Ever get confused about the jargon floating around about buying and maintaining a vehicle? Electric vehicles are a daunting prospect to many, and the abundance of acronyms that come with the buying process can be confusing and over-whelming. This blog aims to wash those worries away and teach you all the jargon you could need to know!
Most of the world’s leading car manufacturers now offer at least one EV option in their roster of vehicles, so there’s a huge number of vehicles to choose from. Whatever type of EV you choose to purchase, many will have similar jargon used surrounding the production, features, performance, and handling of the vehicle.
To help you on your electric car buying experience, we’ve written clear explanations to some of the commonly found jargon used in the automotive industry. Test your knowledge with our quiz and take a read of the full list of terms below.
An all-electric battery EV is a vehicle that is solely powered by an electric motor with a lithium-ion battery. To recharge the battery, the vehicle must be plugged into a power source.
A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is an area where targeted action is being taken to improve air quality, by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering the zone. A CAZ zone can be a single road or a part of the city, and it can be charging or non-charging.
Non-charging zones work on improving air quality by improving traffic flow management and public transport networks. Whereas charging zones take a direct approach by simply charging any vehicle that’s unexempt that enters the zone. The charge is usually based upon your vehicle’s emissions.
Standardised by the EU, this connector combines two DC pins arranged below the Type 2 AC connector and uses 3 of the Type 2s pins. Found on most Type 2 BEVs.
A round four pin plug, this connector is only used for rapid charging points and is typically compatible with EVs manufactured by Asian brands e.g. Mitsubishi and Nissan. Can offer Vehicle to Grid (V2G) but has less power than CCS and requires two separate sockets.
An electric vehicle gets its power directly from a big pack of batteries. EV batteries are like a scaled-up version of the Lithium-ion battery in your mobile phone. When the car is charging, electricity is used to make chemical changes inside its batteries. When its driving, these changes are reversed to produce electricity.
A government grant is a financial award given by the government for a beneficial project, not expected to be repaid. In the UK, you can get a discount on the price of a brand new low-emission vehicle through a grant the government gives to vehicle dealerships and manufacturers. The maximum grant available for cars is £1,500.
Hybrid vehicles are a mixture of an electric motor and a combustion engine. However, unlike the PHEV, you do not plug the car in to recharge the battery. A hybrid battery is charged through the cars motion, meaning you will need to use fuel to recharge the battery.
Hire purchase finance divides the cost of a car into manageable monthly payments with a set interest rate. Unlike other types of financing, hire purchase has no yearly mileage limit. The car is yours to keep at the end of the agreement, after all outstanding payments have been completed.
Mild hybrids also have a small electric motor, but unlike full hybrids, it is solely used to assist the petrol engine. The car cannot drive on battery power alone.
Miles Per Kilowatt Hour measures ‘fuel’ economy in electric vehicles.
kW stands for kilowatt. It’s used to measure the power in an EV.
kWh stands for kilowatt hours.
A rechargeable battery which can power laptops and mobile phones to hybrid and electric cars. These batteries are light weight, high energy dense and rechargeable.
Office for Low-Emission Vehicles. The government department tasked with supporting Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV).
An electric car lease is similar to renting a regular car. Monthly payments are based on the mileage agreed upon at the start of the contract. Electric car leases often have cheaper monthly payments compared to other financing options. At the end of the agreement, you simply return the vehicle to the lender, with nothing further owing (subject to excess mileage and return conditions).
Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) is a good choice for people who know they will want to change cars frequently. Monthly payments are agreed upon by using the length of the contract and an agreed-upon yearly mileage restriction. PCP has three end of contract options - you can pay to keep the car, trade it in or return it.
A plug-in hybrid is similar to a BEV in the way that you need to plug it in to recharge the battery. However, these vehicles also have a combustion engine installed which provides additional power from a regular fuel source. Due to the two engines the range is a lot smaller as there is less space for the electric motor and battery pack.
Range is the distance an electric vehicle can travel on a fully charged battery.
The term given to a fear of running out of charge while driving a plug-in electric vehicle. This fear can be avoided by top-up charging wherever you park throughout the day and en-route charging on longer journeys.
Miles of range per hour of charge.
RDE is a new test developed by the European Commission to more accurately reflect the emissions produced on the road, especially Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) and Particle Material (PM). RDE does not replace the worldwide harmonised light vehicle testing procedure (WLTP) but compliments it. RDE ensures that cars deliver low emissions over “on the road” conditions. You might see ‘RDE’ used when looking for a news vehicle.
An EV that has only an electric drivetrain, but a small petrol generator to charge the battery when range is depleted for longer trips. Often considered a type of PHEV.
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 a traditionally powered car.
Using the same technology used in public transport travel cards, these cards are used by many older charge points to allow access to EV charging.
Superchargers are high powered electric vehicle chargers. Superchargers deliver energy rapidly, and gradually slows down as the battery fills. The supercharger network has been owned and exclusively available to use by Tesla since their inception. Tesla have begun opening up their supercharger network to other manufacturers that use the CCS connection.
In an EV, the way torque is generated is different to a traditional internal combustion engine, but EVs can hit their maximum torque quicker. The way an electric motor inside an EV generates torque that produces the necessary force to get the car moving quicker than its conventional counterpart. While EVs won’t be hitting speeds similar of a Ferrari or Lamborghini, the instant torque gives them great acceleration from a dead stop.
The practice of plugging in your electric vehicle whenever you park while out and about, making use of the time your car is not in use to add charge to your battery. This helps avoid range anxiety and means you will rarely find yourself waiting for your car to charge.
A five-pin plug that also features a clip, this connector is common in the US and is typically found on EVs manufactured by Asian and US brands (e.g. Nissan, Mitsubishi and GM/Vauxhall/Opel). However, its prominence is fading as Nissan have moved to Type 2.
A seven-pin plug with one flat edge, this connector was originally favoured by European brands e.g. BMW, VW group, but is now becoming the most popular on all cars. Can carry three-phase power and locks into the socket of a charging point.
The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is an area of London where the most polluting vehicles must pay a fee in order to use the roads. The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force in April 2019, replacing the previous T-charge. The ULEZ charge applies 24 hours a day, every day, excluding Christmas Day (25th December).
WLTP is the new method for measuring fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, replacing the old NEDC. You might see ‘WLTP’ when looking for a new vehicle.
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.