The Ultimate Glossary of Electric Vehicle Terms

Ultimate Glossary of Electric Vehicle Terms

We know that plenty of terms get thrown around when discussing electric vehicles. That’s why we put together this glossary of every EV definition you should know!


Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV): A motor vehicle that runs on fuel other than traditional petroleum fuels. 

Alternating Current (AC): An electric current that periodically reverses its direction at regular intervals, typically used in power supplies.

Ampere (amp): The unit of electrical current.


Battery: An electricity storage container that consists of one or more cells in which chemical energy is converted into electrical power. 

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV): A vehicle that runs purely on electric power. It will have an included battery that needs to be recharged as the car runs out of range. (Ex: Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, etc.)


CHAdeMO: A charging standard used exclusively for fast-charging. Some car manufacturers that are CHAdeMo compatible include: Tesla, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Kia, etc. 

Charging: Plugging in an electric vehicle to an outlet in order to refill the car’s battery with electricity. 

Charging Point: A location where electric vehicles can be plugged in and charged. These can be at home, work, or in a public location. 

Charging Station: A part of charging infrastructure that supplies electric energy for recharging electric vehicles. A charging station can also be referred to as an EVSE. 

Combined Charging System (CCS): A charging system that covers charging electric vehicles using the Combo 1 and Combo 2 connectors at up to 350 kilowatts.

Connector: A cable that connects to an electric vehicle allowing it to charge. Common types include: Type 1/SAE J1772, Type 2, CHAdeMO, Combined Charging System.


Direct Current (DC): A unidirectional electric current, so the flow of charge is always in the same direction. Electric car motors are either AC or DC.

DC Fast Charging: The fastest way to charge electric vehicles. By providing DC power directly to the battery, many vehicles are capable of getting an 80% charge in under an hour. 


Electric Vehicle (EV): A term used for BEVs and PHEVs but oftentimes is used to refer to purely electric vehicles (BEVs).

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE): Supplies electric energy to recharge electric vehicles. EVSEs are also referred to as EV charging stations.

EPA: An independent agency of the United States federal government for environmental protection. The agency has one of the toughest established testing methods for electric vehicles.  

Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (EREV): An electric vehicle powered by an electric motor with a small internal combustion engine present in order to generate additional electric power.  


Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV): Fuel Cell EVs use a hydrogen fuel cell to power its electric motor. A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical potential energy (energy stored in molecular bonds) into electrical energy. 


Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV): A hybrid vehicle is 100% fossil fueled. A small battery within the car is charged through regenerative braking which generates electric power. This works in tandem with a combustion engine. The most common type of hybrid is the Toyota Prius. 

Home Charging: Charging your electric vehicle while at home using a 110-120V or 240V outlet. 


Incentives: A payment or concession to stimulate greater output or investment. Governments and states often offer tax credits or incentives to encourage consumers to buy an electric car. 

Internal Combustion Engine (ICE): An internal combustion engine generates power by burning gasoline, oil, or other fuel with air inside the engine. Traditional, gas powered cars use internal combustion engines while electric vehicles have an electric motor. 


Kilowatt (kW): A kilowatt is a measure of 1,000 watts of electrical power. 

Kilowatt Hour (kWh): A kilowatt hour is a unit of energy pertaining to the amount of energy transferred in one hour by 1,000 watts of power. Electric car batteries are measured in kWh. For reference, 1 kWh is typically 3-4 miles of range. 


Level 1 Charging (Slow): The slowest level of charging an electric vehicle also known as trickle charging. This charger is usually plugged into a 120V wall outlet. A 30kWh electric vehicle would take around 20 hours to fully charge with Level 1. (A total charge of 100 miles at 5 miles of range added per hour).  

Level 2 Charging (Fast): A fast charger that is plugged into a 240V outlet. A 30kWh electric vehicle would take around 8 hours to fully charge. (A total charge of 100 miles at around 12 miles of range added per hour)

Level 3 Charging (Very Fast): Also known as DCFC, or DC Fast Charge. , is The fastest and most effective means for you to charge your EV. A 30kWh electric vehicle could take less than 1 hour to fully charge. (A total charge of 100 miles at around 50-100 miles of range added per hour depending on the type of level 3 charger).

Lithium Ion Battery: a type of rechargeable battery that is standard in electric vehicles. These batteries are expected to have a life of 8-10 years, with an expected 80% efficiency at 10 years.  


Miles per Gallon Gasoline Equivalent (MPGe): MPGe represents how many miles an electric vehicle is estimated to be capable of traveling compared to the amount of energy contained in a gallon of gas.


Off-Peak Charging: Charging your electric vehicle at a time when less EV owners are charging their cars. These times are less popular for charging and can often save you money as electricity rates will be lower. 


Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV): A vehicle that combines a traditional internal combustion engine with a rechargeable battery. This allows the car to run on purely electric power or extend its range using the gas engine and electric motor. 

Pure Electric Vehicle: A vehicle powered solely by electricity and on-board batteries.


Range: the maximum distance you can travel in an EV on pure electric power before having to recharge the battery.

Range Anxiety: The fear of your EV running out of charge while you are driving. This fear is often brought on by lack of or accessibility to charging stations.

Regenerative Braking: Using an EV’s motor as a generator to convert the energy lost when decelerating back into stored energy in the vehicle’s battery. When the car accelerates, it uses the stored energy from regenerative braking instead of tapping into other energy sources. 


Tesla Supercharger: a 480-volt DC fast-charging station built by Tesla for their electric cars. The charger allows the Model S to recharge to 80% within 30 minutes.

Torque: a twisting force that causes rotation. In cars, torque is a huge factor in a car’s ability to accelerate quickly. Electric motors can deliver maximum torque from zero revs, resulting in fast acceleration. 

Type 1/SAE J1772: A charging cable primarily used for home charging up to 240 volts AC. This is considered Level 2 charging. It is common on PHEVs.

Type 2: Also known as mennekes, is a charging cable commonly used in Europe. It is circular in shape with a flattened top and can charge between 3-50kW. 


Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle: a motor vehicle that emits low levels of vehicle emissions. In California, a ULEV is defined as a vehicle that emits 50% less polluting emissions than the average for new cars released in that model year. 

Utility Rate (Time of Use or TOU): The rate charged to an EV customer based on the total electricity used and time of day the electricity was used. Rates vary according to charging hours and can be more or less depending on high or low-peak charging times. 


Watt Hours per Mile (Wh/mi): Watt hour per mile is used to measure electric car energy economy. It measures how many watt hours of electricity a car consumes to travel a distance of one mile. 


Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV): A vehicle that emits no exhaust gas from the onboard source of power. These vehicles have no tailpipe emissions, no emissions from gasoline, and no emission control systems that deteriorate over time.