From Maté Pretrány's recent FP article:

…Renault's brand new air-cooled electric motor was made entirely on the French side. It's a synchronous unit with a wound rotor delivering 88 horsepower and 162 ft lb of torque…

The continued electrification of the automobile means that, in addition to the new gizmos constantly being added, the fundamental components are changing as well. If some sort of time machine brought Jalops from the 30s, 70s, and today together, they would all be able to have a pretty informed conversation about their cars. Sure, lots of things have changed in that time— emissions regulations, electronic fuel injection, advanced computer driving aids—but the fundamental principles of a vehicle's operation remain the same.

They would probably all be able to talk about things like pistons, cranks, compression ratios, valvetrains and braking systems. The stuff that's changed would take a little explaining, but with the major exception of computerized control systems, the principles of many of our advancements would be accessible to our 30s opponaut. Returning to the quote from Maté's article, I only have a vague notion of what the bolded parts mean. Sure, the principles of electric motors go back to the 19th century, but after the internal combustion engine became king, they were relegated to accessory roles like starters and window motors.

In other words, they became a fairly minor part of gearhead culture. As long as you could buy a cheap new window motor it was something you really didn't need to understand. Nowadays, electric motors are moving our vehicles, contributing to braking, and the method of storing the energy that propels the car is completely different. I have a decent foundation of the principles of electromagnetism, but it's almost insignificant compared to my knowledge of conventional automotive engines. The future is upon us though, and the minutiae of electric motor designs will become ever more significant in understanding the variety of cars we'll see in the coming decades.


So who's going to join me in making an effort to learn more about electric motors, batteries, and the amazing software that ties them all together?