A Guide to Electric Vehicles: Understanding the Latest Lingo

A Guide to Electric Vehicles: Understanding the Latest Lingo

By James Fisher

Vehicle Types

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining popularity year by year, with drivers across the globe looking to keep up with the latest trends in this evolving technology. It’s important for potential buyers to understand the various types of EVs on the market today. Here are some of the most common types:

Electric Vehicle (EV)

EVs are vehicles that use an electric motor to power the wheels. They can be divided into two categories: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Plug-in Vehicle (PiV)

A PiV is any vehicle that can be plugged into an external power source to charge its battery.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

BEVs are fully-electric vehicles that run entirely on battery power. They have zero emissions and are highly efficient, making them a popular choice among environmentally conscious drivers.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

HEVs are cars that use both battery power and a fuel-powered engine. While they may offer better fuel efficiency compared to traditional vehicles, they still produce emissions.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

PHEVs are hybrid electric vehicles that can be charged using an external power source. Some PHEVs have lower emissions than petrol or diesel cars and can run purely on electric power for a short distance.

Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV)

ULEVs are vehicles that produce very low emissions, with tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions of less than 75g/km. All BEVs are considered ULEVs, and some hybrids and lightweight fuel-powered cars also fall into this category.

Range-extended EV (RE-EV or REx)

RE-EVs are electric vehicles that have a backup petrol generator to extend their range. While not as common as other EVs, the RE-EV offers a unique option for those in need of a longer range. However, it is worth noting that RE-EVs are not as environmentally friendly as BEVs since they generate electricity from fossil fuels.

Full Hybrid or “Self-Charging” Hybrid

This type of hybrid vehicle can charge its own battery using energy generated from braking and coasting. While full hybrids can be more efficient than traditional petrol or diesel engines, their electric range is usually shorter compared to BEVs.

Charging Connector Types

Understanding the different types of charging connectors is essential for EV owners. Here are the most common ones:

Type 1

A five-pin plug commonly found on EVs made by Asian and American manufacturers, such as Nissan, Mitsubishi, and GM. Its popularity has decreased since Nissan started using Type 2 connectors.

Type 2

The European standard charging connector. Every EV sold to European specifications must have a Type 2 connection. It has one flat edge and seven pins and is widely used by brands like BMW, Volkswagen, and Tesla.


A round, four-pin plug that serves as the Japanese standard connector. It is compatible with EVs manufactured by Asian brands like Mitsubishi and Nissan. However, Nissan is the only manufacturer that still sells cars with CHAdeMO connectors, as their newer models now use CCS.

CCS Charging Socket

CCS (Combined Charging System) charging socket is a European standard that is gaining popularity among American and Asian manufacturers. The CCS connector looks similar to Type 2 but has two extra contacts at the bottom, enabling DC fast charging.

UK 3 Pin

The three-pin plug is the emergency charging option in the UK and Ireland. It lacks an integrated locking mechanism, making it less secure than other types of connectors. While it’s not recommended as a standard charging solution, it can be used with a standard plug socket in case of emergency.

EV Driving Terms

To fully grasp the world of EVs, it’s vital to understand specific driving terms. Here are some key ones:

Regenerative Braking

A technology used in some electric and hybrid cars that allows the vehicle to capture kinetic energy produced during braking and store it as electrical energy. This process helps extend the driving range of EVs and reduces wear and tear on the braking system.

All Wheel Drive (AWD)

AWD refers to vehicles that deliver power to all four wheels, providing better traction and stability in various driving conditions. AWD is not exclusive to electric vehicles and is also found in certain petrol cars.

Dual Motor All Wheel Drive

Similar to AWD, dual motor all-wheel drive EVs have two motors – one for the front wheels and one for the back wheels. This allows for precise control of power distribution, enhancing traction and stability in slippery conditions.

Key Concepts

Understanding certain concepts related to EVs is crucial for making informed decisions. Here are some important ones:

Top Up Charging

Top-up charging involves regularly charging your EV to keep the battery topped up. This is done by plugging in your EV whenever possible and setting the battery limit to 85% to ensure long battery life.

Home Charging

Home charging refers to charging your EV at home, usually overnight. It is the most convenient and cost-effective method, allowing you to take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity rates.

En-route Charging

En-route charging involves charging your EV while on the go, typically during long-distance trips. This type of charging is crucial for reaching your destination without running out of power.

Range per Hour

The range per hour of charge indicates the distance an EV can travel after one hour of charging. This value varies depending on the charger type, battery size, and state of charge.

Vehicle to Grid (V2G)

V2G is a technology that enables EVs to supply energy to homes during peak demand, reducing the strain on the grid. Harnessing the power of millions of EVs could potentially supply the entire United Kingdom with electricity.

Vehicle to Load (V2L)

V2L allows an EV to utilize its battery to power other devices or appliances, providing a portable power source in emergency situations or during outdoor activities.

RFID Cards

RFID cards are used to access public charging stations, allowing users to start and stop a charge and pay for the electricity used.

Kilowatt (kW) and Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

Kilowatt (kW) is a unit of power associated with electricity, while kilowatt-hour (kWh) measures the energy transferred or used in one hour by 1000 watts of power. kWh is often used to measure electric car battery capacity.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) vs Personal Contract Hire (PCH)

PCP is a type of hire purchase that allows you to own the car but carries the risk of depreciation at the end of the term. PCH, on the other hand, is a personal lease financial product, allowing you to rent a top-spec electric car and swap it for a new one at the end of the term.

Types of Charging

Different types of charging are available for EV owners. Here’s a breakdown:

AC Charging

AC charging utilizes alternating current, which is the same type of electricity used in most household appliances. It is typically used for home charging.

DC Charging

DC charging involves direct current, which is used to charge batteries. DC charging is necessary for rapid charging and is not suitable for home charging.

Slow Charging

Slow charging, also known as trickle charging, is the process of charging an EV using a regular 3 pin plug. It is the slowest charging option and not recommended as a standard charging solution.

Fast Charging

Fast charging, also referred to as home charging, is the most common type of home charging. It typically takes between four to eight hours to charge an EV fully and utilizes a Type 2 connector.

Destination Charging

Destination charging, also known as three-phase charging, is commonly found at locations with high energy use. It uses all the pins in a Type 2 connector and provides faster charging compared to home charging.

Rapid Charging

Rapid chargers can charge an EV up to 80% in just 20 minutes. These chargers can’t be installed at homes and are typically found at motorway service stations. Rapid charging allows for long-distance travel in electric cars.

Electric Car Batteries

EV batteries are responsible for storing energy in a chemical form, which is then converted into electrical energy to power the car’s motor. They are composed of many small cells that work together to transfer and store energy.

EV Battery

EV batteries are made up of multiple cells and serve as the primary energy storage device in an electric car. They store electrical energy that is generated during charging and discharge it to power the vehicle’s motor during use.


A cell is an individual energy storage device within a battery or battery pack. In EVs, the energy is distributed across thousands of cells, allowing for more efficient energy usage.


CO2, or carbon dioxide, is a greenhouse gas that is naturally present in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is also produced by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, and contributes to global warming and climate change. Additionally, EVs emit fewer particulate matter emissions compared to traditional fuel-powered cars.

Understanding the terminology and concepts associated with electric vehicles is essential for making informed decisions as a buyer. With the EV market continuously evolving, staying up to date with the latest lingo will help you navigate the world of electric cars more confidently. So why not consider embracing the future of transportation and invest in an electric vehicle?

Written by James Fisher
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