EVU is a free, open ‘university’ that presents concise, video based mini-courses for those who have interest in electric vehicles (EVs) in general and/or the Tesla Model S (and other EVs in the future).

Tesla Model S evu evannex university


Today, the average car buyer has little knowledge of how electric vehicles (EVs) actually work, what the pros and cons of ownership are, or why they represent an important option to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Each of our mini-courses are organized into a curriculum track. To help you learn more, we've been developing curriculum tracks on EVs and the Tesla Model S. 


Please click on the buttons below if you'd like to review any EVU courses in either of the curriculum tracks below. Study Guide also follows below.


Study Guide

Every EVU mini-course is intended to stand on its own and will provide you with useful information about a targeted EV topic. Our intent is to provide enough information to allow you to understand various aspects of EVs, but not so much that we discourage non-technical students from participating. To check out the curriculum and mini-courses available, please visit here.

We recognize that some students may have additional interest in a specific topic and therefore want to delve more deeply into the subject matter. We have created this study guide to assist you, if you want to learn more.


IMPORTANT:  Please note that this Study Guide is an evolving document. We will add study guide materials for each new EVU mini-course as it is released on our website.

The Electric Vehicle Curriculum

EV 101    Introduction

Abstract:      A discussion of the differences of electric vehicles (EVs) and internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is presented. The basic components of the ICE vehicle are discussed and the overall simplicity of EVs is emphasized.

Points to Ponder:

  1. Do some research on an early EV circa 1910. Were the basic elements of 1910 EVs the same as modern EVs? What were the primary differences?
  2. Of all the components that are missing in an EV (compared to an ICE vehicle), what do you believe is the most important?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

How Electric Cars Work
A basic introduction that covers EV system components and how they fit together.

Introduction to Electric Vehicles
Presents an overall introduction including many useful facts about efficiency, reliability and environmental impact. Also provides a useful set of links to other EV-related sites.

Plug In America
Plug in America is an EV advocacy group that provides copious information on electric vehicles. Of particular interest is their “plug-in vehicle tracker” that provides a comprehensive and current list of EV offerings by all EV and PHEV manufacturers, and “accessory tracker” that tracks EVSEs and apps that assist in charging.

Global Outlook for EVs
A downloadable report that provides projections of the growth of EVs through 2020. Contains a number of useful infographics and detailed data and analysis.

EV 102a    Basic Concepts, part 1 / EV 102B    Basic Concepts, part 2 

Abstract:      A discussion of basic EV concepts, including volts and amps and measures of power and capacity that are necessary to understand battery charging. Also considers measures of vehicle efficiency including MPGe, kWh per mile and the e-Gallon.

Points to Ponder:

  1. Explain the difference between amps and watts and how each unit comes into play when you own and drive an EV?
  2. What is battery capacity and how is it measured?
  3. How is MPGe used to compare different vehicles?
  4. What does the power consumption curve look like as vehicle speed increases? Why?
Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

An Introduction to EVs and PHEVs
Although this downloadable presentation by the MIT EV Team is dated, it provides a useful introduction to EVs that still has relevance today. But be careful with the facts and figures because much has changed.

Basic Electrical Terms and Definitions
An introductory but fairly detailed discussion of many electrical terms that come into play, when EVs and EV charging infrastructure are discussed.

An Argument for kWh/mile
A discussion of kWh/mile as an efficiency measure for EVs.

Electric Car Battery Basics: Capacity, Charging and Range
Edmunds presents a useful overview of battery basics.

Comparing Energy Costs for EVs and ICE Vehicles
A technical, cross-reference graph that enables the user to compute energy cost per mile given gas costs and/or kW.

BEV Concept Cars
Pinterest offers some cool sketches and other rendering of EV concept cars.

Electric Vehicle Timeline
Presents a year-by-year summary of electric vehicles through the present with a description of vehicle type (e.g., BEV or PHEV, MPGe, and general vehicle characteristics, along with a small photo.

