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EV Dictionary: Electric Vehicle Terminology Explained

by Jignesh Sabhadiya

Electric Vehicle Glossary Of Terms

The electric vehicle (EV) landscape can be hard to navigate, with numerous acronyms and tech terminology evolving daily. Here we offer a glossary of terms to help you feel equipped to understand and join the conversation on an exciting topic that won’t be going away anytime soon.

  • AEV (All-Electric Vehicle): Also called BEV (Battery-Electric Vehicle). A vehicle that runs on an electric motor only, using on-board batteries that you can plug in and recharge.
  • AER (All-Electric Range): The distance an EV is able to go solely using electricity.
  • AC (Alternating Current): A charge of electricity that regularly changes direction, which is the kind of power that comes from the power plant to homes and businesses.
  • AMP: Unit of electric current.
  • BEV (Battery Electric vehicle): Also known as an “All-electric” vehicle BEV’s utilize energy that is stored in rechargeable battery packs. BEV’s sustain their power through the batteries and therefore must be plugged into an external electricity source in order to recharge.
  • BMS (Battery Management System): Any electronic system that manages a rechargeable battery by monitoring and reporting on its state.
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  • Charging: Refilling an electric car’s battery with electricity.
  • Charging Point: The location where electric vehicles can be plugged in and charged, whether at home, work or in a public accessible location.
  • Charging Station: An element of infrastructure that safely supplies electric energy for the recharging of electric vehicles, also known as an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment).
  • Connector: A device attached to the cable from an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) that connects to an electric vehicle allowing it to charge.
  • Chademo Plug (Charging System): This quick charging system allows for charging capacities up to 50 kW at appropriate public charging stations. The following manufacturers offer electric cars which are compatible with… the CHAdeMO plug: BD Otomotive, Citroën, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Subaru, Tesla (with adaptor), and Toyota.
  • Charge Circuit Interrupting Device (CCID): A safety protection component within an EVSE that reduces the chance of a person getting an electric shock.
  • Combined Charging System: Another method to quickly charge electric vehicles through a special electric connection. CCSs often use the SAE J1772, which is the North American electrical standard for Electric Vehicles.
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fast charging station
  • DC (Direct Current): An electric current of constant direction.
  • Dc Fast Charging: The fastest (high powered) way to charge electric vehicles quickly with an electrical output ranging from 50kW – 120kw.This will fully charge an average electric car in 30 to 40 minutes.
  • EV (Electric Vehicle): A broad category that includes all vehicles that are fully powered by Electricity or an Electric Motor.
  • EVB (Electric Vehicle Battery): A battery that is used to power the movement of a BEV.
  • EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment): A safety protocol that enables two-way communication between a charging station and electric vehicle. Basically, it controls the safe current flow between the charger and your EV.
  • EREV (Extended-Range Electric Vehicle): Although the electric motor of a PHEV always drives the wheels, EREVs feature an auxiliary power unit, usually an internal combustion engine, that acts as a generator to recharge the battery when it runs out.
  • FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle): A vehicle that uses a fuel cell, usually hydrogen-based, to generate electricity that runs an on-board motor.
  • GHG (Green House Gas): A gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. Examples include carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons.
  • HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle): A car that integrates a small battery and an electric motor to enhance the efficiency of the engine. The battery’s charge is maintained by the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) engine, it cannot be charged by plugging into an electrical supply. Hybrids offer greater fuel economy than a traditional ICE, but can only travel very short distances on electric power only.
  • Incentives: Many governments offer incentives to encourage buyers to choose an electric car. Incentives for EVs can include grants towards the purchase price, free parking, zero road tax, low company car tax and exemption from city emissions and congestion charges.
  • ICE (Internal Combustion Engine): The technical name for the gas-powered engine in most cars, SUVs, and trucks. It generates power by igniting an air-fuel mixture within a cylinder that forces down a piston. The number of cylinders in most modern engines varies from three all the way up to twelve, and engines can be enhanced with forced induction devices, called turbochargers and superchargers, that force more air into a cylinder to generate extra power. The byproduct of this power generation, however, are harmful emissions like hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), as well as carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • IEC 62196: Also known as the Mennekes, it is a type of connectors that is used to charge Electric Vehicles in Europe.
  • kW (kilowatt): A unit of electric power.
