- AC Charging - AC, or alternating current, is the electricity flow that’s used to power houses. AC current can also be used to charge the batteries in an electric car, and is most commonly done using a home wallbox (such as those provided by Octopus Energy). It’s not as fast as the DC chargers found at public charge points, but can still be a cheap and easy way to top your EV up overnight.
- Auxiliary Battery - Auxiliary batteries are one of the components that are found in both electric cars as well as traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) powered cars. In electric cars, you will mostly come across 12-volt batteries, which are used to power low energy consumption items such as the alarms, central locking or head/tail lights. The auxiliary battery is also not to be confused with an electric car’s main battery, which operates at 400 or 800 volts. It’s also worth remembering that auxiliary batteries in an electric car are charged as it is being driven, and can go flat just like they do in a petrol/diesel alternative. So be sure to know where the 12-volt auxiliary battery is located, allowing you to recharge it if it does go flat.
- Battery - One of the most important parts of an electric car, the ‘main’ battery is used to power the electric motor(s), which enables drive. There are two commonly used battery types in the industry today: Lithium-ion and Nickel-metal hydride. The former is predominantly adopted in all-electric cars, while the latter is used more commonly in hybrid vehicles. Battery technology is almost constantly improving, with manufacturers and developers looking for more efficient ways to create and extract the best range capabilities from car batteries, since this will be an integral part of both the present and the future of travel.
- Battery Capacity - This refers to the amount of energy - and therefore charge - that a battery can hold when it’s been fully charged. This is comparable to the petrol/diesel reserves found in a conventional ICE-powered car, and is usually displayed along a car’s head-up display or infotainment screen. A battery’s capacity will decrease over time, which means less range, so you should get it checked once in a while to see if it needs addressing. This is also linked to ‘usable capacity,’ which is explained further down in this article. You can also find out more about battery degradation by clicking here.
- Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) - Battery electric vehicles are electric vehicles that make use of a rechargeable battery to power the motor, providing propulsion. The UK Government has currently set a 2030 ban on the sales of all new emissions producing vehicles, so with most manufacturers turning one, if not both eyes towards zero-emissions vehicles, the likelihood is that you will be driving one sooner rather than later.
- Battery Health - Essentially, this is an extension of the previous point. With so many electrical items used in daily life, it’s pretty common to have experienced battery health degradation before - especially with smartphones. In the same way, your car’s main battery will degrade over time and need replacing. It was once a misconception that EV batteries will need to be replaced frequently, but this has since been debunked as advancements in technology and manufacturing methods have proven otherwise.
- Battery Management System (BMS) - The Battery Management System is responsible for looking after the electronics within an electric car’s battery cells or pack, and is present to ensure that they are working both properly and safely. It also makes sure that the voltage levels remain consistent throughout the car, and does so by measuring data (such as environmental factors) that could play a role in affecting how the batteries are working. Batteries consist of cell “banks,” which receive, store and expel energy in as efficient a way it can in order to try and preserve the battery’s health, so the BMS is an integral part of any EV.
- Battery Warranty - According to the National Grid, an EVs battery is expected to last from between 100,000 and 200,000 miles, with manufacturers often providing warranties for around eight years. These are in place so that, in the event that your EVs battery does need to be replaced, it can be done so under the warranty cost.
- CCS Connector - An abbreviation for ‘Combined Charging System,’ the CCS connector is a device that allows electric cars to be compatible with the public DC fast chargers. It has practically become the norm on modern EVs, and is made up of a Type 2 Connector with two extra pins which give it DC compatibility.
- CHAdeMO Charging - CHAdeMO means ‘CHArge de MOve,’ and is a type of electric car connector that was introduced by a contingent of Japanese manufacturers back in 2010. It offers rapid charging with compatible cars, and while they aren’t as popular as they once were, several common electric cars still accept CHAdeMO charging. Some examples of these include the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Citroen C-Zero.
