to be removed.
BlueYour car detects that a connector has been plugged in
Blinking BlueYour car is communicating with the connector. It is preparing to charge, or a charging session scheduled to begin at a specified future time.
Blinking GreenCharging is in progress as your car approaches a full charge, the frequency of the blinking slows.
Solid GreenCharging is complete.
Solid AmberThe connector is not fully plugged in. Realign the connector to the charge port and insert it fully.
Blinking AmberYour car is charging at a reduced current (AC charging only).
RedA fault is detected, and charging has stopped. Check the instrument panel or touchscreen for a fault message.

How Teslas Function Differently Than Other Electric Cars

Tesla is not the only company that produces electric cars, but they are surely the most well-known. Here are some well-known names in cars that also make electric models:

  • Jaguar I-Pace
  • Kia Niro
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Chevy Bolt
  • Audi e-tron

The biggest advantage of Tesla cars to other electric cars is that an empty Tesla battery can be fully recharged in around an hour, whereas other electric cars take much more time to do so. A quick charging battery is quite the advantage because, in an instance, such as being on a road trip, it is likely that you are not going to want to stop for longer than an hour on your way to your destination.

Another place where Tesla models beat other electric cars is with the amount of cargo space. Even with a sedan such as the Tesla Model S or Model 3, these cars have the same cargo space as a common SUV. Most other electric car industry manufacturers focus too much on constructing a compact car with little storage room, which leads to the next advantage.

Because Tesla cars are typically larger than their electric competitors, Teslas are safer. Most models have earned the highest safety ratings in the world. With all the extra cargo space, Tesla cars have a lot of crumple room for impacts and car crashes, which is helpful because you would rather the front or back of your car squished rather than the area you are sitting in.

The final of some of the most prominent advantages of Tesla cars over other electric cars is their price. Not all Tesla cars are cheaper than every other electric car on the market. Still, for the safety and technology that supports Tesla cars, you will be getting much more compensation for the investment.

Why an Electric Car Is More Efficient Than A Combustion Engine

One of the main reasons Tesla has had such great success is its ability to appeal to so many people, ranging from those concerned about the environment to those who want to save money in the long run. 

Tesla has found a way to produce efficient cars at an affordable price. Below is a list of a few of the ways Tesla’s electric cars far surpass a traditional combustion engine’s abilities.

Environmentally Friendly

Perhaps the most popular attraction to Tesla cars is that they are fully electric, which means no gasoline intake. As a result, Tesla cars do not emit harmful pollutants into the environment. Because they are not pumping gas through their systems and are using electrical energy, Tesla cars are extremely quiet.

In addition to its dedication to the environment, Tesla also frequently promotes solar panels’ installation in one’s home. In the instance of powering your home with reusable energy and your car, this makes one’s contribution to the environment all the more useful. 

Preserving this reusable energy makes for great changes in the industry of vehicles today. With an almost completely silent car that emits no harmful particles into the air, Tesla perfected this electric use’s efficiency. As Tesla continues to update all of its technology, great achievements are being reached for the sake of all people as a whole.


Another reason Tesla cars are the most popular of all-electric vehicles is because of their affordability. Despite the technological advances necessary to make these cars as great as they are, they are not as expensive as one might think. 

This is not to suggest that you can purchase a brand new Tesla car for only $10,000, but for the price of a Tesla, you are getting a lot more bang for your buck than you would from a traditional, luxury-style car that cost the same amount.

To add to Tesla cars’ cost-efficiency, they save quite a bit of money in the long run, particularly if you have an at-home charging station. Without the struggle of having to fill up a Tesla car with gas every week, an at-home charging station, despite its initial cost, will be another small cost on the electric bill.

By powering Tesla cars with renewable energy, it is both cost-efficient and environmentally safe for the consumer. Without doing anything out of the ordinary, you are both taking care of your wallet and the whole world.

Low Maintenance

Several factors play a role in cars with combustion engines, and the more working parts, the higher chance of trouble with those parts. Tesla cars have substantially fewer parts that power the car, so one is much less likely to run into car trouble.

One of how combustion engines are far less efficient in their functioning process involves the engine itself. When a combustion motor is running, much of its motion is vertical, and as is obvious, a vertical motion will not turn the wheel train. 

