Go to content
  1. Home>
  2. Discover kia>
  3. ASK>
  4. Is an engine a motor?

Is an engine a motor?

“People use both interchangeably, but the difference is that motors run on electricity and engines run on combustion. The engine converts various forms of fuels into mechanical force, while the motor transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy.”

What is a motor?

To understand what a motor is, you need to understand how electric cars work. Electric vehicles have a battery that is the source of energy that moves the vehicle and the energy goes through a controller that regulates the voltage that is sent to your motors. Motors power the wheels and move your vehicle forward.   


What is an engine?

In a combustion engine vehicle, you have a fuel tank that sends energy to your engine. The engine transmits power to the transmission and then to the wheels. The engine typically goes through a more complicated process to get to the wheels than electric motors do, but the internal combustion system doesn't require motors or a controller, so you can save a lot of weight from it. 


Electric motor vs Internal combustion engine

When comparing the electric motor and the internal combustion engine, the internal combustion engine has a higher energy density, which means it produces a higher energy output per density of fuel. The combustion engine also takes less time to refuel than the electric motor. At a gas station, it just takes about 5 minutes to refuel. Despite all these benefits, the internal combustion engine has some disadvantages too. It emits toxic emissions such as carbon dioxide, which is harmful to the environment. Also, combustion engines are less efficient compared to electric motors, which means they use more energy to drive the vehicle. 


Having said that, there are a lot of advantages to using electric motors. Electric motors give zero emissions because they don't emit exhaust gas. So, they are very eco-friendly. Electric motors also have instant torque. That means your vehicle can receive a burst of speed as soon as you hit an accelerator.





Vehicle type

Petrol car Electric car

Energy source

The engine produces combustion and moves the pistons. The rotational motion of the pistons is transmitted to the transmission then converted into the energy to drive the wheels.

The electric motor's power source is a battery pack. The energy goes through the regulator and then to the motor that turns the wheels.


a. Higher energy density

b. Less refueling time

a. No carbon emissions

b. Instant torque


a. Emissions

b. Less efficient

a. Less proven technology

b. Longer recharging time