Do Electric Cars Run On AC Or DC?

Fuel costs are rising, and the ecological impact of fuel combustion has been raising serious concerns for a while now. Electric vehicles are a great alternative to non-eco-friendly fuel sources. This article will explore whether an electric car runs on ACOpens in a new tab. or DCOpens in a new tab. and what the difference is between both kinds of motors.

Electric cars can run on both AC and DC.  AC (Alternative Current) operates on 240 volts of alternating current and is used by manufacturers to develop the most high-performing electric vehicles, while a DC (Direct Current) motor can run between 96 to 192 volts. 

Almost everyone knows how a combustion engine works. It’s pretty straightforward, but have you considered buying an electric car and wondering how their machines work? How do invisible electrons make an entire car run? Electric charging stations use both AC and DC to charge vehicles.

Let’s explore the difference between the two and their pros and cons. 

AC vs. DC Motors 

AC (alternative current) and DC (direct current) are two different types of electric currents. In a DC, the electrons flow in one direction only, while in AC, they periodically flow in the opposite direction. Different users and manufacturers prefer these types of current for electric vehicles, and charging stations offer both. 

Let’s explore each in a bit more detail: 

AC Motors 

This three-phase motor operates on 240 volts of alternating current and is used by manufacturers to develop the most high-performance electric vehicles. There are two further types of AC motors: 

  • Induction motor – rotor turns at a slower speed than the magnetic field
  • Synchronous motor – rotor and magnetic field are in sync and turn at the same time

Out of these two, the induction motors are less maintenance and highly cost-effective. These are also utilized by Tesla for their electric vehicles. 

DC Motors 

A DC motor can run between 96 to 192 volts. These are less expensive and more easily installed as compared to AC motors. There are three types of DC motors: 

  • Stepper 
  • Brushed 
  • Brushless

The brushed DC motor is used widely by electric vehicle manufacturers. 

Major Differences Between AC And DC Motors 

AC and DC motors are powered by two different kinds of currents and also have different builds. Let’s look at the differences between the both in detail below: 

AC Motor DC Motor
Requires an inverter No inverter required 
No commutators and brushes are present Commutators and brushes are present 
Three-phase AC motors can self-start. Single phase ones require a starting mechanism DC motors can self-start in all conditions 
DC motors can only run on single-phase supplies The armature is static with a rotating magnetic field
Armature rotates while the magnetic field is static Armature is static with a rotating magnetic field
Slow response to load change Quick response to load change 
Low maintenance High maintenance 
Longer life expectancy due to the absence of brushes and commutators Shorter life expectancy due to brushes and commutators 

Pros And Cons Of AC And DC Current

Now that we know that electric cars can run on both AC and DC and the significant differences between the two kinds of motors. We’ll use this article section to walk you through the pros and cons of direct and alternating currents. 

AC Current 

As covered earlier, the electrons in an alternating current reverse their direction periodically. It has certain limitations regarding speed and stability. Let’s explore its pros and cons in a bit more detail below: 


  1. Power generation is more straightforward with the invention and use of hydroelectric AC generators than mechanical generation using DC currents.
  2. AC makes it possible for power to be used in homes and appliances with the use of brushless and commutator-less induction motors 
  3. AC lights up incandescent bulbs and lights much better than DC due to high voltage. 
  4. It is high voltage and more readily available than its counterpart.


  1. AC can be quite expensive to use when it comes to car consumption. 
  2. High voltage means more insulation is required for safety.
  3. More risk of sparks and heat due to very high voltage. 
  4. Requires inverters which is an added expense for users.

DC Current 

DC supply is the less popular form of current. It has a unidirectional flow of current from positive to negative and a relatively constant supply compared to AC current. 


  1. DC can be generated from clean energy sources like solar and wind energy as compared to AC power, which requires traditional sources and contributes to pollution. 
  2. DC is more energy efficient due to the stable polarity and magnitude of the current. 
  3. A DC supply is stable and constant, which is why most appliances run on a DC supply.
  4. DC circuits are noise-free and highly efficient due to low power loss and no inductance or capacitance. 
  5. DC power and transmission are less expensive. 
  6. DC power can be directly stored in batteries without needing an inverter.


  1. Due to the commutation issue, DC generators tend to be more complicated than AC ones. They cannot work on high voltage. 
  2. DC cannot be transmitted over long distances due to no step-up and step-down ability. 
  3. DC to AC conversion is more complex, and much power is lost in the process.
  4. DC motors and machinery that operate on them are more complex than AC motors and machinery.
  5. DC machine parts are more complicated and expensive than AC ones.
  6. DC supply cannot be easily stepped up or stepped down – the process is very complex compared to just using a transformer to step up or down an AC supply. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Can An AC Motor Run On A DC Supply?

An AC motor cannot run on a DC supply. These motors need alternating flux, which is only produced by an alternating current supply. 

2. Are Brushless DC Motors The Same As AC Motors? 

Brushless DC motors are somewhat similar to synchronous AC motors. The major difference is that the synchronous AC motor develops a sinusoidal back EMF and a brushless DC motor has a rectangular or trapezoidal back EMF.

3. Can An AC Motor Run On Battery? 

AC motors run on alternate current. A battery always supplies DC only. The two cannot work together. An inverter is required to run an AC supply on a battery. 

Final Thoughts 

Both AC and DC supplies can be used to run an electric vehicle, and different manufacturers have their preferences and reasons for using both, and each has its pros and cons.

We hope this article enhances your knowledge of current types and their usage in electric vehicles.

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