A Terminology Guide for New EV Owners
Electric Vehicle (EV) Terminology and Technology Guide: Definitions for Owners, Shoppers, and the EV-Curious
There is a lot of information to take in if you are new to the world of electric vehicles (EVs). Much like when you were learning how to drive your first internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle as a teenager or young adult, you had a lot of information to learn along the way. We thought it would be helpful to make a list of important words and acronyms that are used commonly within the EV lexicon, so that you can start to become familiar with the new and exciting innovations of the automotive industry.
Vehicle Type Terminology
• EV: “Electric Vehicle” is a vehicle which has a battery instead of a gasoline tank, and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine.
• BEV: “Battery Electric Vehicle” is a 100% battery-powered Electric Vehicle.
• FCEV: “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle” is a vehicle that uses a fuel cell (usually hydrogen-based) to generate electricity that runs an on-board motor.
• PHEV: “Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle” is a type of car similar to a traditional hybrid, but with a bigger battery pack that can be charged by plugging into an EVSE (link to definition). PHEVs offer the chance to make short journeys on cheap, zero-tailpipe-emission electricity, but are also capable of longer journeys.
• ZEV: “Zero Emission Vehicle” A vehicle that emits no tailpipe pollutants from the source of its power. Harmful pollutants to health and the environment include, carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, various oxides of nitrogen, and even more.
• AC: “Alternating Current” An electric current that reverses direction at regular intervals.
• Charging: Refiling your vehicle’s electric battery with energy, via a charger.
• Charging Point: The location where electric vehicles can be plugged in and charged, whether at home, at your place of work, or in a public charging facility.
• EVSE: “Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment” also more commonly referred to as a “Charging Station”, is an element of infrastructure that reliably supplies electric energy for electric vehicles.
• Connector: A device attached to the cable from an EVSE that connects to an electric vehicle allowing it to charge.
• CHAdeMO Plug: This quick charging system allows for charging capacities up to 50 kW at appropriate public charging stations, and is used for Japanese brand vehicles (Toyota along with a special adapter)
• DC Fast Charge: 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 3appriximatley half an hour.
• Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3 Chargers: The different levels of chargers available for electric vehicles. These levels are based off their electrical output, and how quickly and efficiently they can charge an electric vehicle.
• Range: The distance you can travel on pure electric power before the battery requires you to recharge it.
• OBC: “On Board Charger” is a system which converts the AC input from the grid to a DC input which charges the battery.
• AMP: An AMP is the shorthand for “Ampere”, a unit of electrical current.
• DC: “Direct Current” is an electric current of constant direction.
• KWH: “Kilowatts-Hour” is 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 it can be compared as the electric car’s equivalent of gallons of fuel in a gas tank.
• ICE: “Internal Combustion Engine” is the technical name for the gas-powered engine in most vehicles today. The ICE generates power by igniting an air-fuel mixture within a cylinder that forces down a piston. The number of cylinders in most combustion engines range from three all the way up to twelve and can be enhanced with forced induction devices called turbochargers and superchargers, that force more air into a cylinder to generate extra power. While the internal combustion engine has played an important role in the advancement of human society, they release many harmful emissions and pollutants as a byproduct.
• Lithium Ion Battery: This is the current standard in electric vehicle batteries. It offers good energy density and fast charging ability. The life of a lithium-ion battery is estimated to be the same as the life of the car, which is approximately eight to ten years. Usually after around 10 years, a lithium-ion battery is expected to be 80% still efficient, so they may remain usable.
• Regenerative Breaks: 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.
Now that you have read through these important terms, you can understand your new Electric Vehicle a bit better. We hope that you continue to use this as a reference guide– and in no time, you will be an expert too! Don’t forget to check out our other EV articles and stay up to date on the latest EV news and know-how.