Do electric cars have a clutch?

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Electric cars do not have a clutch and only have one gear. Quite shocking, right!? Electric cars use an electric motor to power the car, whilst internal combustion engines (ICE) power gas cars. There is no need to have a clutch or gears in an electric car as an electric motor has enough torque within its speed range to comfortably reach speeds you would require for a car.

Electric motors deliver power and torque very differently to internal combustion engines. ICE have a very limited torque within a speed range, this means the ICE engines aren’t very efficient with the different speeds you can drive a car. Electric motors, on the other hand, are a lot more efficient and have a much larger speed range, therefore they don’t require gears or a clutch to reach different speeds.


Internal Combustion Engine Electric Motor
Speed Range (RPM) 2000 – 4000 0 – 18000

As you can see from the table above ICE engines are not very good at low speeds especially when a stationary car starts to move and will begin at 0 RPM. That’s why a clutch and gears are required with ICE engines but not required for Electric motors.

Torque is basically a twisting force, for example when you use a spanner to tighten a nut you are “torquing” the nut.

As you can guess, there is no need for an electric car to have a transmission either. There is no reason why a typical electric car could not work with a clutch and gears, but it’s simply not necessary. Adding gears would cause complexity and additional costs which are not needed. Electric motors don’t stall like internal combustion engines. With internal combustion engines, you need to use a clutch to start from a standstill, whilst electric motors don’t stall so you don’t need a clutch.

Example of gears in an electric car

In the electric racing series known as “Formula E”, racing teams have implemented gears to have a competitive edge. For racing purposes every second counts and to increase the efficiency of the power delivered from the battery via the motor, all teams have a transmission. Some teams have implemented a 5-speed gearbox, whilst other teams are only using a 2-speed gearbox.

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