All of Your Electric Car Questions, Answered

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning

If you’re looking to leave gasoline power behind and take your Monticello, MN commute to the next level, consider upgrading to an electric vehicle! We at Cornerstone Auto are proud to offer a full inventory of EVs and hybrids to fit just about every budget and lifestyle, from two-door performance coupes all the way up to full-size SUVs. There’s a lot to love about EVs, from their enhanced performance specs to their environmental efficiency, but there’s also a lot that’s different from traditional gas-powered cars. A lot of new or prospective EV drivers come to us with fundamental questions about the mechanics of driving an electric car, such as: do electric cars have horsepower? Do electric cars have a transmission? We’ve outlined everything you need to know in the FAQ guide below, including answering some key questions about driving electric cars in Minnesota winter! Read on, and be sure to contact us if you have any questions.


When Were Electric Cars Invented?

Electric vehicles may feel like a relatively new invention on the Monticello, MN roads, but electric cars have been around for over a hundred years! The first electric cars were prototyped back in the early 1800s, with some inventors in England and Hungary creating limited-range but working models to prove their concept. When was the first electric car made to be sold in the US? Not long after, thanks to a man named William Morrison who debuted the first US electric car around 1890.

What Was the First Electric Car in the US?

The first electric car in the US from William Morrison looked more like an electrified carriage, as the primary mode of transportation at the time was still horseback. It had seating for up to six passengers and had a top speed of 14 miles per hour. While it wasn’t much, it sparked an interest in electric vehicles, as gas-powered and steam-powered cars were, at the time, difficult to function and maintain. 

Early versions of the electric vehicle took off; the first electric cars most popular in urban areas where the need for range was low and the pollution of gas-powered vehicles was more noticeable. At one point, New York City had more than 60 electric taxis in the city fleet! Even Ferdinand Porsche, who went on to create the Porsche brand, developed an electric car in 1898 called the P1. 

Where Did the First Electric Cars Go?

While the first electric cars were being produced, advancements from gas-powered car manufacturers rushed to keep up. As time went on, oil and gas became cheaper as more reserves in the US were found, and enhancements to the internal combustion engine and electric starters made gas-powered cars cheaper and easier to use. Eventually, due to the price differences between the two, electric cars were pushed out of the market, especially with the popular Ford Model T in 1908.

Electric vehicles have gone in and out of vogue since then, making another brief appearance in the 1970s. As concerns for falling gas reserves and environmental impact grow, the electric market is back on the upswing, with new technology, better range, and more convenient maintenance than ever before.


The first question we typically hear is, “Do electric cars need oil?” No, EVs require no engine oil to operate. Why is that? EVs don’t have gas-powered internal combustion engines, so there’s no engine oil needed to offer the lubrication that gas-powered vehicles need.
Note that if you’re thinking about a hybrid car instead of an electric car, in that case, you will still need engine oil and regular oil changes. This is because hybrid cars operate on an electric battery alongside a gas-powered combustion engine, so lubrication from oil is required for the engine’s moving parts.


You might now be wondering, “If electric cars have no engine, do electric cars have horsepower?” Yes! EVs do have horsepower, but if you’re checking out performance specs for certain makes and models, you might not see it measured as “horsepower.” Rather, some automakers measure horsepower in their EVs as “KW.” If you’re ever wondering how an EV’s KW translates into the more familiar horsepower, you can do a quick Google Search for “kw to hp,” and use the converter to better understand the performance of the vehicle you’re considering.


Yes. However, many EVs have a single-speed transmission rather than a multi-speed (6-speed, 8-speed, etc.) transmission as you’ll see in gas-powered cars. That’s because electric motors generate an equal amount of torque regardless of RPM in a given range. Revving to generate torque isn’t necessary with electric motors because EVs get instantaneous power. Gear ratios are precalculated and carefully coordinated, so the driver doesn’t have to worry about changing gears.


No, you will not find alternators in EVs — or hybrids, for that matter. Instead, these types of vehicles have a DC-to-DC converter that recharges the battery using power from the battery pack.


No. The job of a catalytic converter is to remove byproducts from an internal combustion engine. As we’ve discussed, there is no engine in an EV. Thus, the catalytic converter is not necessary.


No. Electric cars don’t burn fuel for power, meaning there are no exhaust gasses to manage. So, there are no exhaust pipes.


Yes! Your trips around Anoka, MN will feel just as comfortable in an EV as in a gas-powered vehicle. Electric cars use electricity stored in the batteries to operate the HVAC system.


No matter what type of car you drive, how long it lasts ultimately depends on how well you maintain it and, eventually, how much you wish to spend on replacing major components. Depending on your outlook, EVs may have the advantage where longevity is concerned because they don’t have engines, eliminating one of the most significant repairs in a vehicle’s later stages of life.


Minnesota drivers are no strangers to the cold, so you may be wondering how electric cars handle in the winter months compared to their gasoline-powered counterparts. All vehicles suffer from decreased performance in cold temperatures, and electric cars are no different. However, if you buy an EV with strong performance specs and a large battery, you probably won’t see too much difference.


EV batteries are at peak performance when it’s around 70 degrees out, with range and performance decreasing alongside the temperature. This means that, the colder the temperature, the less range your EV will have. It’s a good idea to buy an EV with a large, robust battery so you can retain as much of your electric range in freezing temperatures as possible.


Electric cars use their batteries to heat the cabin in the winter just like in any other season. However, since the battery is under increased strain during the cold months, many automakers have equipped more sophisticated heating technology in their EVs that use the battery power more efficiently, such as heat pump and heat resistance systems.

With no engine to worry about maintaining, the focus turns instead to the most important component of an electric vehicle: the battery. Your new electric vehicle’s battery provides power for everything, from the radio to the motors. So, with this heavy usage, how long does an electric car battery last?

Electric car battery life expectancy currently sits at about 10 to 20 years. This longevity is impressive, but it’s always best to keep your battery as healthy as possible to ensure it makes it lasts as long as possible. Follow these tips to lengthen the life of your battery:

  • Avoid charging your EV at home every night. Try to keep your battery between 20%-80% charged instead.
  • Don’t let your EV sit in extreme heat. While cold is known for draining battery charge, extreme heat is known to reduce a battery’s total capacity and can do far more damage.
  • Use slower charging stations when possible. DC Fast Charging Stations near Ramsey, MN may be convenient, but overuse may degrade your battery over time.
  • Drive smoothly and safely around Anoka, MN. Quick accelerations or hard braking can exhaust large amounts of battery power at one time, which can shorten your battery life. 

As the most important part of your electric vehicle, an EV battery is often the most expensive component. New EV batteries can cost between $5,000 and $15,000 to replace, depending on the vehicle and the size of the battery.

To protect Monticello, MN EV owners, many EV manufacturers cover their vehicle’s battery with warranties. Check with your favorite make and model of EV before buying and see how long the battery and other electric motor components are covered under your new vehicle warranty.

Find Your Next EV at Cornerstone Auto!

Now that we’ve answered questions like “how are electric cars heated in the winter” and “are electric cars good in the winter,” you might want to climb inside the cabin and see how an EV handles for yourself! Contact us or stop by our dealership to set up a test drive, and we’ll get you behind the wheel in no time. You can also contact us with any questions about driving electric cars in Minnesota winter, and a member of our team will be happy to help you. Be sure to check out our EV and hybrid information hub to learn more about the benefits of upgrading from traditional gasoline power.

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