EV 103    EV Architecture, Components

Abstract:      A discussion of the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) architecture and the component elements that must be present within a BEV system. The battery, the electric motor, control electronics and regenerative braking are all discussed.

Points to Ponder:

  1. What do we mean when we talk about vehicle architecture?
  2. What are the key elements of an electric motor? How do they work to produce motive force?
  3. What is the job of “control electronics”?
  4. Explain how regenerative braking works.
Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

EVs: The Underlying Base Technology
A useful YouTube video (00:05:12) that provides a good introduction to how EVs work.

Electric Motors
A compact pictogrammatic description of how electric motors and generators work. Simple, yet instructive.

Electric Motors for EVs 2012-2022
A summary of a Research Report by IDTechEx that itself contains useful tidbits of information.

EV Controllers
An engineering paper that discusses key issues for the design and implementation of EV control electronics. Addresses EV system elements that must be monitored and controlled. Very advanced content.

EV 104    EV Architecture, BEVs and PHEVs

Abstract:      A discussion of the major EV variants (BEVs and PHEVs) with an emphasis on modes of operation.

Points to Ponder:

  1. Discuss the primary differences between BEVs and PHEVs?
  2. PHEVs have very specific modes of operation that differ from car to car. Discuss these and select the one that is most common.
Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

All Electric (BEVs) vs. PHEVs
A brief article on the pros and cons of EVs and PHEVs from the vehicle owner’s perspective. For non-technical readers.

Useful Q & A on EVs and PHEVs.

Presentation Slides on Hybrid EVs
A 20-slide presentation of hybrid EVs that presents basic issues and architectures.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
A brief overview of PHEVs with links to related information.

Plug-in EVs
The Executive Summary of a Research Report written in 2012 that provides information on market growth and technology issues. Three years in, it’s interesting to evaluate the projects and claims.

Pulling the Plug of PHEV Myths
Although dated, this article still has relevance as a discussion of some of the myths that surround PHEVs.

EV 105    EV Architecture, Diagrams

Abstract:    An examination of system diagrams for all major BEV, PHEV, and FCEV architectures

Points to Ponder:

  1. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Does that mean that the BEV architectural diagram is the one you choose?
  2. Discuss the primary difference between a series and parallel PHEV.
  3. We have an entire course dedicated to PHEVs, but can you think of any reasons why they may be less than ideal for passenger vehicles?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

Architecture of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
An in-depth discussion of the subject (43pp) with a breakdown of all important architectures, a discussion of technical characteristics, and a consideration of power flow, and parallel hybrid torque coupling. Technical content.

Evaluation of EV Architectural Alternatives
A downloadable engineering paper that considers alternative architecture. Advanced content.

Engine Design, Sizing and Operation of Hybrid EVs
A 2011 presentation (somewhat dated) that includes technical information that will be of interest to those who want to learn more about Hybrid EV power trains.

Electric Vehicle Design and Modeling
A technical and very detailed discussion of EV design and modeling with sufficient mathematics to model major EV subsystems. Highly technical content.

EV 106    EV Architecture, Production Examples

Abstract:    An examination of system diagrams for all major BEV, PHEV, and FCEV architectures

Points to Ponder:

  1. Using one or more of the lists noted in Further Readings (or other web-based sources) explain the difference between the Tesla Model S, the BMW i8, and the Toyota Mirai. Make an argument for one of the vehicles.
  2. Do you believe that fuel cell vehicles will become anything other than a tiny percentage of all EVs? Why?
  3. What is the coolest EV concept vehicle you’ve encountered? Compare it to a production vehicle of your choice.
Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

Electric Cars-2015
List of prices, efficiency, range, pictures and more. Details about BEVs and PHEVs.

Detailed List of EVs and Hybrids
Excellent and detailed listing of virtually every EV available in early 2015.

February 2014 Survey Report
Prepared by the center for Sustainable Energy (CA) this study provides an excellent infographic that addresses motivation for vehicle purchase, owner satisfaction and many other attributes.

