Do Electric Cars Have Pistons? (And What Do They Use If Not)

Are you considering purchasing an electric car but are wondering about the engine? Or perhaps you have just ditched the fuel life for good and are curious about the internal combustion in your car?

Or maybe you just want to know a little more about electric cars before we all end up driving them and charging them at home overnight? 

Whatever the reason may be that brought you here today, we are here to answer your questions! Electric cars are still a fairly new creation, leaving many of us with many questions about them. One of these is whether electric cars have pistons or not.

We are so used to our cars having pistons and other components that require oil lubrication for the car to work; it’s natural to wonder what an electric car has and how it moves. 

So we are here today to provide you with the answers that you need. Keep reading to find out if an electric car has pistons and what they use if not! 

What is a piston?

Before we dive in, let’s have a quick recap in the room for those who need it. A piston is a component in a cylindrical engine. Its job is to move inside the cylinder to keep the engine moving.

The combustion or compression forces produced moves the piston, and as a result, the engine and your car moves. These forces are transferred to the crankshaft, where it converts the linear motion of the piston into a rotational force, powering your engine.

Does that sound like a lot of mechanical jargon? In layman’s terms, it’s a part of the engine that we see in most vehicles these days.

Pistons and other components in the engines are what have been used in fuel-based cars for generations, and it’s no wonder that we find ourselves questioning whether a piston has a place in an eclectic car. 

Now that we have covered what a piston is, let’s move on to see if they are in electric cars. 

Do Electric Cars Have Pistons?

Let’s get straight into it! No, electric cars do not have pistons. We are used to pistons in our regular cars that require oil lubrication for the engine and car to move down the road. But electric cars operate differently, and there are no pistons in electric cars. 

Now you might be wondering, can I add a piston to my electric car? The answer to that is no. A piston is not needed on an electric car, nor could it be added to the engine of an electric car.

It wouldn’t add anything to the car’s performance, and if anything, it would just make a mess and a lot of work for a mechanic. 

By now, you must be on the edge of your seat, wondering how on earth an electric car manages to move without the use of pistons. So let’s move on and find out what an electric car has if it doesn’t have pistons. 

What Do Electric Cars Use Instead Of Pistons?

Instead of pistons, or a traditional cylindrical engine, an electric car has an electric motor. It works using copper coils and magnets that start the engine and allow the car to move.

Electric motors are possible thanks to Nikolas Tesla, who created the induction motor, which has become an industry-standard in electric cars. 

These motors are lighter and more compact, using a three-phase alternating current. It’s made up of two parts: the stator and the rotor. Let’s look at these a little closer to help you understand the electric motor better. 


The stator is the stationary part of an induction motor made with high-grade alloy steel lamination to reduce current losses. It features the outer frame, stator core, and stator winding. 

The stator core carries an alternating magnetic flux that reduces hysteresis, and the stator winding features a three-phase winding. These induction motors allow the speed to depend on the frequency of the three-phase supply. 


Next up, we have the rotor, which is the rotating part of an induction motor. The current is induced by transformer action from the rotating magnetic field and features the same durable construction as the stator. 

The rotor is essentially a collection of laminated conducting bars short-circuited by end rings. The rotor is either a wound or squirrel-cage type, depending on the engine. These induction motors are cost-effective and reliable, making them a fantastic fit for electric cars. 

Their brushless design makes these motors incredibly low-maintenance, too, with far fewer parts than a piston motor. And with fewer parts, there are fewer parts to break, meaning fewer repairs (hopefully)!

So that’s the engine, but what gives it power? 

Battery Pack 

It’s the battery pack that breathes life and power into an electric car. Lithium-ion batteries are typically used to power electric cars. Their lightweight design and high energy density make them a wonderful fit for these cars. 

There has even been research conducted recently that suggests lithium-ion batteries could make internal combustion engines obsolete! And with new batteries being created that could fully charge an electric car in ten minutes, the future does seem to be here now! 

You also have a controller in your electric car that supplies power to the electric motor depending on the pressure applied to the accelerator pedal. The controller coordinates the engine and battery power, determining how much is needed and delivering the exact amount. 

Final Word 

And just like that, we have come to the end of our electric car journey today. As you can see, electric cars do not have pistons. Instead, the electric motor comprises copper coils and magnets that work to keep the car moving.

The electric induction motor seems far cleaner and easier to maintain than a combustion engine, and it’s no wonder why more and more of us are opting for electric cars. Was this article enough to tempt you to join team EV? 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *