Skip to main content

EVs vs. gas-powered vehicles: Which is really faster?

When people compare electric and gas-powered vehicles, they often turn to price first. Many people assume there’s a big difference in fuel and maintenance costs, but this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, Energy Sage conducted a price comparison survey and revealed a small difference of a few hundred dollars. In the rare case, a manufacturer hasn’t hit its production quota for tax breaks, you might save $7,500 (but big names like Tesla have already hit this mark).

Gas-Powered Vehicle



Tank Energy storage Battery
Pump Energy replacement Charger
Engine Mobilizes vehicle Electric Motor
Carburetor Acceleration and speed Controller
Alternator Powers accessories DC/DC Converter
Powers AC motor DC/AC Converter
Smog Controls Lowers emissions

The adapted table above shows the comparable functions in EVs vs. gas-powered vehicles. You’ll find there are many similar components, each of which comes with its maintenance costs and routines.

Even with that, you save on fuel costs in the near future, but you’ll end up paying out in regular vehicle upkeep. The most significant deciding factor should not be cost, but performance. Read on to discover what makes EVs tick and how they compare in speed. You’ll know soon enough which vehicle type is genuinely faster.

Initial acceleration

The zero to 60 mph you hear about for race cars and high-end sports cars applies to regular vehicles, too. How quickly a vehicle starts and builds up speed is based on many factors. With EVs and gas cars, this varies drastically based on ignition sequences.

Electric motors don’t ignite like gasoline engines. Because of this, they’re quick to start and exceed gas engines in the “zero to 60” category. Gasoline engines must first route through the transmission, resulting in drivetrain loss. The time needed for this exchange delays ignition and initial acceleration, making EV motors faster.

Streamlined torque and power

If you’re wondering what else makes cars move so fast, it’s not just the zero to 60 mph initial acceleration either. Horsepower plays a large part in a vehicle’s overall speed. A few things that make up horsepower include:

  • Torque: measurement of the force that can cause an object to rotate about an axis, such as a wheel on an axle
  • Revolutions per minute: a measure of how fast any machine is operating using crankshaft rotations
  • Speed: a measure of how fast the vehicle is in motion at a given moment

Horsepower in electric vehicles

For electric vehicles, there’s a little more math involved when calculating horsepower. Due to its simplified acceleration, you multiply the speed by torque by RPM. A quick Google or peek at your vehicle’s owner manual can give you this information, too.

EVs have simplified torque and instant power, which results in quicker initial acceleration. Their inherent efficiency increases speed and overall agility, resulting in speed without prolonged power. Unlike gas-powered vehicles, EVs get you from point A to B without the same sustained performance.

Horsepower in gas vehicles

If you want to race a Tesla against a Ferrari, Porsche, or Lamborghini, consider otherwise. The initial acceleration will put you ahead without the staying power. EV horsepower falls short compared to gas vehicles. Where electric cars have the get-up-and-go factor, gas cars can outlast.

Their performance power lies in their ability to maintain high speeds and acceleration for a more extended time period. The higher RPM and speed provided via a transmission give gas-powered vehicles the necessary power to pull ahead.

Ev charging outside of a home
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Transmissions make the difference

When it comes to EVs vs. gas-powered vehicles, the most significant difference lies in the transmission. Aside from the nonexistent transmission in EVs, there’s the notable speed difference without one. On the flip side, the consequence of no transmission is less horsepower. With less horsepower, your speed drops in sustainability and power.

As demand for EVs increases, electric vehicle manufacturers will need to adapt. Considering the innovative and adaptive nature of EVs, it’s more than likely that these manufacturers will create a solution. In fact, Tesla’s upcoming electric SUV, alongside the Nissan Ariya EV crossover, proves their recognition of invention’s necessity. These companies are both attempting to solve this “problem” in their own way.

If an electric transmission is developed, likely by Tesla — as Elon Musk has a constant drive for innovation — electric vehicles may soon beat out gas-powered vehicles entirely.

Faster isn’t always better — yet

EV horsepower may be less than gas-powered vehicles, but as the electric vehicle industry continues to grow, this is less and less set in stone. With the global shift toward alternative fuel, both in consumer and manufacturer’s interest, innovation continues.

Electric motors allow for better integration with smart tech and driver-assist features. As consumer demand for convenience and connectivity rises, so will the demand for motors that accommodate these wants.

Editors' Recommendations

Amanda Hoyer
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Degreed in Psychology and English, Amanda fell into copywriting and blogging when she discovered an innate gift for narrative…
7 types of construction site accidents and how to avoid them
Construction worker falling from ladder

Construction site accidents are unavoidable. Hard physical labor mixed with heavy machinery and hazardous materials all combine to dramatically increase workplace risks. However, if you're in the construction industry, you were well aware of these risks when you signed up. Workplace hazards come with skilled trades that you don't have if you sit behind a desk. 

Over the past few decades, accidents in construction have become less frequent thanks to safety regulations and systems put in place by OSHA. Also, construction personal protective equipment has improved as technology has advanced.

Read more
The complete guide for building a roof truss
Roof truss system on new roof

The roof of a building is the most critical part of any structure, as it protects the building from the elements. Furthermore, roof trusses are one of the most essential structural parts of roofs. The roof truss is the framework of the roof and has become one of the most reliable and structurally secure methods to build a roof, given they carry the weight of the frame and walls of a home. 

Additionally, trusses help prevent walls from any structural bending or flexing over time. There are many types of trusses on the market in which the truss can ultimately determine the shape of the roof once built. Therefore, let's explore all the methods of how to build roof trusses.

Read more
5 types of heavy construction equipment and when to use them 
Two ethnic construction professionals

Being in construction for years or as a startup can be challenging and lucrative. Having the right heavy equipment can make a big difference in how fast and effective you are. Given all the heavy construction machinery out there, be sure to buy and take care of the right pieces of equipment you need to operate. Not doing so can set your construction business back and give the competition a leg up on you. Without the proper equipment, it stands to reason you will have a hard time completing jobs. Even with the right equipment in place, never take your eye off the need for safety.

Construction job injuries, unfortunately, happen all too often. This is oftentimes due to cutting corners, not taking care of equipment, and so on. Such injuries can range from minor to serious and even lead to deaths at times. Mishaps can be falls, equipment malfunction or improper use, electrocutions, and more. That said, always be safe on the job and review your equipment often to make sure it is properly working.

Read more