Electric vehicle jargon busting

With a sea of technical terms to decipher, the processes and mechanisms involved with EVs can be difficult to navigate. Here’s our ultimate glossary of EV jargon and acronyms. 

 

Types of electric vehicles

 

EV – Electric vehicle

This umbrella term encompasses all types of battery-powered vehicles, whether they are entirely run by electricity or are supplemented by it.

 

BEV – Battery-electric vehicle

BEVs are completely powered by electricity, with a battery that is charged by an external power source, such as a chargepoint. These produce no tailpipe emissions.

 

PHEV – Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

A type of vehicle that is powered by both fuel and electricity and can be driven using either of the sources. PHEVs have a fuel tank and a charging port.

 

HEV – Hybrid electric vehicle

HEVs are powered by both fuel and electricity but do not have a charging port and therefore cannot be plugged in. Instead, the battery is usually charged by running the internal combustion engine and through regenerative braking.

 

Electric vehicle parts and mechanical definitions

 

ICE – Internal combustion engine

Also referred to as an ‘IC engine’, an internal combustion engine is a type of heat engine that is used in petrol and diesel vehicles, as well as PHEVs and HEVs.

 

Lithium-ion

The battery technology that is used for most EVs.

 

Electric motor

This is the main feature that differentiates an EV from an ICE alternative. The motor converts electrical energy into kinetic energy.

 

Transmission

The gearbox transfers the mechanical power from the motor to the wheels of the vehicle. Most EVs have an automatic transmission.

 

OBC – On-board charger

The OBC is a device built into the EV that converts AC power from external sources, such as a chargepoint, to DC power that charges the vehicle’s battery.

 

Controller

The controller regulates electrical energy from the battery, getting its main input from the pedal when pushed by the driver. This pedal setting will determine the frequency or voltage variation that will enter the motor, and at the same time determine the car’s speed.

 

Thermal management system

This system maintains a proper operating temperature range for the engine, motor, power electronics and other components.

 

Torque

The force that rotates the tires of a vehicle. Electric motors produce torque instantly from a stop, so speed does not need to be built up like in ICE vehicles. This is why EVs tend to speed up much faster than petrol/diesel alternatives.

 

Regenerative braking

When the brake pedal is pressed and the vehicle is decelerating, the slowing momentum is transferred into charge for the battery.

 

Range

How far an EV can travel on a single charge, usually documented in miles.

 

Drag coefficient (Cd)

The measurement of a vehicle’s wind resistance. The higher the drag coefficient, the harder the motor must work to push the vehicle forward.

 

SOC – State of charge

The amount of energy currently stored in the battery, displayed as a percentage. If an EV has 50% SOC, the battery is charged to 50% of its full capacity.

 

Charging infrastructure

 

Tethered

A tethered chargepoint has a charging cable permanently attached. This cable cannot be removed.

 

Untethered

An untethered chargepoint has a detachable cable. This allows EV owners to swap out the charging cable if an alternative is required for a different type of vehicle.

 

Type 1 connector

A plug for connecting an EV to a chargepoint. Only older EV models in the UK use this type of plug. There are Type 1 to Type 2 converters available for older models of vehicles.

 

Type 2 connector

The most common type of plug for connecting an EV to a chargepoint. As of 2014, all plug-in cars must use a Type 2 socket. 

 

Level one charging

The slowest way to charge an EV. Level one charging works well for PHEVs as they often have a smaller battery size, but is also suitable for home charging when a vehicle is plugged in overnight.

 

Level two charging

This is the most common level for everyday charging as it can charge up to 10 times faster than level one.

 

Level three charging

This is the fastest of the three and is the level of charging used for fast charge and Tesla supercharge. It’s uncommon for level three charging to be installed at home due to the high voltage supply that is required. In the UK, these are most commonly found on motorways and main A roads.

 

Single-phase power supply

Power flows through a single conductor, allowing EV owners to charge their vehicles through a single-phase power outlet. Single-phase is a more popular choice for residential chargepoint installations as it is suitable for most existing power supplies and therefore does not require a costly power upgrade.

 

Three-phase power supply

Power flows through three conductors, allowing EV owners to charge their vehicles through a three-phase power outlet. Three-phase charging has a higher power transfer capacity than single-phase charging.

 

Smart charging

A chargepoint that supports smart charging will charge an EV whilst the demand for electricity is lower. This not only saves the driver money by using cheaper electricity rates but also helps to prevent unwanted intervals of high demand for electricity from the grid.

 

Dynamic load balancing

A system that monitors power loads on the circuit, allocating electricity to the appliance that needs it the most. This allows appliances to run simultaneously without the risk of overloading the circuit.

 

Charging pedestal

A charging pedestal is a freestanding mount for EV chargepoints. They are used in locations where attaching the chargepoint directly to the wall is not possible.

 

Hopefully this glossary has helped you understand some of the common terms used when talking about EVs and EV charging infrastructure. If you’re looking to purchase an EV chargepoint but still have some questions about which one is best for your vehicle and situation, contact our expert team today.