- Chargepoint - A chargepoint refers to a group of charging docks that have been set up in a public space, and can be used to replenish an electric car’s charge. As of January 2022, there are over 28,000 public chargers available in the UK. These can either be located in the aforementioned dedicated chargepoints, or accessed through the growing number of lamp post chargers being made available on public streets. At chargepoints, customers can find a number of various charging cables, since the type of cable required is not universal and can be different, depending on the manufacturer. You can even download apps to find ones nearest to you, and also use them to pay.
- Charge Port Location - This is where your charging cable entry point - otherwise known as the port - is located. It can be located in various sections of the car, and will often be explained as being in the front, middle or rear of a car, in addition to whether it’s on the driver side or passenger side (geography dependent). ‘Fast charge port location’ is another phrase that stems from charge port location, and indicates the fast charging cable entry point.
- Charging - Perhaps the most self-explanatory (and relevant!) word associated with electric cars. Charging means to replenish the batteries of an electric car - something which is done by attaching a relevant charging cable type to the car’s plug-in socket. Charging is either done at home or at a public chargepoint, with the latter generally considered to be the quicker method.
- Charging Speed - Another key piece of vocabulary, and one that’s increasingly growing in importance as more of the world transitions into electric propulsion. Charging speed refers to the speed at which the electricity is pumped from the source (i.e.public chargepoint) to the car, and is measured in kW (kiloWatts). It can also be calculated in Miles Per Hour, which you can find out more about in our in-depth guide explaining electric car charging speeds, which can be accessed here.
- Charging Times - Again, this word acts as an extension of the previous point - can you see how many overlaps there are now with electric car jargon? Charging times will be determined by several factors. In particular, which type of charger is being used, since this will regulate the amount of charge being expelled (charge rate). It’s worth noting that this can also depend on several factors, such as your car’s preexisting charge level, or how busy that particular chargepoint is. Click here to read our list of the ten fastest charging cars on the market right now!
- DC Charging - Currently, the fastest way of charging an electric car is through DC (direct current) charging. This can be done at public fast charging stations, where 50kW stalls are common. Modern electric cars can charge from 20 to 80 percent in around 40 minutes using these stalls. Ultra-fast DC charging stalls are also being introduced more frequently at public charging networks, with up to 150kW provided there.
- Destination Charger - You can think of destination chargers as a type of public charger that’s found in locations where people often end their journeys, rather than stop mid-journey for a break. Destination chargers are normally found in places like campsites, hotels or supermarkets, while specialised mid-journey charge points most commonly refers to service stations. Destination chargers also charge at a comparatively slower rate, since they are more similar to home charging over a longer period of time rather than a quick recharge burst.
- Electric Motor(s) - You can think of the electric motor(s) in an EV as its equivalent to a petrol/diesel-powered engine. Essentially, the batteries are charged and then electricity is distributed from them to the motor, which sends drive to the wheels. Most EVs will come with a choice of single or dual motor configurations, with the second option offering, as expected, more power. Dual motor layouts are also common among four-wheel drive cars for the additional drive they offer. Single motor batteries are often cheaper and can travel for longer distances.
- Electric Vehicle (EV) - An EV is a car that operates using an all-electric drivetrain, with propulsion granted by at least one electric motor. The motor is then paired with and powered by at least one battery, which will need to be recharged after a given distance in much the same way that a conventional petrol/diesel-powered car needs to be refuelled.
- Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) - Fuel cell electric vehicles are electric cars that are powered by hydrogen fuel cells. They are still fairly uncommon in the UK, as the infrastructure and growth is still in its early stages. You can read our full-length explainer guide on FCEVs and how they work by clicking here.
- Heat Pump - When being used, combustion engines get hot. Very hot. This allows drivers of traditional ICE-powered cars to easily warm their interior space up when required. But in an EV, there is no engine to produce warm air, so how do you heat the cabin up? Simple: with a heat pump. This device uses a mixture of condensation, compression and evaporation to heat the cabin up - something you’ll definitely want if you live in the UK during the winter months!