Analysis of a consumer survey on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
An academic paper that analyzes the impact of PHEVs.

EV 201a/b    EV Range, parts 1 and 2

Abstract:    A presentation of EV range and the factors that impact range. Vehicle and environmental factors are presented along with a discussion of the impact of battery capacity, aerodynamic drag, driving conditions, and suggestions for maximizing range.

Points to Ponder:

  1. Prioritize the vehicle parameter that you believe affect range the most.
  2. Why does increased speed impact EV range?
  3. Describe "drag" in your own words and then discuss how vehicle design affects aerodynamic drag. What is the most important factor in maximizing range?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

Charge Time and Vehicle Range
Presents a list of factors that effect range and charging time.

A Critique of the MPGe Rating
An opinion piece on what the author considers is a “misguided” mileage metric.

The 10 EVs with the Longest Range
This late-2014 article provides a description of the top ten EVs relative to range. Pricing, pics, and other descriptive information is also provided.

Longer Range BEVs
In late 2014, a number of news reports indicate major auto makers mentioning higher capacity batteries that will result in a longer range BEV within 12 to 24 months.

EV 202   Range Anxiety

Abstract:    The underlying causes of range anxiety are discussed along with facts and data that indicate that the anxiety issue may be overblown for most drivers most of the time.

Problems and Points to Ponder:

  1. Based on the data presented, are you an average driver?
  2. Are there aspects of your driving patterns that might lead to concern about range? List them.
  3. Is it possible to charge while you're on the road? If so, what are your options?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

Range Anxiety—A Pleasure Killer
Written by the spouse of an owner of a short range Nissan Leaf, this blog post honestly examines the issue. Worth a read to understand a major issue for EVs.

Experiencing Range in an Electric Vehicle - Understanding Psychological Barriers
[Cached via google – search the title]
A fascinating study of the components that contribute to “acceptable” range, and by implication, the psychological factors that precipitate for range anxiety.

Technical Approaches to Alleviating Range Anxiety
A brief discussion of the uses of “big data” in the battle against range anxiety.

Smart System Management
Discusses “smart” system management as a method for improving range by as much as 30 percent.

EV Charger News
Provides useful information about chargers (EVSEs) and charging locations.  Information is somewhat dated but still of use.

EV 205    Regenerative Braking

Abstract:    The use of regenerative braking as a mechanism for capturing and reusing a vehicle’s kinetic energy is presented. Basic kinetic energy concepts are discussed, the characteristics of an electric motor that allows it to be come a generator are explored, the system diagram for a regenerative braking system is considered, and driving with regen is examined.

Problems and Points to Ponder:

  1. Describe kinetic energy in your own words?
  2. How does the electric motor become a generator?
  3. Is regen used in PHEVs as well as BEVs?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

Kinetic Energy-General Description
A one page treatment of the physics of kinetic energy.

Kinetic Energy-Mathematical Treatment
A simple discussion of the governing equations for kinetic energy.

How Regenerative Braking Works
Good overall coverage of regenerative braking systems, including basic operation, the role of controllers, regen for hybrids and EVs and their differences, and automotive variants such as hydraulic power assist systems.

Regenerative Braking—A Basic Introduction
A reasonably elementary but worthwhile discussion of regen. Useful as an introduction.

A Review of Regenerative Braking Systems
Although quite dated, this technical treatment of the subject provides insight into the many ways that regen can be implemented and provides historical perspective for the regen systems that are currently available for EVs.

A Regenerative Braking Algorithm for Hybrid EVs
A technical paper on the design of a regenerative braking algorithm. For those who have interest, provides insight into the issues addressed in the design of a regen controller. Technical content.

EV 210   EV Battery Technology

Abstract:    A discussion of battery components and fabrication approaches, the reasons that building higher capacity batteries are constrained by geometry and technological factors, the key characteristics to assess when comparing battery chemistries, and new battery tech that may lead to significant improvements in those characteristics.

