Do Electric Cars Have Catalytic Converters?

Updated: Apr. 20, 2023

If you're curious about electric cars, you've probably wondered, "Do electric cars have catalytic converters?" Learn the answer here.

With over 10 million plug-in cars sold worldwide in 2022 compared to only 120,000 a decade earlier, folks naturally have questions about electric vehicles. For many, learning more about a product is the first step in the purchasing process, and that’s why some of the internet’s most popular search phrases lately pertain to electric cars.

Based on current sales trends, the Bureau of Labor Statistics speculates that EV sales could surpass 50% of all U.S. vehicle sales by 2030. If proven true, a greater percentage of the world’s population learning how EV technology works will certainly be a contributing factor. One common question among those interested in EV technology pertains to catalytic converters.

What’s a Catalytic Converter?

Apprentice Mechanic Engineer Holding Catalytic Converter In Car Service CenterMonty Rakusen/Getty Images

Invented in France in the late 1800s, catalytic converters are devices designed to make combustion reactions cleaner and less toxic. Today, catalytic converters are most often installed on cars to reduce the toxicity of emissions. They’re also used in buses, trains, trucks and occasionally kerosene heaters.

They work by directing toxic emissions from a combustion reaction through a chamber called a catalyst. Once inside this chamber, the molecules of unwanted gas are broken up into less dangerous vapors, like steam. Refined and updated over the years, catalytic converters became a mainstay in American vehicles in 1975 when new the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced stricter emissions laws.

Do Electric Cars Have Catalytic Converters?

No, they don’t. Since electric cars don’t have combustion engines, they don’t produce any emissions. That’s why they don’t have or need catalytic converters. Hybrid cars—that use both gas and electricity—do have them, but a fully electric vehicle doesn’t need one.

One reason EV technology is growing so quickly in popularity is that the maintenance and emissions factors are preferable. Electric cars also circumvent the need for oil and filter changes, as well as other routine maintenance required by traditional gas-burning cars. This makes a great option for plenty of people across the country—and you might be one of them!