How Do Tesla Cars Work? (In Layman’s Terms)

Tesla has quickly become one of the most recognized brands in the market and is known for producing high-quality electric cars with impressive performance and range.

However, many people are still unsure about how Tesla cars work and what makes them different from traditional gas-powered vehicles.

Tesla cars are powered by electric motors that use energy stored in the car’s battery packs. The battery packs are made up of thousands of small lithium-ion batteries that are connected together to provide the necessary power.

When the car is in motion, the electric motor converts the energy from the battery packs into mechanical energy, which turns the wheels and propels the car forward.

One of the key benefits of Tesla cars is that they produce zero tailpipe emissions, making them an environmentally friendly alternative to gas-powered vehicles.

In addition, Tesla cars are designed to be highly efficient, with regenerative braking systems that help to recharge the battery packs while the car is in motion.

tesla model x at tesla showroom with tesla chargers

Electric Powertrain

The electric powertrain is the heart of every Tesla vehicle. It is responsible for converting electrical energy stored in the battery into mechanical energy to propel the car.

The electric powertrain is made up of several key components, including the battery, motor, and inverter. Let’s take a closer look at each of these components.


The battery is the most critical component of the electric powertrain. It is responsible for storing and supplying electrical energy to the motor when needed.

Tesla uses high-capacity lithium-ion batteries that are designed to provide long-range and fast charging times. The battery is located at the bottom of the car, giving it a low center of gravity and improving handling.

Tesla’s batteries are designed to last for hundreds of thousands of miles and come with an 8-year or 120,000-mile warranty. The battery management system monitors the battery’s health and ensures that it operates within safe limits.

Tesla also offers a range of battery options, allowing customers to choose the one that best suits their needs.


The motor is the second most critical component of the electric powertrain. It is responsible for converting electrical energy from the battery into mechanical energy to propel the car.

Tesla uses high-performance electric motors that are designed to provide instant torque and smooth acceleration. The motor is located between the rear wheels, giving the car a balanced weight distribution.

Tesla’s motors are designed to be highly efficient, with a conversion rate of up to 97%. They are also maintenance-free, with no oil changes or tune-ups required. The motor is controlled by the inverter, which converts DC power from the battery into AC power for the motor.


The inverter is the third key component of the electric powertrain. It is responsible for converting DC power from the battery into AC power for the motor.

Tesla uses high-performance inverters that are designed to be highly efficient and reliable. The inverter is located between the motor and the battery, making it easy to access for maintenance.

Tesla’s efficient inverters operate with a conversion rate of up to 98.5%. They are also designed to be lightweight and compact, making them easy to install and integrate into the electric powertrain.

Key electric powertrain takeaways:

  • The electric powertrain is the heart of every Tesla vehicle. It is responsible for converting electrical energy stored in the battery into mechanical energy to propel the car.
  • The electric powertrain is made up of several key components, including the battery, motor, and inverter.
  • Tesla’s electric powertrain is designed to be highly efficient, reliable, and long-lasting, making it the perfect choice for anyone looking for a high-performance electric vehicle.

Regenerative Braking

Tesla cars have an innovative regenerative braking system that captures energy from the brakes and converts it into electricity to recharge the battery. This system not only increases the car’s efficiency but also extends the lifespan of the brake pads.

When the driver applies the brakes, the regenerative braking system uses the electric motor to slow down the car and convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy. The electricity generated is then fed back into the battery, which can be used later to power the car.

The regenerative braking system also works in tandem with the traditional friction brakes to provide smooth and consistent stopping power. When the driver presses the brake pedal harder, the friction brakes kick in to provide additional stopping power.

One of the benefits of regenerative braking is that it reduces wear and tear on the brake pads. This is because the electric motor is used to slow down the car instead of relying solely on the friction brakes.

As a result, the brake pads last longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

The regenerative braking system is an important component of Tesla cars that helps to improve their efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.

All Wheel Drive

Tesla’s All Wheel Drive (AWD) system is an innovative technology that utilizes two electric motors to power the front and rear wheels independently. This allows for better control and handling, especially on slippery or uneven surfaces.

