Are Electric Cars Faster Than Gas Ones?

Can a high-performance EV go faster than a souped up gas car? It's not always easy to tell.
Written by Alex Healey
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Mar 14, 2022
One advantage that
electric cars
hold over gas ones is instant torque. When you press down on the accelerator in an EV, there is no wait for power build-up, or for the transmission to shuffle into gear. 
Instead, the electric motor provides power instantly, which can lead to ferocious acceleration off the line. And this begs the question, are electric cars faster than those with internal combustion engines?
A recent test has sought to answer this question, by pitting the all-electric BMW i4 against one of
the fastest ICE cars in BMW’s lineup
—the powerful BMW M3 Competition. 
Read on to learn more about the race, and find out if a vehicle powered solely by electricity can become one of
the fastest cars around
.

The BMW i4 M50 versus the BMW M3

The i4 M50 is the first electric BMW to wear the M badge, which is reserved for the brand’s top performance line of vehicles.
Intrigued by this,
Car and Driver
decided to put the EV through its paces, by testing it against the M3 Competition, an even more souped-up version of the high-octane M3. The test showed that the electric model, boasting 536 horsepower from two electric motors, was quicker to reach 60 mph than its gas-powered counterpart (3.3 seconds vs 3.5 seconds).
However, the M3 Competition, using a 503-hp twin-turbo inline-six cylinder engine, has the higher top speed. It beat the EV by 0.1 seconds in the quarter-mile, and took less time to reach 80 mph.

How do fast EVs compare to high-performance ICE cars?

As explained above, electric cars have quicker acceleration than gas cars, thanks to the instant power generated by an electric motor. However, gas-powered cars still have the faster top speeds, and they can sustain these high speeds for longer.
The reason for this is the transmission. Electric cars don’t have one, which enables them to accelerate quickly, but also means they struggle to maintain the requisite power delivery at very high speeds. Conventional powertrains do use transmissions, which enable the car’s engine to handle more power than an electric motor. Ultimately this leads to improved performance at very high speeds.
Electric car companies believe they will soon be able to close the gap. In fact, the Tesla Model S Plaid already claims a top speed of 200+ mph, but independent testing suggests it is closer to 170 mph.
This is about the same as the Lucid Air Dream Edition (top speed 168 mph), and a bit faster than the Porsche Taycan Turbo S (162 mph), but far behind the fastest commercially available ICE cars. The Porsche 918 Spyder for example, can reach 220 mph on the track. 
In conclusion, EVs are certainly quicker at accelerating than gas cars, but they still have a way to go before they can claim to be faster.
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