YPS Insight: EV Glossary

Motoring |
18th March 2022
YPS-Insight-EVGlossary

Electric vehicles come with their own language, which can be an issue for anyone starting to look at them. Charging, batteries, power, and even little phrases have come about as the market has grown. We walk you through those that could prove most confusing in the YourParkingSpace EV Glossary.

Infographic for YPS Insight - EV Glossary

EV - Electric Vehicle

An electric vehicle is one that can be driven on electric power alone, rather than petrol, diesel, or LPG; simple really. Except there are sub-sets of electric vehicles, and EVs come under the term “electrified vehicle” which includes conventional hybrids. In reality, when most people refer to EVs they are talking about pure-electric vehicles, but these can also include range-extended EVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (see below)

Pure-electric vehicle 

Also referred to as a battery electric vehicle (BEV), this is somewhat redundant since almost all electric (and electrified) vehicles have a battery. Pure-EVs are powered by electricity alone, stored from a battery that can be recharged. This drives an electric motor, which turns the wheels.

Range-extended electric vehicle (REX)

Range-extenders are electric vehicles with their own on-board electric generator. Few and far between, REX - or REEVs - models have a small engine, usually petrol, which can run to extend the car’s range. This never drives the wheels; instead it is used to charge the car’s battery on the move.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV)

PHEVs combine a small electric powertrain - battery and motor - with a normal internal combustion system. It aims to offer the best of both worlds, with electric power available for somewhere typically between 20-30 miles (shorter and longer ranges are available), for typical daily runs - school drop-off, supermarket, commute etc. For those occasional longer trips, there is an engine available to extend that range to around 300-400 miles when using a full tank alongside a full charge. As the name suggests, these hybrids can be recharged from an external source, as well as with the engine.

Hybrid

Hybrids are electric vehicles, rather electrified vehicles. The distinction is slightly vague, but relies on common sense. A conventional hybrid sees an engine supported by an electric motor, rather than rely on the motor for continued drive for a number of miles. There is also no option to recharge the hybrid’s battery via a plug, instead it can only be charged while driven from the engine or from braking.

Mild hybrids

See “hybrids” above, but with even less electrical support. Mild hybrids are essentially petrol or diesel vehicles with a tiny electric motor built in - often a beefed-up starter motor - to help the car with engine stop/start systems, and when pulling away. Electrified, rather than electric.

kWh - kilowatt hour

Electric vehicle batteries have their capacity given in kWh. It is effectively the size of the fuel tank available to the driver so broadly speaking, the large the number, the further they can travel on a single charge. Increasingly given in both Gross and Net figures, since all EV batteries have a buffer at the top and bottom of their capacities to improve reliability and longevity. 

kW - kilowatt

This can get confusing, so it’s all about context. As a unit of power, kW are used in two different scenarios in the electric vehicle industry. See below:

kW - charging

EV charge points are rated by how fast they are, usually in terms of maximum power output over the course of an hour. A typical home charge point is rated at either 3.6 kW or 7.2 kW, public points tend to be 7, 11, or 22 kW, and rapid units charge at 50+ kW. Calculated by multiplying volts (V) by amps (A).

kW - vehicles

Since watts, and by extension kW, are a measure of power, they are used as a rating for electric motors in vehicles. Manufacturers tend to supply a horsepower figure as well, and increasingly internal combustion models will have kW figures stated alongside traditional horsepower, so a conversion is simple.

EV charge point

A unit that is dedicated to charging an electric vehicle. Available to provide either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC), and in a variety of power ratings, often classified as slow, fast, rapid, and ultra-rapid. Either tethered, with a cable attached to plug into an EV, or untethered, with a plug socket for the driver to plug-in their own cable.

EV charging speeds

There are two core ways to charge an electric vehicle - AC and DC. DC charging is faster than AC, but it is used in different situations.

AC - Alternating Current

The national grid suplies power in AC, but batteries store it in DC. So an electric vehicle will have an on-board charger, which converts the current from AC to DC. It's a cheaper way to install charge points, and effectively allows charging from any normal plug socket.