- Home Charger - A home (or domestic) charger is a device attached outside of your home which is used to charge up your electric car’s batteries, and usually refers to a wallbox (explained further below) that’s been installed. In the event that you can’t/don’t have a wallbox, residents often use on road lamp post chargers (if available) from charging network providers such as Ubitricity. Alternatively, you could use a low-power source from a socket within your home, but be wary, this will take a substantial amount of time to charge your electric car.
- Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) - This is a car that utilises both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. These are further sub categorised into mild hybrids (MHEV), full hybrids (FHEV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) - all of which are explained in greater detail in this article.
- Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) - ICE refers to the petrol and diesel-powered engines that have long been the driving force behind our traditional automobiles. And while it has proven to be an instrumental liberator in providing our species with the freedom of long-distance movement, the negative environmental impact caused by ICE has been clear for us all to see. This is the reason humanity sought alternative propulsion solutions that could help us achieve net-zero, and it’s why EVs have become a commonplace in society.
- ICEing - The act of parking an ICE car in a dedicated public charge point space that’s meant for an electric car. Essentially, this means that the space is occupied by a car (and person!) that doesn’t need to be there - which would, understandably, anger EV drivers that may need it.
- kW - kW is short for kiloWatt, and refers to the electricity flow rate, which is a crucial part of EV charging. The ‘W’ is always capitalised in reference to its founder, James Watts - the man who also developed the idea of horsepower.
- kWh - Kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the total capacity amount of the battery, so how much charge it can hold. In an equivalent ICE-powered car, the capacity would refer to the fuel tank size - helping you to understand how much petrol/diesel can be stored. The kWh of an electric car is essentially the battery version of this.
- Low Emission Zone (LEZ) - Low Emission Zone is an area of land, normally within a city, where heavily polluting vehicles will be required to pay a congestion charge fee to enter, or could be restricted entirely. These zones have been created in a bid to reduce carbon emissions within heavily polluted areas, with the long-term goal of reducing our carbon footprint in populated areas.
- Max Charging Speed - The max charging speed of an electric car refers to the highest possible rate at which the car can allow electricity to pass through into its batteries at a time. Every car has a max charging speed limit, and won’t be able to take in more speed than this figure. You can find out more about electric car charging by clicking here.
- Mild Hybrid (MHEV) - A mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) is a type of car that uses an internal combustion engine that has been paired with a small battery for assistance, which recoup some of the energy that would normally be lost by utilising a system known as “regenerative braking” (see below). They cannot be driven on electric power alone. Find out more about MHEVs by viewing our guide.
- Miles Per kiloWatt Hour (MpkWh) - Miles per kilowatt-hour refers to the number of miles that an EV can do per kWh of charge - so mpkWh practically determines efficiency. The larger the mpkWh of a car, the more economical it is.
- Office For Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) - OLEV is the abbreviation for The Office for Low Emission Vehicles, which is a Government-supported group that’s a part of the Department for Transport and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, It focuses on grants and incentives that work in support of electric cars. An example of this was the former Plug-in Car Grant. OLEV has now been renamed ‘OZEV,’ and focuses on zero-emission vehicles.
- Platform - Sometimes known as an “EV dedicated platform,” is the frame upon which an electric vehicle is built. Platforms usually contain building block elements, and are often shared among several models within a manufacturers range. Once a platform has gone through its testing phase and is deemed both safe and strong enough, the body, chassis and power unit are then installed atop of it.
- Plug-In Car Grant (PICG) - Stopped earlier this year, the Plug-in Car Grant was a scheme offered by the Government between 2011 and 2022 which sought to offer the public a certain amount of savings when they purchased a new electric car - usually between £1,500 and £5,000. The incentive was scrapped in order to focus on improving public charging infrastructure. An example of this is the EV chargepoint grant, whereby the Government could provide funding of up to 75 percent towards the cost of installing an electric vehicle smart chargepoint at domestic properties across the UK. It replaced the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) on 1 April 2022.
- Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) - A PHEV is the most advanced stage of an ICE and electric motor combination, and can be driven on electric power alone. They are, as the name suggests, charged by plugging them into a home charger or public dock. Generally, PHEV are designed to be used in all-electric mode when travelling around town, or for short motorway journeys, since they provide most of their overall range via the combustion engine. Find out the main differences between a HEV and a PHEV by clicking here.
- Preheating - This is a feature that is being seen more frequently in EVs these days. Preheating is when the car warms/cools its cabin temperature to your required amount while charging, before you set off and drive. Since this is done while the car is still plugged-in, it means you’re not wasting any charge to heat the car up once you set off.
- Radio Frequency Identity Cards (RFID) Cards - RFID Cards are used to gain access to some public chargepoints, and can be done so by tapping the card against the corresponding touchpad reader on a charging dock, beginning the charging process. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the same as a contactless transaction, and you’ll often need to hold an online account for that particular RFID Card with the associated provider.
- Range - This refers to the amount of distance you can travel before your car will need a recharge, and can sometimes be called ‘electric range’. Your range can be determined by several factors, such as how much heating is being used, or how fast you are going. It’s important to ensure that you’ve got more than the required amount of range before setting off on a journey, or that you’ve planned your pit stops accordingly, since running out of charge can be an uncomfortable situation - just like running out of petrol/diesel would be.
- Range Anxiety - Range anxiety, or sometimes known as charging anxiety, is the fear of running out of charge while driving, and being too far away from an electric car chargepoint to top-up your range. With ample planning, either by charging your car ahead of time, or by mapping out where you’ll stop for a recharge, range anxiety can be nullified. Despite this, range anxiety is a topic which is still raising concerns for many: but is there actually any substance behind it? Find out more here.
- Range Extender (REx) - Range extenders are combustion engine cars that also utilise a small generator-esque auxiliary power unit known as a ‘range extender,’ which allows them to boost range slightly. Range extenders have the ability to run solely on electric power, but as soon as the charge runs out, the combustion engine will kick in. They are relatively uncommon cars these days, especially in comparison to modern hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, with examples like the BMW i3 and the Chevrolet Volt now no longer in production.
- Real World Range - ‘Real world range’ means what the range of an electric car is under real world conditions, and is calculated by WLTP assessors (see below). You should always look at the real world range estimate of a car as opposed to the standard range figures given by a manufacturer, since the real world range will likely be more accurate.
- Regenerative Braking - Often stylised as ‘regen,’ regenerative braking is a type of technology that’s used to recoup energy that’s usually lost under braking is then regenerated and restored into the car’s battery. Many cars that now utilise regenerative braking also offer you the option to choose just how much of it is applied. With regen at its strongest setting, the car will practically feel like it’s automatically braking when you lift off the accelerator. So, where three pedals was once the norm in driving, talk of single pedal driving has now come about.
- Smart Charging - Smart charging is allowing your car to charge during points of the day when demand isn’t as high, which not only helps ease the stress on the national grid, but allows you to charge during times when it’s cheaper. As a result of this, energy suppliers are able to control and distribute electricity efficiently via an app, platform or website. Users can then use their smart functionality to start and monitor a charging session remotely, from any place, and at any time.
- State of Charge (SoC) - SoC, or state of charge, refers to the amount of charge currently left in your battery. Essentially, it’s the equivalent of checking how much petrol/diesel is in your ICE-powered car by looking at the corresponding gauge. In an EV, the state of charge is predominantly displayed as a percentage, while ICE cars will have a fuel gauge and/or a numerical value on a head-up display or infotainment screen.
- Tesla Supercharger - Tesla Superchargers are electric car chargers created by Tesla, and while it would solely work with Tesla cars in the past, the brand has stated that its chargers will become universally accessible to EV users of other car manufacturers in the UK in the near future.
- Tethered/Untethered Charger - This means whether or not a charger has a lead constantly attached to it or not. Rapid chargers will be tethered (attached), but many fast chargers are not. This means you’ll need to bring your own cable - something that’s sometimes provided with your car, or can be purchased as an optional extra.
