What Are the Differences Between Electric and Nitro RC Cars?

When you take a look at electric or nitro powered rc cars, they seem very similar. But there are quite a few differences, which do come not from their appearances but the actual operation.

As an RC hobbyist, making the right decision between a nitro or electric car can give you many years of enjoyment. Here are the five most important differences between these two models:

1. Motor and Engine

By far, the most important difference between a nitro and electric RC car is what makes them operate. Basically, the nitro RC models come with an engine fueled by a methanol-based substance, while the electric RC vehicles are powered by the motor that requires electricity, which is often in the form of battery packs. This nitro fuel and nitro engine are the RC version of the gasoline and gasoline engine used in a full-size truck or car.


2. Chassis

The chassis of nitro powered RC cars are mainly made of a lightweight and durable anodized aluminum. This metal construction, instead of plastic, is applied because nitro engines often generate a lot of heat that could melt any form of plastic chassis.

The chassis on electric RC vehicles, on the other hand, is often made of plastic and carbon fiber. This gives the chassis adequate strength and durability while decreasing the overall weight of the cars at the same time.

3. Drivetrain

velocityThe drivetrain system in most toy-grade electric RC models often consists of plastic parts. The only metal component in the drivetrain might be the pinion gear, which can be made of plastic sometimes as well. The differential, which is a group of gears in the drivetrain, in an electric hobby-grade car has both plastic and metal parts, but it could be upgraded to the metal to give your electric hobby-grade drivetrain a great boost in longevity and strength.

Just like the chassis, the drivetrain in nitro RC cars primarily contain all metal differentials and gears. These metal parts play an important role in ensuring that the high torque generated by the powerful nitro engine does not place too much pressure on other plastic components. Some low-end hobby-grade nitro models might be designed with some plastic gears in the drivetrains, which would be less durable compared to metal ones.

4. Center of Gravity

The number of parts and their placements can have a significant effect on the weight and center of gravity of the RC cars. This eventually affects the potential maneuverability, handling, and speed of these models.

With both nitro and electric hobby-grade RC cars, the center of gravity plays a very important role. Sometimes having the right center of gravity can make a big difference between losing and winning in an RC race.

In fact, it might be marginally harder to have a stable center of gravity on the nitro RC models in comparison with electric cars because the electric RCs do not need to worry about the continuous movement of gas or fuel in their tank. All the parts in an electric RC car are stationary and do not shift at all, which gives it a steady center of gravity and a slight handling advantage over nitro models.