Do Electric Cars Have An ECU? (Explained)

Electronic Control Units (ECUs) are an important feature in gasoline-powered vehicles, undertaking important roles such as electronically injecting fuel into the car’s engine. As they don’t have engines, it can leave many wondering whether electric cars have ECUs.

Electric cars do have ECUs, with some models having 150 of them installed in the car. The ECUs in electric vehicles are responsible for controlling both the mechanics of the car and the speed that its motors run at, as well as the car’s infotainment system and other comfort features.

The ECUs installed in electric vehicles are different to those installed in standard gas-powered vehicles, but they often do similar jobs. In this article, we will discuss in further detail the role that ECUs play in electric cars, as well as discussing whether they also need Engine Control Units.

Do Electric Cars Need An Engine Control Unit?

Electric cars don’t require the same engine controls as gas cars, as they don’t have Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs). Instead, they run on large batteries. These batteries require special Electronic Control Units that help regulate the motors, making sure they run at the right speeds.

Standard Engine Control Units (sometimes confusingly referred to as ECUs) control actuators in the ICE to ensure tip-top engine performance. These units usually come in one piece and are responsible for taking on mechanical duties, whereas electric cars have multiple EV-ECUs to carry out a variety of tasks. 

NOTE: In this article, we will only refer to Electronic Control Units when we use the ECU initialism

Do Electric Cars Need An Electronic Control Unit?

Electric cars are fitted with a form of ECU known as EV Electronic Control Units (EV-ECU). These don’t operate the same way as standard ECUs do in gas-powered vehicles, for obvious reasons, but they do play a major role in managing operations inside the car. Instead of controlling the air and fuel mix like a regular ECU, EV-ECUs make sure the battery is providing enough energy to the motor

The EV-ECU also makes sure the motor is running at the correct speeds, not compromising battery efficiency by going into overdrive, and not compromising power by running too slowly. Much like a regular car wouldn’t be able to run without an ECU, electric vehicles also wouldn’t be able to correctly operate if they didn’t have EV-ECUs installed.   

They aren’t just a mechanical feature however, as they are important in making sure various other aspects of the car are functioning properly. Electric vehicles are often stacked with infotainment and comfort features that all require ECUs to function.  

How Many ECUs Do Electric Cars Have?

The number of ECUs in electric cars depends on the make and model of the car. For example, Volkswagen’s electric vehicles contain about 70 ECUs per car, responsible for controlling aspects ranging from the drivetrain to the cars’ infotainment systems. They are also responsible for making sure the car can be charged efficiently and effectively. 

KEY FACT: Some EVs have up to 150 ECUs installed!

ECUs are vital in ensuring that the inner workings of electric vehicles are working as required. They aren’t just a mechanical feature, but also a comfort, safety and efficiency feature, hence the high number of them installed into the cars. 

Do Teslas Have ECUs?

Teslas do have ECUs, and they are responsible for the electronic control of different aspects of the car. The number of ECUs in Teslas has reduced in recent years, due to both a reduction of parts that were deemed surplus to requirements, as well as supply chain issues. 

The advanced technology that Teslas utilize, such as their remote software updates and self-driving features, require the use of ECUs. Teslas do operate in similar ways to other cars in the electric vehicle field and need ECUs to help regulate their motors. Without ECUs, Tesla cars would not be able to run properly, or allow users access to their impressive electronic features. 


• Electric cars do have ECUs

• They need them for many different functions

• Some electric cars can have up to 150 different ECUs

Why Do Gas Cars Need ECUs?

The job of the electronic control unit (ECU) in gas cars is to keep the engine running smoothly. It helps to maintain the car’s fuel efficiency by electronically controlling the amount of fuel entering the engine’s cylinders. This optimizes the mixture of fuel to air in the cylinder when it is compressed, maximizing the car’s power output and subsequently reducing fuel wastage. 

This job used to be done mechanically, but with the power of modern technology, it can be done electronically via the engine control unit. The technology was also modernized alongside updated emissions regulations, which meant that the system has to be more accurate and controlled in modern cars. 

Gas cars won’t be able to run if they are either without an ECU or if it is faulty. This is because the ECU enables the electronic fuel injection system to work. If you have a faulty ECU, the car’s engine warning light will come on, and the problem should be solved immediately. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to replace ECUs as they are programmed specifically for certain cars.

Final Thoughts 

Electric vehicles rely heavily on Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to help them run. They help operate the car’s mechanics, regulating the amount of power that is being released to the motors. They also help to power the car’s other electric features, such as the infotainment system. 

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