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1 January 2024

Do Electric Cars Have Gears?

Electric vehicles have started to become increasingly popular over the past few years.

While at first there was a considerable amount of uncertainty and skepticism revolving around them, in recent times more drivers are making the switch to electric.

Indeed, many drivers feel that it’s easier and cheaper to drive an electric car once they give it a try.

Part of this reason is attributed to the gearbox, or more accurately, the lack of.

Indeed, electric cars have a single-gear system, and hence they always had automatic transmission.

For many drivers this is one of the main advantages of driving an EV.

Do EV’s Have Gears?

Mercedes EV Interior Cabin
Mercedes EV Interior Cabin. Image credit: Pexels

Traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines come with five or six forward gears.

On the other hand, electric cars rely on single gearing.

As a result, the electric motor provides all the power and torque that is required in one rpm.

The responsiveness of the motor is controlled by the car’s onboard software.

An electric car will increase the speed directly in line with the speed at which the motor is spinning, unlike a fuel-powered car which will allow the engine to reach speeds according to the gear it’s in.

Thus, with only one gear, the driving experience is smoother and considerably more efficient.

Electric car drivers do not need to worry about shifting gears.

It’s simply a case of pressing the accelerator pedal or applying the brakes.

Advantages of an Automatic Gearbox

There are numerous advantages attributed to the single gear system in electric cars, including:

More Efficient

In an electric car, the motor controller is able to optimise the flow of electricity that reaches the motor, thereby achieving maximum efficiency.

The EV will be able to achieve better range and better overall performance.

Instant Acceleration

Thanks to the single gear system, instant acceleration is possible.

The term torque is generally used to describe the pulling power or acceleration of a car.

Electric cars pride themselves on having a high and instant torque which is achieved practically as soon as the driver puts their foot down.

One potential downside however is tyre wear.

Due to the higher weight and torque produced by EV's, they require specific EV tyres to reduce road noise, road wear and increase efficiency.

Less Moving Parts

Electric cars have a smaller number of moving parts when compared to conventional vehicles.

This is because there’s just one gear, and hence the risk of mechanical issues is greatly reduced.

There are fewer oils and lubricants involved too, and very few casings and no clutch that needs to be replaced regularly.

Less Maintenance

Electric vehicles typically do not require as much maintenance as other cars.

This is mainly linked to the fact that in EVs you will not find a clutch and components associated with it.

The smaller the number of mechanical parts, the fewer the problems that can arise as a result.

Hence the regular maintenance and servicing costs that come with traditional internal combustion engine cars will be saved with electric cars.

Regenerative Braking

In conventional cars some of the kinetic energy will be lost whenever the car brakes.

On the other hand, with electric cars, there is a regenerative braking system which will capture and recoup this energy, which would otherwise have been lost.

This greatly helps in enhancing the range.

As the motor’s current is inverted, it will charge the battery when it slows down simply by utilising the vehicle’s rolling motion.

Regenerative braking essentially slows the car down as the driver lifts off the accelerator.

At first, this can feel quite peculiar when driving an EV for the first time.

But after a short period of adjustment, learning how to drive an EV is quick and easy, and it becomes second nature in no time at all.

Electric Car Power & Torque

With the single speed gearbox, there’s a greater level of torque to be achieved from the electric motor in relation to what would have been attained from a traditional gearbox and engine.

Without the traditional transmission, there is instant torque.

This essentially means that there will be maximum power achieved virtually immediately.

In simpler terms, torque is the unit of measurement which describes pulling power.

With electric cars the acceleration or pulling power is relatively much higher than what is obtained with a conventional car, practically as soon as the driver pushes their foot to the pedal.

Do Any Electric Cars Have Manual Transmission?

No, all electric cars have an automatic transmission.

There are currently no electric cars on the market which offer a manual transmission, simply because such cars do not need a gearbox.

The single gear works in reverse too.

Hence it is better than a conventional automatic gearbox in this aspect as well.

The main idea behind electric cars was to be as simple as possible, and based on this such cars are more efficient and run more smoothly as well.

Their simple nature means that there’s no room for manual transmission for electric cars as it would simply go against their whole concept.

Do Any Electric Cars Have More Than One Gear?

Porsche Taycan EV
Porsche Taycan EV

While the vast majority of EVs have one gear, there are some which have two.

The Porsche Taycan is one example of an EV that has a two-speed transmission.

This second gear is added simply to make the driving experience more exhilarating in high-performance EVs.

For most drivers there is no need to hit certain high speed bands, and so everyday EV models will have a single gear system.

Hence, apart from a handful of EVs, the vast majority have a single gear system.


Electric cars are undoubtedly a significant improvement on fossil fuel-powered cars.

They are so much cleaner and more efficient.

And with the numerous benefits attributed to their single-gear system, there is no denying that they are set to become increasingly popular as they become more commonplace and accessible.