Electric motors are remarkably simple devices, yet there are many kinds that each have their own particular advantages and disadvantages. For the scope of driving a passenger vehicle, there are essentially two to consider; Brushed DC, and AC. There are many options to choose from in both types and care should be taken to select the most appropriate for you vehicle.
Brushed DC (Direct Current)
As an historical note, this is the motor type that was most commonly used at the turn of the last century as well as in the more recent hobbyist conversions. They are the simplest to control in that you can power them directly from a battery; in practice, a motor speed controller is necessary. These generate the most torque, and ironically, are also the least expensive. Reversing the motor is not recommended; a transmission with reverse gear is much better.
AC (Alternating Current)
Alternating Current motors do not use brushes to transfer power to the commutator. Power is instead transferred through induction or by use of permanent magnets. There are three power wires. This complicates the motor controller, but simplifies the motor itself. There are three sets of stator windings; power is applied to these sequentially to rotate the motor. What is notable is that the motor does not care which direction that sequence occurs. AC motors are also known for operating at higher voltages and higher speeds than DC motors.
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