Electric Car Jargon Buster

Your dictionary of common terms

There’s a lot of science behind the electric vehicle (EV) revolution. Here, you’ll find a list of common phrases explained in plain English to help you stay informed.

The most popular electric vehicle concepts

  • Contactless payment: The ability of some public chargers to let you pay using your contactless debit or credit card.

  • En-route charging: High-speed charging at service stations, carried out on unusually long journeys.

  • Home charging: Plugging your EV into its charger overnight to replenish the battery at home.

  • ICE: Internal combustion engine, used to indicate traditional petrol or diesel cars.

  • Kilowatt hour (kWh): The energy transferred in one hour by 1,000 watts of power. EV batteries are measured in kWh.

  • RFID cards: Radio-frequency identification cards, used to pay for some public charging stations.

  • Range anxiety: Worrying about your battery going flat while out driving.

  • Range per hour (RPH): The miles of range you get on your EV by charging it for one hour.

  • Rapid charge paradox: The idea that you spend more time waiting around for your EV to charge at the fastest chargers. At slower ones, you leave it charging while you go get a coffee.

  • Single-phase Power: Power provided by standard UK three-pin sockets.

  • Smart charging: Technology in your EV which automatically regulates the way it charges.

  • Three-phase power: Power supplies found in commercial and industrial areas, providing 22kW AC charging.

  • Top Up charging: Charging to keep your EV battery full, rather than only charging when nearly empty.

  • Vehicle to grid (V2G): Releasing power from your EV back into the grid at high-demand times.

Common types of electric car

  • Alternative fuel vehicle: Vehicles which run on fuels other than petrol or diesel.

  • Battery electric vehicle (BEV): Cars which run on battery power only.

  • Electric vehicle (EV): Technically any vehicle which uses battery power, mostly refers to BEVs.

  • Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV): EVs which use hydrogen fuel cells to power electric motors.

  • Full hybrid or ‘self-charging’ hybrid: Cars which mostly run on fossil fuels, but with small batteries which power them at lower speeds.

  • Hybrid car: Any vehicle which uses both battery power and a fossil fuel engine.

  • Mild hybrid: Hybrids where the batteries only ever assist the petrol motor, they can’t run just on battery power.

  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV): Hybrids which can be charged at home or public charging stations and run on either battery or fuel power.

  • Plug-in vehicle (PiV): Any EV with a plug socket.

  • Range-extended EV (REx): EVs with small petrol or diesel motors which help charge the battery.

  • Ultra-low Emission Vehicle (ULEV): Cars with CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km.

Types of EV charging plugs

  • CHAdeMO: Round, four-pin connectors. Used at rapid charging points, typically gives less power than CCS.

  • Combined charging system (CCS): EU standard connectors with two DC pins below a Type 2 connector.

  • Type 1: Five-pin connectors with a clip for secure attachment to the EV.

  • Type 2: Seven-pin connectors with a flat top edge. Provides three-phase power.

  • UK 3 pin: Standard plugs found in UK homes, can be used to power EVs in an emergency.

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