The system is designed to provide maximum efficiency and performance while minimizing energy consumption.

All-wheel drive (AWD) is a drivetrain system that allows all four wheels of a vehicle to receive power from the engine simultaneously. This system is designed to provide improved traction and handling on various road conditions, including wet, slippery or uneven surfaces.

The electric motors are controlled by Tesla’s advanced software, which constantly monitors the road conditions and adjusts the power distribution between the front and rear wheels as needed.

This ensures that the vehicle maintains optimal traction and stability, even in challenging driving conditions.

Front Motor

The front motor in the Dual Motor System is designed to provide additional power and torque to the front wheels.

This motor is smaller than the rear motor and is optimized for efficiency. It is used primarily in situations where the rear wheels lose traction, such as when driving on slippery or uneven surfaces.

Rear Motor

The rear motor in the Dual Motor System is the primary source of power for the vehicle. It provides the majority of the torque and acceleration, making it ideal for high-performance driving.

This motor is larger and more powerful than the front motor, and it is optimized for speed and performance.


Tesla’s Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that allows the car to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically under certain conditions. It uses a combination of cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and GPS to detect and respond to its surroundings in real time. 

Autopilot is designed to help the driver with the most burdensome parts of driving, such as stop-and-go traffic or long highway stretches. However, it still requires the driver to remain attentive and ready to take control at any time. 

The Autopilot system includes several features, such as:

  • Autosteer: Keeps the car centered in its lane and adjusts its speed to match the flow of traffic.
  • Auto Lane Change: Allows the car to change lanes on the highway when prompted by the driver.
  • Summon: Enables the car to park itself or retrieve itself from a parking spot with the touch of a button.

It’s important to note that Autopilot is not a fully autonomous driving system. Tesla recommends that drivers keep their hands on the wheel and be ready to take control at any time.

The company also states that the driver is responsible for the car’s operation and should always remain attentive and vigilant. 

According to Tesla, Autopilot is constantly improving through over-the-air software updates, which add new features and improve existing ones.

Tesla also states that Autopilot is safer than human drivers, citing data showing a significant reduction in accidents among Tesla owners who use Autopilot. 

Autopilot is an impressive feature that has the potential to make driving safer and more convenient. However, it’s important to remember that it’s not a substitute for an attentive and responsible driver.


Tesla cars are powered by electricity, so it’s essential to understand how they charge. This section will explain how Tesla cars charge and the different charging options available.


Superchargers are the fastest way to charge your Tesla. Depending on the model, they can charge your car up to 80% in just 30-40 minutes. Tesla has installed Superchargers globally, and they are located along major highways and popular travel routes.

Superchargers use a high-powered DC charging station that can deliver up to 250 kW of power to your car. They are designed to charge Tesla cars quickly and efficiently, making long-distance travel more accessible and convenient.

Using a Supercharger is easy. Simply drive up to a Supercharger station, plug in your car, and wait for it to charge. You can monitor the charging progress on your car’s touchscreen or the Tesla mobile app.

It’s worth noting that Superchargers are not free. Tesla charges a fee for using the Supercharger network, but the cost is still significantly less than filling up a gas-powered car.

If you’re planning a long-distance trip, Superchargers are the way to go. They are fast, reliable, and convenient, making long-distance travel in a Tesla car a breeze.

For more information on Superchargers and their locations, visit the Tesla Supercharger page.

Tesla Do’s and Dont’s

When it comes to owning and operating a Tesla car, there are some important do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. Here are a few key things to remember:


  • Do keep your Tesla charged regularly to ensure optimal performance. Tesla recommends keeping your battery charged between 50-90% for daily use and not letting it drop below 20%.
  • Do use Tesla’s recommended charging methods, such as using a Tesla Supercharger or a Tesla Wall Connector, to ensure the fastest and most efficient charging times.
  • Do keep your Tesla’s software up to date by regularly checking for and installing available updates. This will ensure that your car has the latest features and improvements.
  • Do use Tesla’s Autopilot feature responsibly and always pay attention to the road. Autopilot is not a substitute for attentive driving.