Problems and Points to Ponder:

  1. What are the fundamental components that are present in all batteries?
  2. What factors constraint the development of low cost, high capacity batteries?
  3. What does 'battery chemistry' mean?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

What is a battery?
A technically sophisticated answer to that basic question.

Batteries for Electrics Cars
An excellent downloadable report from the Boston Consulting Group provides in-depth discussion of challenges, opportunities, and outlook to 2020.

The Tesla Battery Report
An in-depth discussion of battery tech for EVs with very specific emphasis on the Tesla Model S. Highly recommended for those who want a detailed discussion of Model S battery technology.

Future Trends for EV Batteries
An article summarizes recent advances and provides a pointer to other trends.

Eight Tips for Extending Battery Life
Eight useful tips that can help extend the useful life of an EV battery.

Battery Capacity Loss
This article, found on the Electric Vehicel Wiki, discusses why batteries loss capacity over time, provides a detailed discussion of the topic.

EV Batteries and the Supercapcitor
A summary of the state of the art, considers the replacement of Li-Ion batteries with supercapacitors. Considers both the benefits and the problems associated with supercapacitor technologies.

Battery Performance Deficit Disorder
Written in 2012, this detailed article discusses some of the failing of current EV battery technologies. It is an honest assessment of the challenges that we face as battery tech tries to meet specific energy, performance and costs goals in the next decade.

Battery Management Architectures for EVs
A worthwhile technical discussion of battery management with consideration of alternative architectures and criteria for selection.

Battery University™
From the website:   “Battery University™ is a free educational website that offers hands-on battery information to engineers, educators, media, students and battery users alike. The tutorials evaluate the advantages and limitations of battery chemistries, advise on best battery choice and suggest ways to extend battery life.”

Battery Research—Science Daily
If you are technical and want the latest breaking news of new materials, new chemistries, and new ideas for battery research, “Science daily” is a worthwhile source.

EV 220a/b           EV Economics—Basics Concepts, parts 1 and 2

Abstract:         An introduction to the economics of EV ownership is presented. The EV purchase premium is discussed and with the qualitative examination of the factors that must be considered as an economic analysis is conducted. Fuel and maintenance costs, including battery replacement issues, are explored.

Problems and Points to Ponder

  1. What are the most dominant cost drivers when the economics of an EV is considered?
  2. How does the cost of gas and the cost of electricity affect the overall cost justification for an EV?
  3. Can you make an argument for costs savings associaed with the simplicity of EV architectures?
  4. Find a good Ev costs calculator and run your numbers through it. How much will you save after five years of ownership?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

The Economics of EVs

A dated but still useful infographic on the economics of EVs.

The Economics of EVs

A downloadable slide presentation out of the U.K. with useful facts and figures addressing the economics of EVs.

Impacts of Electric Vehicles

A 38-page downloadable report prepared in 2011 by the EU addresses business models for EVs, government policies, costs compared to ICE vehicles and many other topics. Somewhat dated, but still worthwhile.

Do EVs Make Economic Sense

Written from a business perspective, a brief analysis of the strategy employed by GM (for the Volt) and Nissan (for the Leaf) by two economists from the Analysis Group.

The Socio-Economic Aspects of EVs

This is an academic paper that serves as a literature review for the subject. It provide a useful snapshot of current research and reports.


Analysis of the EV Industry

A downloadable 101 page report on the overall industry. Address the state of the market, job creation potential, and a variety of “hurdles and solutions” that must be addressed.

The EV “Wedge”

Don’t know what the “wedge” is. Read this mid-2014 article and find out.

The Ugly Economics of EVs

This blatantly anti-EV article is representative of many that appear in the broader media. It’s full of inaccuracies and misstatements, but worth a read so you can understand the boundaries of the debate.

