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Are Electric RC Cars Faster Than Nitro?

As the debate on nitro vs. electric RC cars rages, the truth remains that each of these cars has its loyal fans. Some people swear by electric RC cars while other people would only ever want to own a nitro car. 

Obviously each person will have different preferences but in this article specifically we will talk about the speed of an electric RC car vs a nitro RC car. 

So, is an electric RC car faster than a nitro one? 

When it comes to speed,  high-spec electric RC cars are a lot faster than their nitro alternatives. In the past, nitro RCs used to be faster than electric RC cars but, with advanced innovations like brushless motors and the LiPo batteries, electric RC cars are a lot better and faster than they used to be.

The fastest electric RC car has a top speed of over 200 MPH while the fastest nitro RC car was just north of 120 MPH. Just looking at these numbers it is obvious that the fastest car is the electric one. 

If you want to see some of the fastest RC cars ever then check out this video below! 

Generally speaking, when talking about the speed of RC cars, there are two kinds of speed to examine: the real speed and the scale speed.

As the name suggests, the real speed of an RC car is its actual speed. The scale speed, on the other hand, is the car’s speed in relation to the full-size car it is modeled after. If the scale of your RC car, for example, is 1:8, and the speed of the full-size car is 110 mph, it means that the actual speed of your RC will be about 14 mph.

The speed of a car also generally depends on a number of factors, such as battery and motor. These individual factors directly affect the performance of the car and its speed.

Factors that influence the speed of an RC car

Here are the major factors that determine how fast or slow your RC car will go:

The gearing

This is one of the most important factors that affect the speed and acceleration of an RC car. The state of your gearing will determine not only the speed of your RC car but also how fast it can accelerate. Every RC car comes with a pinion gear and a spur gear, both of which you can modify to achieve the performance and speed that you need. If you want to change your car’s performance slightly, it is better to change the pinion gear rather than to change the spur gear. Also, choosing the smallest pinion gear will help you get a greater gear ratio. 

When you get a larger gear ratio, you will also get better acceleration, but on the other hand, a smaller gear ratio will help you get a higher speed. So, you might want to pick a smaller gear ratio for the sake of speed if that’s what you’re looking for.

The size

An RC car’s size also has an immediate impact on its speed. First of all, the size of the car affects the acceleration of the car. If the car is big and heavy, it slows down the acceleration. Normally the bigger it is the slower it will be as well but that isn’t always the case. 

The larger the car is, the bigger batteries and motor that it can handle so a larger car might be able to achieve higher speeds than some smaller models with smaller motors and batteries.  


The motor also plays a very important role in the speed of your RC car. There are two types of motors used in electric RC cars: the brushed motor and the brushless motor. Brushed motors are just that, motors with brushes and brushless motors are also just that, motors without brushes.

Now, even though the two types of motors perform the same basic functions, the brushed motor slows down speed because when it is fitted into an RC car, the friction it causes takes away some of the power that would have enabled maximum speed. 

The brushless motors, on the other hand, offer up to a 15% more efficient drive because they do not cause the friction that brushed motors cause. They also produce less noise and heat, and for these reasons, they allow for maximum speed.

The batteries

There are two types of batteries generally used in RC cars; lithium-based batteries (LiPo)and nickel-based (NiMH) batteries.

Cars that use lithium polymer batteries (LiPo) are typically more powerful and faster than cars that use nickel-metal hydride batteries. So, if you want a faster car, one with the lithium polymer batteries are what you should go for. The lithium polymer batteries also have higher runtime to go with the low resistance.

The only downside of these batteries is that they have quite high discharge rates, which means that you would be required to charge them very frequently.

The nickel-metal hydride batteries, on the other hand, do not offer the same power and speed as the lithium-based batteries. Their main advantage is that they’re cheaper and require a lot less maintenance. But, if you’re looking for speed, you can’t count on them.

The surface

All things being equal, RC cars can run at a faster speed on smooth surfaces. This means that if you want to get the best possible speed, stay on the paved and smooth surfaces when you’re racing with your RC car.

 Uneven terrains will stand in your way of running easily and will slow you down. A wet or dirt terrain will also cause you to go slower than if you are running on a dry pavement as you won’t be able to get as good of traction so you won’t be able to go as fast. 

Electric RC cars vs Nitro RC cars

Electric RC cars were not always faster than nitro RC cars. As a matter of fact, nitro RC cars used to be faster than electric RC cars.

However, electric cars have gotten a lot of newer features that have allowed them to increase their top speeds by a large amount. 

From the above list of factors, the two main factors that have ensured that electric RC cars are faster than nitro RC cars are the batteries and the motor. As we have already noted, cars with brushless motors run faster because brushless motors don’t cause friction, heat, or noise.

The fastest electric cars are designed with brushless motors. What this means is that if you’re looking to get a car with the fastest speed possible then an electric RC car is the way to go. Currently, RC cars with brushless motors hold the record for fastest speed among RC cars.

What’s more, LiPo batteries are often used to power the fastest electric RC cars. Nitro RC cars, on the other hand, are powered with nitro fuel which is not as efficient as the brushless motor is.


If you are looking to get the fastest possible car then you will want to buy a brushless electric RC car. An electric RC car will have a much higher top speed than its nitro powered counterpart. 

However, just because an electric RC car is faster doesn’t mean that you should only buy electric powered RC cars. Nitro models are a great option for many people as not having to charge your battery all the time and simply refilling the fuel tank allows for you to spend a lot more time playing with your car than you can with a battery powered one. 

But, when it comes to the fastest RC cars, battery powered models are far and away the winner in that battle. 

If you want to learn more about battery powered RC cars vs nitro powered ones then check out the video below.