  • Don’t let your Tesla battery completely run out of charge. This can cause damage to the battery and reduce its lifespan.
  • Don’t use non-Tesla charging equipment, as it may not be compatible with your car and could cause damage to the battery or other components.
  • Don’t rely solely on Autopilot to drive your car. You are still responsible for the safe operation of your vehicle.
  • Don’t modify your Tesla’s software or hardware without consulting Tesla first. Doing so could void your warranty or cause other issues.
  • Don’t flat tow your Tesla. Flat towing is not an option with a Tesla and could cause serious damage to your vehicle and even fire.
  • Don’t jump a gas-powered car with a Tesla. Tesla warns against jumping a regular car with a Tesla car because the process can damage the Tesla’s battery.

For more information on how to properly maintain and operate your Tesla car, be sure to check out Tesla’s official website and owner’s manual.

Busting Tesla Myths

Despite Tesla’s growing popularity and success, there are still some myths and misconceptions about the company and its cars. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:

Myth: Tesla cars are too expensive

While it’s true that Tesla cars are generally more expensive than traditional gasoline-powered cars, they are not as unaffordable as some people believe. The Model 3, for example, starts at around $35,000, which is comparable to many other mid-range sedans on the market.

Furthermore, Tesla buyers may be able to receive incentives and tax credits that can help reduce the effective purchase price, making Tesla cars more accessible to a wider range of consumers.

Myth: Tesla cars are not practical for long-distance travel

Some people believe that Tesla cars are only suitable for short trips and are not practical for long-distance travel. However, this is not the case. Tesla has a vast network of Supercharger stations across the country, allowing drivers to recharge their cars quickly and easily on long road trips.

Additionally, Tesla cars have a longer range than many other electric cars on the market, making them a great option for those who frequently travel long distances.

Myth: Tesla cars are not safe

Another common myth about Tesla cars is that they are not safe. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Tesla cars are some of the safest cars on the road.

They have received top safety ratings from organizations such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP).

Furthermore, Tesla’s Autopilot system has been shown to reduce accidents and improve overall safety on the road.

Myth: You can’t lease a Tesla

In reality, Tesla does offer a range of leasing options. However, leasing a Tesla is not possible in all U.S. states. There are eight states where the leasing option is not available.

These states are: Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

However, in the rest of the U.S. leasing a Tesla certainly is possible.

Tesla cars are a great option for those who are looking for an environmentally friendly, high-tech, and safe vehicle. By dispelling these common myths, we hope to help more people understand the benefits of owning a Tesla car.

Myth: Tesla doesn’t accept trade-ins

Many people are surprised to find that Tesla accept trade-ins for the purchase of a new, or even used, Tesla car.

Tesla will accept any regular cars as well as electric ones. Passenger cars, trucks, vans and SUVs are accepted.

If you want to trade-in your old vehicle, just enter its details in your Tesla account and wait for a purchase offer for your order.


In conclusion, Tesla cars are some of the most advanced and innovative vehicles on the market today. Their unique blend of electric power, cutting-edge technology, and sleek design make them a popular choice for drivers who want to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing style or performance.

Throughout this article, we’ve explored the various components that make Tesla cars work, from the electric motor and battery to the Autopilot system and regenerative braking.

We’ve also looked at some of the key features that set Tesla cars apart from traditional gas-powered vehicles, such as their instant torque and over-the-air software updates.

While Tesla cars are not without their drawbacks, such as their higher price point and limited charging infrastructure in some areas, they represent a significant step forward in the evolution of the automobile.

As more and more drivers make the switch to electric vehicles, it’s likely that Tesla will continue to be at the forefront of this exciting new era of transportation.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tesla cars and electric vehicles in general, we recommend checking out some of the following resources:


Do Teslas have a check engine light?

No, Teslas do not have the traditional check engine light as found on a conventional gas-powered car, with internal combustion engine.

Instead it comes equipped with an array of indicators and lights displayed on the vehicle’s Touchscreen and instrument panel.

Thus the driver will be alerted of any urgent issues, and will have a more accurate idea of the problem via the more precise messaging system.

Jonathan Rice

Leave a Comment

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