As we move toward the electric vehicle revolution, we are starting to hear more technical terms being passed around that a lot of people have not heard or seen before. Don’t worry, we were in the same boat as you once upon a time!

To make things a little simpler, we have pulled together a list of common electric car terminology to help you identify the different types of electric vehicles, charging currents and the many forms of EV charging points.

Types of EVs (Electric Vehicles)

An ‘EV’ is simply an acronym for ‘electric vehicle’. However, there are a few variants of electric vehicles and their accompanying terminology to get to grips with.

BEV (battery electric vehicle): A battery electric vehicle is powered solely powered by an all-electric powertrain.

HEV (hybrid electric vehicle): A hybrid electric vehicle combines an electric motor and an internal combustion engine (sometimes referred to as ICE) that charges the battery as well as powering the car when needed.

PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle): A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is very similar to a regular hybrid, however the electric system in the vehicle can be charged via a mains connection.

ICE (internal combustion engine): A vehicle with a traditional internal combustion engine are powered by petrol, diesel, biofuels or even natural gases. ICEs are significantly more efficient and have lower emissions than these from decades ago. However, their fundamental purpose, i.e. burning fuel to create power, remains the same.

Self-Charging Hybrid: “There is no such thing as a self-charging hybrid” according to Martyn Lewis of EV News Daily. Self-charging is an often-used term for HEVs but is misleading because any charge generated for the battery must come (directly or as a by-product) from the consumption of fossil fuels.


Types of Current

Electric vehicle charging points operate with two main types of currents:

AC (alternating current): Alternating current allows the energy to flow back and forth in an electrical system. This means the AC motor in an electric vehicle can recharge its own battery as well as powering the vehicle.

DC (direct current): Direct current runs directly into the vehicle in one direction to power the vehicle forward.


Types of Electric Vehicle Charging Points & Charging Terminology

There are various terms that people use when talking about different types of EV charging points and charging methods, such as:

Destination EV Charging: Destination charging refers to the charging of EVs at a location where the public are likely to stop or rest for a prolonged period of time. Examples include hotels, shopping centres, theme parks and holiday resorts. These electric vehicle charging points can often be a mix of fast and rapid EV chargers, as the vehicle is expected to be left for a number of hours.

DNO: Distribution Network Operators are the companies licensed within the UK to distribute electricity. In EV charging terms, DNOs are often associated with required upgrades to the electrical infrastructure to support larger electric car charging projects.

DoD: This stands for Depth of Discharge. DoD is the percentage of an EV battery that has been discharged compared to its overall capacity. The term DoD is often used when determining the lifespan of the battery. It is rarely recommended to discharge a battery completely as that will shorten its lifespan. Many manufacturers will artificially limit the DoD in order to prolong the battery’s life.

Fast EV charger: A fast charging car charger usually has kilowatts of between 7 and 24. Depending on the manufacturer and connection you have, these charge points will generally charge your vehicle in between 3-7 hours. Fast EV chargers are ideal for domestic, workplace and destination charging.

Fleet Charging: Fleet charging refers to the infrastructure required to charge a large number of vehicles that work in a company. Examples include; supermarket delivery vans, distribution companies like FedEx and DHL, and even home delivery, like Milk and More. They often require fast EV charging infrastructure for charging idle vehicles overnight and occasionally a rapid charger to top up vehicle batteries. This may either be throughout the day or while they are being reloaded.

Home Charging: Home EV charging occurs at a place of residence (home). Most home chargers can only charge to around 7kW as they only have a ‘Single Phase’ power supply. Larger homes may have a ‘Three Phase’ power supply and can charge their EV at a much faster rate.

kW: A kilowatt, is a measure of one thousand watts of electrical power.

kWh: A kilowatt-hour is a measure of battery capacity and relates to how much power can be provided for a period of time. Most EVs tend to get between 2 & 4.5 miles out of a kWh depending on the size of the vehicle and its software. For reference, a base Tesla Model 3 has a battery of 50 kWh which provides a range of around 220 miles.

Range: This is how far your vehicle can go on its current charge (a fully charged battery). The range will only be affected by performance and driving conditions.

EV rapid charger: An EV rapid charger usually starts with a kilowatt of 50 and normally will reach 150. EV rapid chargers offer super-fast electric car charging. They can charge up to 80% of the vehicle’s battery within one hour and are usually found at services stations for quick on the go use.

Single Phase: Single phase is the power supply found in a normal house. It’s generally lower power and can be identified by having only a single 100amp fuse where the power enters your house/meter. With a single phase power supply you’ll only be able to install an electric vehicle charging point of up to 7kW.

Smart charger: A smart electric car charger refers to a charging system where electric vehicles, charging stations and charging operators share data connections. Through smart EV charging, the charging stations may monitor, manage, and restrict the use of charging devices to optimize energy consumption.