As a result, other factors must be added to the engine, including a large transmission piece to help turn the mechanical motion rotationally. Tesla cars do not have to function with any of these additional parts, and therefore, will require much less maintenance in the long run. 

Other Tesla Features and How they Work 

Aside from the induction engine’s function, battery pack, and other similar aspects, Tesla cars are equipped with high-end technology to make every part of driving safer and easier. Things that might not typically be considered when buying or driving a new car are also a top priority for Tesla. 

Regenerative Braking

The first additional advantage of a Tesla car’s components is its ability to work a regenerative braking system. When you take your foot off the acceleration pedal in a Tesla, the wheels’ role, drive train, and induction motor are reversed. 

The electricity to power the wheels’ rotation is transferred backward in the system, so as the wheels turn, power goes back through the drive train and into the induction motor, where the motor acts as a generator. 

The inverter and induction motor work together to produce an electrical power higher than and opposite to that of the electricity rotating the drive train. As a result, the wheels slow down.

Furthermore, this process preserves the energy that would have been used to push the car forward, sending it back through the entire system and into the battery pack, another subtle yet useful accomplishment on Tesla’s part to produce the most efficient cars available. 

Of course, there is still a brake pedal in Tesla cars for more immediate slowing or stopping during this whole process.

Touch Screen

The tablet-style touch screen of Tesla cars is yet another notable feature that has gained them popularity. Before getting into certain features, perhaps the screen itself’s biggest technological advancement is that it can self-updates that improve functionality.

The touch screen allows for media features like YouTube and Netflix, and some other games, great for leisure and entertainment. On the other hand, it provides much more useful information: weather updates, a navigation system, mileage reports, and so much more. 

On top of that, the touch screen provides the controls needed for autopilot and cruise control, along with information on the nearest Supercharger stations. You will not have any trouble finding your way around this screen, as in some models, it can be as long as 17 inches.

Over the Air Updates

As mentioned above, Tesla cars come with the technology that allows for their system to be updated automatically. This is quite the step in innovation, because no matter the model of the Tesla car, new features can be installed. 

Any navigational fixes, autopilot improvements, and other general changes can be put into your Tesla car without having to take it into the shop and pay for any additional charges. 

This installation process is another aspect that makes Tesla cars quite similar to a standard smartphone. Think of all the benefits you reap from owning a smartphone, and install those advantages in a fully functional, top-tier vehicle.

How Teslas Work vs. Regular Cars

There are plenty of people out there who believe Tesla’s are far superior to regular cars regarding how they function. Below is a comparison of how Tesla’s work vs. classic cars, so you can decide which is best. 

 Tesla Car Traditional Car
Electric vs. GasFully electricNo stopping for gas means saving timeNo out of pocket gas costsIn-home charging stations available for installationRequires gas plus the time and money needed to supply itAdds time and money
Engine Compact, smoothly working system of partsFewer pieces of the puzzle mean less to breakCombustion engine takes up more spaceRequires more working parts to function properly
Advanced TechnologySophisticated parts that do the job better as opposed to just more partsAdditional parts such as transmission system, alternator, battery, and vertical pistonsMore parts often mean more problems
Buying ProcessThe buying process is completely onlineYou do not have to deal with a car salesperson The buying process is typically in-personNot everyone loves car shopping or talking to strangers in general
BatteriesThe battery pack provides more potential range of miles than the amount of gas required for a traditional carMiles per gallon do not usually compare well with electric abilities
Safety Most components of a Tesla, including the working parts system, add to the effect of how safe Tesla carsTeslas safety technology is advanced in stability, handling, crumple space, and more.Working parts system is not specifically designed to help in the event of reckless driving or impact
TechnologyTechnological advances in all systems of Tesla cars improve your experience on the roadTraditional cars are not as heavily-packed with the technology available through Tesla

Final Thoughts

When the inner workings of Tesla car components are simplified, it is easy to see how a Tesla car works are the most efficient process available. 

Tesla cars hold to their reputation because they work great and sell at an affordable price. The additional technological features are a major plus, too.

Tesla is indeed a leader in both the tech and vehicle industry, and learning how they function is just as interesting as learning about all of their other cool features.

Tesla Discounts:


The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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