Electric car jargon: Your guide to understanding the latest EV terminology

WE ARE in the midst of an electric revolution in the motoring industry and that means a whole lot of new terms are cropping up.

Your guide to electric vehicle jargon GETTY

Don’t know your AC from your ICE? This guide may just help you

Don’t know your ACs from your FCVs? We’ve put together a guide to busting electric vehicle (EV) jargon, so worry no longer.

Types of electrified vehicles

If you’ve shopped around for an electrified vehicle recently, there is no doubt you’ll have come across a whole host of different options — BEVs, hybrids, PHEVs and possibly even FCVs.

It may seem confusing to understand at first, but they’re pretty simple once you dig in:

BEV — Battery Electric Vehicle. Powered purely by an all-electric drivetrain.

Hybrid — A vehicle that uses a combination of power sources, most conventionally an internal combustion engine (often referred to as an ICE) and an electric motor.

PHEV — Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Similar to a conventional hybrid but the electric motor can be charged through a mains system.

FCV – Fuel Cell Vehicle. The least common of the four in the UK, an electric vehicle that uses a fuel cell instead of a battery for propulsion — most often hydrogen.

BEV — Battery Electric Vehicle GETTY

BEV — Battery Electric Vehicle. Powered purely by an all-electric drivetrain

Current affairs

This may feel like a return to a secondary school science classroom, but when it comes to electric cars, it’s key to know the difference between AC and DC:

AC — Alternating Current. As suggested by the name, power from an AC connection flows back and forth. As a result, AC motors in electric cars allow for recharging of its own batteries.

DC — Direct Current. Power flows one way with a DC connection, meaning its usage is limited. However, due to being cheap and widely available, they’re common among entry-level electrified vehicles.

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Fast charger — chargers capable of delivering between seven and 22 kilowatts

Charging your knowledge

Perhaps the most complex part of electric car ownership is understanding the different types of charging, so we’ve broken up the key points:

Fast charger — chargers capable of delivering between seven and 22 kilowatts, charging an average EV in three to four hours.

Rapid charger — a step up from a fast charger, a rapid charger can deliver up to 150 kilowatts, capable of charging an electric car in less than an hour.

Supercharger — Tesla owners can use a Supercharger on their car. Commonly found in cities and motorway service stations, a Supercharger is capable of delivering up to 120 kilowatts and fully charging a car in under two hours.

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Rapid charger - Capable of charging an electric car in less than an hour

What else should I know?

There’s a whole host of other terms in the world of EVs, but as for key ones, there’s just a few more.

The difference between kilowatts (kW) and a kilowatt hour (kWh).

A kilowatt is simply a measurement of how many watts of energy a car can develop, while a kilowatt hour is how much energy a car will use in the space of an hour.

There’s also range, which is the distance a vehicle can cover on one full electric charge. Following that, many people have discussed range anxiety — the fear that one full electric cycle just won’t be enough to get them to their destination.

As electrified vehicles become more integrated into our lives, now is as good a time as any to get your head around complicated terms and understand what you’re looking at when the time comes to buy your own.


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