The Electric Vehicle jargon buster

The Electric Vehicle jargon buster

As electric cars become more popular and widespread, here are the meanings of some of the terms you’ll start to hear more often

As we move towards the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, you’ll start to hear more technical terms being thrown around that you won’t have heard or seen before.

Not to fear though, as we give you a brief and simplified guide into what these mean and we’ve categorised them just so you know where you’re likely to hear them.

Electric vehicle jargon buster

Types of EVs

Although the term EV seems simple enough to understand, there are different types that you will encounter when looking through the market. They are BEVs, hybrids, PHEVs and the less likely FCV.

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicles are powered solely by an all-electric powertrain.

Hybrid – These vehicles combine an electric motor and an internal combustion engine (sometimes referred to as an ICE) that charges the batteries as well as powering the car when needed

PHEVs – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles are almost identical to the standard hybrids, but the electrical system can also be charged via a mains connection

FCVs – Fuel Cell Vehicles aren’t as widespread yet, but they use a fuel cell rather than a battery to power the electrical powertrain. Most of these currently use hydrogen as their fuel source

Electric vehicle jargon buster


Even though this may be common knowledge, it’s good to know the difference between AC and DC currents, and how they’re used in EVs.

AC – Alternating Current allows the energy to flow back and forth in an electrical system, meaning that AC motors in EVs can recharge their own batteries as well as power the car

DC – Direct Current is much simpler as the power runs in only one direction. But it therefore can’t do as much as AC, so is used in entry-level EVs and is usually much cheaper

Electric Vehicle jargon buster


When electric cars are being talked about, charging is one of the first topics on the agenda and here are some of the main types you will hear about if you want to get your electric car up to speed.

Fast charger – These can distribute charge to cars at between seven and 22 kilowatts depending on the manufacturer and connection you have, and these can charge your car in three to four hours

Rapid charger – If fast charging wasn’t fast enough, rapid charging uses a connection up 150 kilowatts and can charge an average EV battery in under an hour

Supercharger – You may have heard this in terms of producing more power for ICE engines, but this refers to the Tesla Supercharger, which Tesla customers can use with their vehicles. They can be found in cities and at motorway service stations, charging vehicles using a connection up to 120 kilowatts and refreshing the energy in less than two hours.

Electric vehicle jargon buster Tesla Model S supercharger

Other bits

Kilowatt – A kilowatt is a measurement of how many watts of energy a car develops

Kilowatt Hour – This is a measurement of how much energy a car will use in an hour

Range – Although manufacturers may quote a certain figure, this is how far your car can go on its current charge and can be affected by performance and driving conditions

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