Why don't electric cars charge themselves?

Shouldn’t electric cars charge themselves from the energy of driving? I don’t understand why you have to charge electric cars when you’re generating energy by driving in the first place.

Pat Roache · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
Electric cars can’t charge themselves because the technology required to regeneratively charge an electric car battery faster than it spends its power does not exist.
There are three main ways that car batteries charge themselves:
  • Gasoline-powered cars: An alternator converts the power from fuel combustion into electricity to recharge the car’s battery.
  • Hybrid cars: Regenerative braking puts the car’s motor in reverse whenever the brake is pressed to generate electric power for the battery.
  • Electric cars: Electric cars come with ports to plug in and charge their batteries in place of a fuel port, but these require the car to be parked and turned off.
Electric cars don’t use alternators for two reasons:
  • Alternators generate electricity from mechanical power supplied by combustion engines, which EVs don’t have.
  • An alternator in an EV would require the battery to generate electricity, but this would use more electricity than it generates.
Electric cars also don’t use regenerative braking either because this is a small-scale technology designed to lower fuel consumption with increased battery power, not replace it.
Global trends: A German company called Sono Motors is developing an electric vehicle that self-charges on-the-go with solar panels. But until then, we’re stuck charging our EVs by plugging them in at home.
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Jerry partners with more than 50 insurance companies, but our content is independently researched, written, and fact-checked by our team of editors and agents. We aren’t paid for reviews or other content.

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