Three Phase: Three phase is a much higher power rating than single phase and is more commonly found in businesses and very large houses. They can often be identified as having three 100amp fuses where the supply enters the building or the meter. With three phase, you’ll be able to install up to a 22kW EV charger.

Smart charging: Slows down or pauses charging for short periods of time, to keep the additional load from EV charging within the existing capacity of the electricity network, avoiding costly and disruptive upgrades.

Back office: The back office is where the magic happens; where smart charging networks are supported and IT & administrative functions are looked after.

RFID fob: Radio Frequency Identification technology is used to enable the exchange of data between key cards and readers. RFID cards have a uniquely identifiable tag, ideal for use in EV charging networks.

Technical Electric Vehicle Terminology

Creep Mode: No, this doesn’t hide your car in the bushes. Creep Mode is a software setting allowing many EVs to continue moving forward without the accelerator being pressed. This is similar to the crawl experienced in an ICE vehicle when left in gear.

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer refers to the original producer of a car’s parts. They’re better understood as the household names we see in automotive manufacturing, including VW, Ford, Peugeot and Mercedes Benz.

One-Pedal Driving: Thanks to regenerative braking, for most driving scenarios, EV drivers only need to lift their foot off the accelerator to slow the vehicle and bring it to a stop. Some vehicles, including Teslas, have a creep mode. This allows the vehicle to edge forward, even without pressing the accelerator.

Play & Pause Braking: Although we’ve so far only seen this mentioned with VW’s new ID3 models, we believe that Play and Pause relates to one-pedal driving which makes use of regenerative braking. In most cases, the driver only needs to lift off the accelerator to bring the vehicle to a complete stop.

Powertrain: This is what provides power to the vehicle. Powertrain contains the main components that produce the power to drive the car forward. This generally includes the engine, gearbox, transmission, drive shaft, and wheels.

Regenerative Breaking: Used in most electric vehicles, regenerative breaking is an energy recovery system. This helps extend the driving range as it converts excess kinetic energy from decelerating to be stored and used later when driving the vehicle. Essentially, the electric motor works as a generator. This means the power can move in both directions between itself and the car battery.

RPM: This stands for “Revolutions Per Minute”. RPM is the number of times the shaft of an electric motor turns through 360 degrees within one minute. RPM is also recognised as a term for petrol cars, diesel and other electric motor applications.

Torque: Torque is the twisting force that causes rotation. In the case of cars, torque rules and is the major factor in a car’s acceleration ability. If the torque is generous, the car’s throttle response will be much sharper. As RPM increases, petrol and diesel engines tend to deliver torque in a curved motion. As a result, at a certain RPM they will have reached their peak power. In contrast, electric motors can deliver a maximum torque from no revolutions per minute. Even from a standstill, the acceleration can be phenomenal.

W2W: Short for “Well-to-Wheel”, this is what measures the CO2 emissions of a vehicle. Well-to-Wheel takes into account how much fuel or electricity is produced. This is a fair analysis of the impact electric vehicles have on the environment, as they have zero emissions at the point of use but have an environmental impact earlier in the chain. However, to be compared fairly with a petrol or diesel vehicle, W2W needs to calculate all the emissions combined. This not only includes tailpipe emissions but also the drilling of oil, cleaning and transportation. Taking this into account, an average electric vehicle will produce 80g/km of CO2 compared with 147-161g/km for a normal car.

WLTP: The Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure. This is a body responsible for measuring emissions and fuel consumption. For electric vehicles, their main test is around the range those vehicles can achieve. WLTP is seen as a global standard in the industry, although has come into criticism for not reflecting the real-world performance of certain vehicle models.


Electric Car Terminology for Government Incentives

Home Charge Scheme: The OLEV home charge scheme provides funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing an electric vehicle charging point at a domestic property in the UK.

OLEV: Short for ‘Office for Low Emission Vehicles’, OLEV is the government body which manages UK EV and charging incentives.

OZEV: An abbreviation for the ‘Office for Zero Emission Vehicles’. The OZEV replaced the OLEV as part of the government’s ‘Road to Zero’ initiative.

Plug In Grant: A grant, which offers 25% off a new electric car’s purchase price. Grants of up to £5,000 can be received as contribution.

Workplace EV Charging Scheme: The OLEV workplace charge scheme was established to provide support towards the up-front costs of buying an electric car and installing an electric vehicle charge point. This stands currently at £350 per EV charging socket but up to £14,000 can be claimed for the whole project.

If you have any further queries about electric vehicle terminology or are interested in our EV charging services, get in touch with our friendly team at Elmtronics. Contact us on 0191 417 3719 or send an email to