- Three-Phase - A three-phase charger is an outlet which enables 11kW or 22kW charging, and can be purchased for home use. If your home doesn’t already have one (don’t expect it to, they’re uncommon!) you’ll need to gain clearance from your electricity Distribution Network Operator, since they deal with the infrastructure and power lines/supplies local to you.
- Torque - Torque is the rotational force exerted on an ICE or electric motor, and is an important metric for a number of reasons. It’s also frequently associated with EVs, because they produce a lot of it. You can read our comprehensive explainer guide to torque by clicking here.
- Trickle Charge - This is the slowest way of charging an EV, and refers to using a common three-prong 220v plug. It’s best to avoid trickle charging where possible, and should only really be done in emergency situations, and having consulted with your energy provider to ensure there will not be any dangers that could arise.
- Type 1 Connector - Type 1 connectors are currently the most common type of AC charging plug you’ll find in continents outside of Europe, such as Asia and North America. They deliver between 3.7 and 7kW of power, and can be recognised from their five-pin attachments. There is no locking mechanism, and they utilise single phase power.
- Type 2 Connector - Type 2 connectors are the industry standard AC charging plug types that you’ll find in Europe, and can deliver electricity at between 7 and 22kW, with the former being more widely used. They will have 7-pins, contain locking mechanisms and can carry three phase power.
- Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) - Ultra Low Emission Zone is the name for a given space - normally within a metropolitan area - where the Government has maintained a zero-emission restriction for polluting cars. It’s been done in a bid to try and clean the air in cities, and the most commonly referred to ULEZ zone is that in London. You’ll need to pay a fee to drive within the ULEZ zone if your car is non-compliant, and a heavy fine is issued for those that don’t. More information on the UK’s clean air zones can be found here.
- Usable Capacity - Often, electric cars will only let you use most of the available battery capacity, but not all of it. The reason for this is in the instance that it will need some reserves in the case of an emergency, such as if the battery is running low on charge and it needs to switch over to ‘limp’ mode. This often means that the range percentage displayed on your dashboard/infotainment screen is slightly lower than what it really is, since the ‘usable’ capacity is stated, not the ‘total’ capacity.
- Vehicle to Grid (V2G) - V2G is a means of sending excess electricity stored in an EVs battery back to the grid during times of peak demand in order to help ease the load on the network, receiving some money back in return. The foundations are already being set for V2G to become a viable future solution to help manage peak grid usage hours. For instance, Mitsubishi has previously stated plans to offer V2G compatibility with the Outlander PHEV, while Nissan is already actively promoting it with the LEAF.
- Vehicle to Load (V2L) - V2L is a component included in some electric vehicles that allows them to provide AC power to external electric items, such as laptops or even TVs, using stored electricity in its batteries. There are several models on the market that are already actively being promoted for their V2L capabilities, such as the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and the Kia EV6.
- Wallbox - A wallbox is a type of home charger that can be installed, normally in a driveway, garage or similar area in or outside your house, that can charge an EV substantially quicker than a conventional three-pin plug. And given that three-pin plugs only charge at 3kW, a dedicated wallbox is the much more realistic alternative in the long run. There are a number of providers that offer wallboxes, with Smart Home Charge being one such example. Its range includes Tesla Wall Connectors and even Ohme Home Chargers, with monthly payment options also available to help spread the costs. This is something which may be of interest to customers, given that the Government grants which previously existed for home charger installations have now been scrapped. It’s also worth noting that home chargers can be accessed using a mobile phone app for remote operation (Smart), so you should also consider if you’ll need this or not before committing to a purchase.
- WLTP - Also known as The Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, the WLTP test is conducted on new vehicles to determine how efficient they are. The test also underwent a revamp several years back, and aims to help make the entire lifecycle of a car more efficient and green.
Note: This list will be updated on an ongoing basis - if anything that you believe should be added is missing, please state it in the comments section below!