  • KWH (Kilowatt-hour): A unit of energy equivalent to the energy transferred or expended in one hour by one kilowatt of power. Electric car battery size is measured in kilowatt-hours, so think of it as the electric car’s equivalent of gallons of fuel in a gas tank.
  • Lithium-Ion Battery: This is the current standard in electric vehicle batteries, offering good energy density, power, and fast charging ability. The life of a lithium-ion battery is estimated to be the same as the life of the car (eight to ten years). Of course, ‘end of life’ here does not mean a car or its batteries won’t work – after 10 years a lithium-ion battery is expected to be 80% still efficient, so they will still be usable – replacement will be a choice, not a requirement.
  • LEVEL 1 CHARGING (SLOW): On-site circuit/outlet delivers 110-120V of alternating current. Typically, a “cord set” is used to connect to a 120V wall outlet at 15, 20 or 30 amps, which usually comes with the EV. The output to the vehicle is AC current. Cord sets provide a way of charging while at home or away on a trip where a quicker-charging Level 2 unit is not available. The low power flow leads to long recharge times. Due to this long recharge time, a large majority of electric vehicle owners will install and use a higher power Level 2 unit.
  • Level 2 Charging (Fast): Level 2 supplies 240V, like what an electric dryer or oven uses. It goes through a box and a cord that improves safety by waiting to send power to the plug until it’s plugged into an EV.
  • Level 3 Charging: Also known as DC charging. Charging at 480 volts with a direct-current (DC) plug. Takes 30 minutes to fully charge an EV with a 100-mile battery.
  • MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent): MPGe is determined by seeing how far a vehicle can travel on 33.7kWh of energy, the equivalent energy in one gallon of gas. Used for comparing fuel efficiency of EVs and ICEVs.
  • MPkWh (miles per kilowatt-hour): The estimated miles an EV can go on one kilowatt-hour of battery. A more relevant measurement for EV owners as they plan their driving and charging.
  • Molten salt battery: A type of battery that utilizes molten salts as an electrolyte.
  • NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride): A less reliable rechargeable battery.
  • NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle): A BEV that has a top speed of 25mph and can be plugged into a standard outlet.
  • Off-Peak Charging: Charging your EV during the less busy times of day for a lower cost.
  • PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle): A type of car that is configured like a traditional hybrid, but with a bigger battery pack that can be charged by plugging into an EVSE. PHEVs, as they are known, offer the chance to make short journeys on cheap, zero-tailpipe-emission electricity, but also enable long journeys.
  • Pure Electric: A vehicle powered solely by electric motors using power provided by on-board batteries.
  • Range: The distance you can travel on pure electric power before the battery requires a recharge.
  • Range Anxiety: This refers to the anxious feeling of operating an electric vehicle with the fear of running out of battery charge while driving.
  • Regenerative Braking: An energy recovery system used in most electric vehicles that can help charge the battery while the car is slowing down. Typically, the electric motor acts as the generator, so power can flow both ways between it and the battery. ‘Regen’ helps extend the range, while the process also helps slow the vehicle in a similar way to engine braking in an ICE powered car.
  • Type 1 Plug: The type 1 plug is a single-phase plug that allows for charging power levels of up to 7.4 kW (230 V, 32 A).
  • Type 2 Plug: Triple-phase plug. In private spaces, charging power levels of up to 22 kW are common, while charging power levels of up to 43 kW (400 V, 63 A, AC) can be used at public charging stations. Most public charging stations are equipped with a type 2 socket. All mode 3 charging cables can be used with this, and electric cars can be charged with both type 1 and type 2 plugs. All mode 3 cables on the sides of charging stations have so-called Mennekes plugs (type 2).

  • Tesla Supercharger: For its supercharger, Tesla uses a modified version of the type 2 Mennekes plug. This allows for the Model S to recharge to 80% within 30 minutes.
  • Torque: The twisting force that causes rotation. In cars, torque rules and is the major factor in a car’s accelerative ability. Petrol and diesel engines deliver torque over a curve as RPM increases, meaning they have peak power at a given RPM. Electric motors, on the other hand, deliver maximum torque from zero revs, meaning acceleration from standstill can be phenomenal.
  • UTILITY RATE (TOU): Utility rates vary according to high- and low-peak use hours. Thus, the rate charged to an EV customer is based not only on the total electricity used, but also upon the time of day the energy was drawn.
  • V2G (Vehicle-to-grid): A system that allows Electric Vehicles to communicate with the power grid to manage the flow of electricity in either direction.
  • VRLA battery (valve-regulated lead-acid battery): A rechargeable lead-acid battery.
  • ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle): A vehicle that emits no tailpipe pollutants from the onboard source of power. Harmful pollutants to health and the environment include particulates (soot), hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, and various oxides of nitrogen. A popular example of a ZEV is a Tesla Model S.
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