EV 221a/b           EV Economics—Quantitative Issues, parts 1 and 2

Abstract:         A quantitative examination of EV ownership is presented. Overall cost of ownership, fuel cost calculations, resale value, national averages, maintenance costs, battery replacement and the availability of on-line cost calculators are all considered.

Problems and Points to Ponder

  1. How does vehicle resale value of EVs compare with the resale value of ICE cars?
  2. How do maintenance costs for EVs compare with the maintenance costs of ICE cars?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

Vehicle Cost Calculator – I

A useful cost of ownership calculator developed by the US DoE.

Guidelines for Economic Operation of EVs

Guidelines for the most economical driving habits for EVs. Addresses different driving situations and driving tips and caution that will yield the most economical result.

The Economics of EVs

Developed for the State of George, this brief discussion and quantitative breakdown indicates the economic impact of EVs in the state. The same model could be extended to any state or country.

The Economics of EV—12 months with a Tesla Model S

A brief article that breaks down the overall costs and ROI for a BEV (in this case the Tesla Model S). The annual mileage driven is far below the national average, but the model and discussion are worthwhile.

EV 230             Establishing Your Own EV Infrastructure

Abstract:        Basic options for establishing a home charging infrastructure are discussed. The overall installation approach, wiring requirements, costs, the EVSE, and the differences between different BEV and PHEV charging requirements are considered.

Problems and Points to Ponder

  1. What is an EVSE and is it necessary for all EVs?
  2. Does it make sense to charge an EV of 110V house current?
  3. Discuss the basic issues that must be addressed when you plan a charging circuit for your garage.
  4. How much will it cost to build an EV charging infrastructure for your home? What are the variables?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

How to Install a Home EV Charger

A good overview of the steps required to prepare, purchase (EVSEs where necessary) and install charging equipment.

Charging Station Installation Guidelines-I

An in-depth discussion of installation guidelines along with suggestions and a worksheet for the calculation of service load. Specific to San Diego, CA but useful anywhere in the U.S.

Charging Station Installation Guidelines-II

Prepared by Sonoma County, CA this 66 page set of downloadable guidelines addresses both public and private charging options.


Buying Your First EV Charger

An excellent summary of EVSE units available in late 2014, including some basic suggestions for installation.

Home Charging Scenarios

A collection of typical scenarios for home charging, with guidelines based on each scenario.

Charge Your Model S

The Tesla Model S does not require an EVSE for charging. This set of guidelines has been published by Tesla Motors, specifically for the Model S.

Service Load Calculator - I

Service Load Calculator - II

Service Load Calculator-III

These service load calculators are representative of many that can be found on-line.

EV 250a, b, and c           The EV Debate, parts 1, 2 and 3

Abstract:        A discussion of many of the arguments used by those who suggest that EVs cannot be a legitimate challenge for ICE vehicles. Each anti-EV arguments is presented followed by interpretation, counter arguments, and facts.

Problems and Points to Ponder

  1. What are the three anti-EV arguments that are the most difficult to refute?
  2. What are the three pro-EV arguments that are easiest to make?
  3. Discuss subsidies and tax credits for EVs. What are they and how do they impact the debate?
  4. Are there similar subsidies and tax credits for ICE vehicles?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:


An open forum that presents public comments on the pro- and con- arguments about EVs and ICE vehicles. Be warned that some information is incorrect, overstated and otherwise questionable, but it worth taking a look to better understand public percepts.

The Great Debate -- All-Electric Cars vs. Plug-In Hybrids

An investment centric discussion of the viability of electric cars (stocks, actually) relative to the technical and sales potential of EVs vs. PHEVs.

Fully Charged debate

A brief but useful summary (out of the U.K.) of the key advtanges and disadvantages of EVs.

The Great Electric Car Debate

Letters to the editor of Auto-Free Times.

Are Electric Cars Environmentally Responsible

The article discusses the following points (text from the article) “First of all, some critics are concerned that the batteries used to power the cars are not produced in an environmentally friendly fashion. Secondly, some have pointed out the electricity that is used to charge the car battery is not generated via green technology.”

