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Do Teslas Have Transmissions? (Fully Explained)

Tesla is rightly one of the most talked about car manufacturers in the world as they are changing the landscape of electric vehicles. However, the technology involved in manufacturing Tesla cars is complex, leaving some wondering about the finer details and whether Teslas have transmissions.

Teslas do have transmissions, although they are not in the same form as those in standard internal combustion engine cars, which may have 6 or more gears. Instead, all Tesla models have a single-gear transmission, which allows them to produce 100% of their torque instantly.

The technology and ingenuity that goes into Teslas, as well as other electric vehicle brands, is complex and rapidly evolving. In this article we will discuss further the inner workings of the Tesla gearbox system, as well as answering the question as to why Teslas don’t have standard gearboxes.

Does A Tesla Have A Gearbox?

Teslas don’t have the traditional gearboxes that you would see in a traditional fuel-powered car with an internal combustion engine (ICE). This is because Tesla have manufactured their cars with just one gear. Tesla cars generate 100% of their torque immediately. This gives them maximum acceleration power at the lowest speeds.

In contrast, the torque of internal combustion engines varies at different RPMs. For example, you can travel at up to around 30 mph (48 kph) in first gear in many cars, but you would have to shift gears if you wanted to go any faster. Teslas bypass this with their instantly high torque range, making one gear more than enough to get up to full speed.

Tesla Gearing Ratios

The Tesla Model S has a single-speed gearbox with a 9.73:1 gearbox ratio, which allows the car to handle higher RPMs without causing excessive wear to the electric motors. A 1:1 gearbox ratio on a Tesla would mean that the car would be able to instantly produce 10,000 RPM. The gearbox ratio for first gear in a car with a standard gearbox will usually be around 3:1. 

In short, Teslas do have a type of gearbox, but they come in very different forms to what most of us are used to. They contain one gear, because that is simply all that a Tesla needs in order to get up to high speeds, because of the way they generate their torque. 

Why Don’t Teslas Have Normal Transmissions?

Teslas don’t have normal transmissions that you would see in fuel-powered cars because they simply don’t need them. They run with a single gear and produce enough torque to power the car at a high RPM instantaneously, and they use this one gear all the way until they reach their top speed.

Most Tesla models are capable of reaching 20,000 RPM, which is incredibly high considering standard fuel-powered cars with internal combustion engines would usually reach a maximum of about 6,000 RPM at high speeds. It is this level of RPM that means Teslas and other electric vehicles need to have their very own type of transmissions, in order to not spin the wheels too much too quickly.

If they had no transmission at all it is likely that they would fail a variety of safety tests, with cars being uncontrollable as soon as the accelerator pedal is pressed. As the new breed of electric vehicle is rapidly circulating, the technology used is evolving, and may be different a few years down the line. 

KEY POINTS

• Teslas do have transmissions, but they are different to those of ICE cars

• They are single-gear, stepdown transmissions

• They provide instantaneous torque

Who Makes Tesla Transmissions?

Tesla uses a single-speed transmission system manufactured by American automotive supplier BorgWarner. The two companies have enjoyed a long-standing partnership since Tesla’s early days in the late 2000s. BorgWarner have recently changed their business to prioritize electric vehicle parts. 

BorgWarner themselves have predicted the revenue for EV parts could rise to over $10 billion by 2030, making up 45% of the company’s total revenue. Partnerships with the most fashionable EV manufacturer on the planet will no doubt help generate that level of income, as well as future mandates likely to be brought in globally, pushing for more use of electric vehicles. 

Do All Teslas Have 1 Gear?

All Tesla models do have just one gear. The cars can produce maximum torque at an instant, making for impressive acceleration. Teslas use their single gear from 1 mph all the way up to their top speeds, which can be as high as nearly 200 mph. It’s also used for reversing.

With the way that Tesla’s electric ‘engines’ work, all they need is one gear, as enough torque is generated instantly for the car to get up to top speed. Electric motors don’t require every part of their internal system to have to be functioning at exact levels in order to work unlike standard, complex internal combustion engines. 

Tesla did formerly use a two-gear system in their earlier Roadster models, but after reliability issues, they switched to a one-gear system. They have used a one-gear system ever since and have showed no signs of reverting back to the two-gear system. To engage reverse gear, the car’s computer electronically inverts the signal going to the motor, causing it to spin the other way.

Do Teslas Have Transmission Fluid?

There is only one Tesla model that uses traditional, automatic transmission fluid: the Tesla Model S. It uses a standard automatic transmission fluid that is widely available and doesn’t require you to buy it from an official Tesla center. The other models use maintenance-free transmission fluids.

Although you won’t have to replace a newer Model S’ transmission fluid as often as you would have to on an older, fuel-powered car, it is not something that you will be able to do yourself, as the tubing is sealed. You will have to take your car to an official Tesla service center and have it replaced by a Tesla engineer. You should only need to do this after roughly 1, 5 and 9 years of ownership.

Other Tesla Models

Other Tesla models do not require transmission fluid in order to work properly. Other Tesla models do require the use of other fluids in the gearbox section, but in new models, Tesla claim that this liquid won’t require any future maintenance. In fact, Tesla have seemingly removed any information about these fluid changes from their manuals – a sign of their confidence, perhaps.

It is understood that the fluids used in Teslas to lubricate their inner workings will last ‘forever’ due to the lack of fumes and intense heat that would usually emanate from an internal combustion engine. The lack of gear shifting due to the single-gear transmission is also a major factor in limiting the deterioration of lubricating fluids.

Final Thoughts

Teslas do have transmissions, even if they aren’t the type that we are used to seeing in traditional fuel-powered cars. The transmissions in Tesla cars ensure that the wheels don’t spin out of control. This is vital, as Teslas can produce 100% of their acceleration power instantaneously.