Electric Cars & CC Numbers? (Power Output Explained)

The power output of an engine should always be taken into consideration.

Shopping for an electric car can be different.

The terminology will change, so the CC numbers used will not be the same when you begin looking at electric versus traditional gas cars.

Here’s what you should know.

You might also be interested in knowing why electric cars have more torque than gas-driven cars.

How Electric Cars Use CC Numbers:

CC numbers stand for the engine’s size in cubic centimeters. This measurement is used for gas cars. Electric cars use motors, not engines. As such, their size and output are measured in BHP, which is brake horsepower.

Make sure not to confuse the CC number with the CCC numbers on trailers. Here’s an explanation of what CCC means on a trailer.

Do Electric Cars Use CC Numbers?

Electric cars don’t use CC numbers because of the way that the engine/motor works.

CC has to do with the air displacement within the engine, which is measured in cubic centimeters. The space within the pistons allows the air to flow.

Electric engines don’t have pistons. They don’t require any kind of air to flow.

As such, electric motors are able to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy through the rotation of the shaft.

While electric engines do have horsepower, they don’t have CC.

There are other measurements that are more important in electric vehicles.

This includes:

  • BHP (Brake horsepower)
  • kW (kilowatts)
  • and hp (horsepower)

How is Motor-Size Measured on Electric Vehicles?

The motor size of an electric vehicle is important. It’s what tells of the power and what the EV is capable of on the open road.

Kilowatts (kW) are used to identify the size of a motor in an electric vehicle.

The average EVs will use motors that range from 40,000-watt to 60,000-watt,

AC and DC motors can be used inside electric vehicles. What is used depends on the brand as well as the technical features that are desired.

DC motors are simple and affordable. The motor size will be smaller, often around 30,000 watts. For short periods of time, they can be brought into overdrive. This means that they can also deliver five times the rated horsepower.

With overdrive, it can add a needed burst to your acceleration.

There are actually several reasons why AC motors are best for electric vehicles.

The only thing you’ll have to worry about is too much heat building up inside of the motor.

AC motors have three phases.

These are most commonly used in the electric vehicles on the market. A regen feature also allows power to be delivered back to the battery when braking.

The motor size is critical, but so is the battery. Most batteries used today are still lacking the sophisticated technology needed to mainstream EVs.

Lead-acid batteries are heavy, bulky, expensive, and only have a limited capacity. That means that no matter how powerful your engine may be, it is limited by how many miles it can travel before it needs to be recharged.

How is Electric Car Power Measured?

Often, people assume that an elect car isn’t going to be as powerful. The reason is that the engine’s technology strays away from the internal combustion engine.

Without internal combustion, can a car still be powerful? Of course.

The power refers to the mechanical energy power output. It is measured by looking at the rotation speed (rpm) and torque (Nm).

By looking at rotation speed and the pulling power, it explains how vehicles with the same power output can vary dramatically.

Sports cars and large trucks may have the same motor output, but the torque can change things up, allowing the sports car to outperform the truck.

The output of a motor is carefully tested, which means that the manufacturers can’t use just any number in order to sell a car.

The mechanical power of an electric vehicle is calculated with a mathematical equation. You’ll see watts or kilowatts, which is obtained by multiplying the RPM by the torque.

You don’t have to run any of the tests on your own or engage in complicated calculations. Instead, your vehicle manual will tell you the output. And when you want to make conversions, there are websites that will do the match for you.

Do Electric Cars Have More Horsepower?

Horsepower is one of the best ways to address the performance and overall power output of a vehicle. You always hear about the hp of an engine or motor. Generally, it’s an easy way to make some quick comparisons between vehicles.

The kilowatts of an electric engine translates to horsepower.

The real question is, do electric cars have more horsepower than standard gas-powered vehicles? It depends on what the motor output actually is.

When you look at the amount of horsepower in your typical gas-powered sedan, it’s going to have around 200 horsepower. Meanwhile, the amount of horsepower in an electric vehicle may only be around 100 horsepower.

A perfect example is to look at Toyota models. A base Camry has 202 hp while a base Prius has 121 hp.

If you’re looking solely at the number, electric cars have less horsepower.

The common misconception is that electric vehicles are, therefore, less powerful. That’s not true.

Electric cars operate more efficiently, so it actually uses more of its horsepower. The fewer moving parts add to the overall efficiency.

If horsepower is important to you, some electric cars may surprise you:

  • Hyundai NEXO has 161 hp
  • Honda Clarity has 161 hp
  • BMW i3 120Ah has 170 hp
  • Chevy Bolt EV LT has 200 hp
  • Hyundai Kona EV Ultimate has 201 hp

Is Electric Horsepower the Same as Gas Horsepower?

One of the best ways to compare the way that horsepower is used in an electric vehicle versus a gas one is to look at what the US Department of Energy says.

They explain that “EVs convert over 77 percent of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 12 percent – 30 percent of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.

Horsepower is the same, in that it is the power produced by the engine (or motor, in the case of an EV). The measurement is passed on the power that is needed to move 550 pounds by a single foot in one second.

Horsepower helps to define performance.

Engines/motors with more horsepower and more torque will be able to accelerate faster – ideal if you need to tow a vehicle or you will be getting on a lot of on-ramps of freeways.

The difference with an EV is that the power is delivered differently.

Horsepower is often referred to as kilowatt because of the measure of electricity. For quick comparison purposes, one kilowatt is equal to approximately 1.34 horsepower.

An EV doesn’t need to build up power. It’s already there. As such, it’s going to be able to maximize horsepower more effectively. It’s why you can’t rely solely on the hp to make comparisons.

You don’t need the massive horsepower figure that you have come to expect in a gas-powered vehicle. The efficiency is better in an EV, so vehicles can provide a similar level of performance with approximately half the amount of horsepower as that of its gas-powered counterparts.

What is the Engine Displacement (CC) Equivalent of Electric Vehicles?

It’s common to look for the CC or engine displacement of a vehicle.

Since electric vehicles operate without internal combustion, the CC measurement simply doesn’t apply.

What does apply is the measurement of BHP.

Forget about what is in the engine compartment. Instead, BHP looks at what the vehicle’s horsepower is at the wheels. You’ll find that the BHP is a more accurate measurement than CC, especially when you want to determine performance capabilities.

Other Terms to Be Familiar With

In addition to finding out the CC equivalent, there are some other terms that are commonly used to discuss electric cars and what they are capable of.

Electric tension: This is measured in volts. The voltage measures the pressure of the power source.

Battery capacity: This is measured in kWh, which identifies how long the battery will run in between charges.

Charging level: There are three levels of charging, which can determine how long it will take for a battery to reach a full charge. Level 1 can take about 35 hours, Level 2 can take about eight, while Level 3 can take about an hour.

Final Thoughts

Unless you’re into all of the engineerings that goes into making an electric vehicle run, it all comes down to performance. You can’t simply look at the HP, the kW, or the BHP and expect to know how the vehicle will operate.

The numbers will only help you to gain perspective over other models. You can compare them all to see which motor is larger or more powerful.

There are other factors at play, including the type of battery and the weight of the car. As such, the best way to find out how the numbers translate is to take an EV out for a test drive.

It will make it easier to test out the acceleration, speed, and handling.


Understanding the power output of an electric motor

Electric Cars: Key Terms Explained

How Does Horsepower Figure Into Electric Cars?

How Electric Cars Work

Top 10 High Horsepower Electric Cars

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