Kill the Electric Car

This article, originally published in Seeking Alpha (an investment site where “shorts” often denigrate EVs) is typical of some anti-EV arguments, but this one is loaded with significant quantitative arguments and is worth objective evaluation.

The Ugly Economics of EVs

This blatantly anti-EV article is representative of many that appear in the broader media. It’s full of inaccuracies and misstatements, but worth a read so you can understand the boundaries of the debate.

EV 310a, b, c    BEVs vs. FCEVs, parts 1, 2 and 3

Abstract:        Fuel cell technology and vehicles are presented. The pros and cons of fuel cells as an alternative to grid-based electrical energy is considered. Technology, vehicles, fueling, and environmental impact are addressed.

Problems and Points to Ponder

  1. How does a fuel cell work?
  2. What are the pros and cons of FCEV architectures and technology?
  3. Is there a specific vehicular segment that is most likely to adopt FCEVs in large numbers?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

How Fuel Cells Work

An indepth discussion (plus video) that describes fuel cells and how they work. Provides sufficient technical depth for those who want to delve deeper.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

Provides an excellent explanation of FCEVs at the layman’s level.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

A useful source of general information provided by the U.S Department of Energy.

Fuel Cell Economics vs. Batteries

A useful economic breakdown of fuel costs for FCEVs as compared to BEVs.

The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle

An infographic for the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle.

The Toyota Mirai

Written and video presentations for Toyota’s Mirai—an FCEV.

The Honda FCX Clarity

The Model S Curriculum

MS 101    Introduction

Abstract:      A general overview of the Tesla Model S with a brief discussion of its history, the many industry awards it has received and the overall strategy that Tesla Motors has applied to the development of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). We also consider the unique production facility that Tesla uses to build the Model S.

Points to Ponder:

  1. Do some research on the early history of Tesla Motors. What do you believe was the turning point for a then-struggling company?
  2. Of all of its positive aspects, what do you think is the most important single characteristic of the Model S that has led to its success?

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

Tesla Motors—History and Background
Wikipedia presents and extremely detailed examination of the company and it’s history.

Tesla Motors History Infographic
A useful infographic that presents the history of the company

Tesla Motors and Three Levels of Business Strategy
An excellent YouTube video that provides useful insight into Tesla business strategy.

Tesla Strategy
On online slide presentation that examines Tesla’s business strategy and results.

The Tesla Approach to Distributing and Servicing Cars
Tesla is a disruptive company with the automobile industry. Even its distribution and service model is radically different from its competitors. The article, written by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk discusses the basics.

MS 102    Features

Abstract:      A broad-based examination of the features that make the Model S unique. Features considered include the 17-inch display,  the driver dash display, active controls, digital controls, interior features, storage options, regen, charging, battery characteristics, and autopilot.

Points to Ponder:

  1. Do some research into the manner in which the driver interacts with Model S features. Is this interaction ergonomic? Is the level of complexity proper for the average car driver?
  2. One feature that is not discussed in detail in this mini-course is over-the-air software updates. Spend some time learning about it and then discuss how OTA updates will impact other Model S features.

Further Reading and Other Information Sources:

Dash Display Teardown Analysis
An interesting discussion of the technical internals of the 17” display. Inlcudes a discussion of the display itself, the Nvidia computing engines, and related electronics. For technically minded students.

How Model S Over the Air Updates Work
A brief, but informative article on how OTA updates work.

OTA Updates
Another article discussing the approach to and benefits of OTA updates.

Model S Features List
Teslatap has developed a useful list of Model S features, addressing “hot features,” and exclusive items.

Autopilot Mode
A brief article and video demonstrating the Model S autopilot feature.

Tesla Model S Battery Life
A useful article of battery life for EV batteries with emphasis on the Model S.





Written and video presentations Honda’s FCX Clarity—an FCEV.

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