DC - Direct Current

Direct current is a faster way to charge an elctric car, but the charge points are larger and more expensive to install. With large numbers in one place, there is often an need to beef up the infrastructure as well. However, it brings charging times down from a number of hours, to often 30-40 minutes for a significant charge. By feeding power directly into the car's battery, charging can take place using much higher power systems.

Connectors

Term for the plugs used to charge an electric vehicle, covering a variety of charging standards. See below:

Type 1 - AC

Generally used in the US, it is most common to find on the first-generation Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on UK models - early market entrants essentially. 

Type 2 - AC

European standard, and found vast majority of electric vehicles, as well as most non-rapid public charge points. EVs are often supplied with a Type 2 - to - Type 2 cable, to plug in to both the vehicle’s and the charge point’s sockets.

CHAdeMO - DC

Japanese standard for rapid charging, like Type 1, it’s rarely found on EVs in the UK. 

CCS (Combined Charging System) - DC

CCS Type 2 is the European standard, used across the UK too. It features a top section that takes AC current for non-rapid charging, plus an additional section to the socket for CCS plugs to be used for DC charging, at rates of 50 kW up to 350 kW.

Tesla

Tesla has its own charging system, using the shape of the Type 2 plug/socket, but with additional software to allow plug-and-charge capability and/or Tesla-only charging. CCS has been rolled out across the entire Supercharger network, but Tesla Type 2 plugs are still found at Destination network sites.

Miles per kWh (m/kWh)

A measure of efficiency, m/kWh is the electric equivalent of miles per gallon (mpg). Europe’s version is kWh/100km, which equates to the fuel version of litres (l) per 100km. In UK statistics, the higher the figure, the more efficient the car, with anything between 4-6 m/kWh a good daily return. Conversely, kWh/100km scores are better with a smaller number.

Brake energy recuperation - regen

Brake energy recuperation is a system that uses the vehicle’s forward motion to charge the battery. By inverting the motor, charge can be added to the battery rather than drawing charge from it, handily boosting range. This is done either when touching the brake pedal, lifting off the throttle, or running downhill.

Range

Driving range of an electric vehicle, when quoted the distance able to be covered on a single charge from 100% to 0% as tested under WLTP laboratory conditions. A good way to compare vehicles, and gauge an approximate driving range available in real-world conditions. Most EVs will achieve 80-90% of their official WLTP figure without much difficulty.

Range anxiety

A common phrase when downplaying electric vehicles, describing the nervousness a driver can feel when range is low or plummeting. Somewhat outdated thanks to longer driving ranges being available to drivers, and greater education of how EVs work well.

Charger anxiety

Almost replacing range anxiety is charger anxiety, the uncertain feeling that arriving at a charge point, it will either already be in use, broken, or ICE’d (see below). Being circumvented by having greater numbers of chargers installed at a site, and higher numbers of public charge point sites around.

Battery

All motor vehicles have a battery, but when talking about an electric vehicle’s battery, it is usually referring to its drive battery - the pack that allows it to power the electric motor. Measured in kWh capacity (see above). Typically lithium-ion, there are stable, safe, and easy to charge and recharge, and slow to degrade. The next generation packs are expected to be solid-state batteries allowing for faster charging and greater energy capacity in a compact size, but we are years from seeing these as a commercially viable proposition.

Plug-in grants

There are various plug in vehicle grants available from the UK Government. These include:

Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG)

A maximum of £1,500 off the cost of a new electric car with a RRP of less than £32,000 and a driving range of at least 70 miles on a charge.

Plug-in Van Grant

Divided into two sections. Small vans (up to 2,500kg GVW) with CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and a 60 mile zero-emission range receive up to £2,500 off the cost of the vehicle. Large vans - between 2,500kg and 3,500kg GVW) get up to £5,000 off the vehicle cost as long as they cover at least 60 miles in zero-emission mode and emit less than 50g/km CO2.

There are also grants available for motorcycles, mopeds, taxis, small trucks, large trucks, and wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS)

The UK Government offers EV owners a grant reducing the cost of a fully installed electric vehicle charge point at their home. Points must be fitted by a registered installer, and certain criteria must be met, but otherwise it reduces the cost of a charger by up to £350.

Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS)

Like the EVHS, a Workplace Charging Scheme allows businesses and organisations the ability to claim up to £350 per socket off the cost of a fully installed charge point at non-domestic premises. Again, certain criteria must be met, and installation needs to be carried out by a registered installer.

Clean Air Zones - CAZ

Other terms include the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London, CAZs are being implemented in a number of UK towns and cities in an effort to reduce local air pollution. Air quality issues account for a significant number of deaths and illness-related health problems each year, and are worse in urban areas with greater amounts of traffic. Often, petrol and diesel vehicles must meet certain Euro standards to enter without being charged, or could be banned altogether. Electric vehicles, on the most part but not always, are allowed in with no fee to pay. Regulations very from zone to zone.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

An uncommon type of electric vehicle, but one that meets UK Government requirements, is a fuel cell electric vehicle. This uses only electricity to power the wheels, but rather than plug it in to charge the battery, it carries fuel - usually hydrogen - around in a tank, and uses a fuel cell stack to generate electricity from it.

The benefit is that refuelling times are on a par with petrol/diesel, and that the only emissions produced are water. The downsides are that it’s less efficient than a pure-EV, there is very little refuelling infrastructure, that you need a hydrogen pump rather than just any plug socket, and that there are only two models available, both with a high OTR.

Battery degradation

All batteries lose capacity over time and with repeated charge cycles. This is true whether you’re talking about a mobile phone, laptop, or vehicle battery. Called battery degradation, an EV battery will also use some of its original capacity over time and repeated charging. Initially a worry for buyers, over the years it’s become clear that degradation is minimal even after more than 100,000 miles, multiple charges, and on old cars.

Manufacturers tend to offer a separate battery warranty for EV batteries, alongside the vehicle warranty, with batteries often covered for eight years or 100,000 miles. This usually protects drivers from battery faults during this time, or a loss of more than 25% of its original capacity - but time, mileage, fault, and degradation limits vary depending on EV.

Eco mode

Most electric vehicles have an Eco mode, in the same way many petrol and diesel models do. This works the same way, in reducing throttle sensitivity, and often reducing air conditioning and other auxiliary drains on the battery. It can also increase brake energy recuperation strength, but varies from model to model.

EV tariff

Because an electric vehicle is most likely to be recharged overnight, a homeowner’s energy bills will increase significantly. This is more than off-set by the reduction in fuel bills, but it can see energy bills dramatically increase nonetheless. To help counter this, there are a number of electricity tariffs available from energy companies that reduce the pence per kWh cost during certain times, or for a dedicated electric vehicle charge point. Similar in concept to Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariffs, these can also offer other EV benefits such as public network access, charge point installation, and other perks.

One-pedal driving

A term rather than an absolute description, “one-pedal” driving covers the ability for certain EVs to be capable of being driven just with the throttle. This is possible when brake energy recuperation settings are strong or clever enough to bring the vehicle to a complete halt, so the driver doesn’t need to touch the brake pedal when reading the road ahead sufficiently. There is still a brake pedal for use of friction brakes, stronger braking, use in emergencies, and to start or turn the vehicle off, but many drivers can cover most trips by just using the throttle in certain EVs.

Frunk/Froot

A term to describe a front load area. A Frunk derives from the US “trunk” and Front from the UK “boot” for a traditional rear load area. With the repackaging possibilities available with a switch to electric powertrains, there is often additional space available under the bonnet for a small load space. This can be used for anything, but is commonly a handy cable storage area.

ICE - Internal Combustion Engine

A generic term for a vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine, often petrol or diesel powered, but in electric vehicle circles, has been expanded to a verb. To “ICE”, be ICEd, or if someone is ICEing, indicates that a charge point is being blocked by a car that is not charging from it, making it inaccessible for electric vehicle drivers to use. This can also be applied to electric vehicles blocking points when they are not charging, or continuing to be plugged-in even after they are fully charged.

Connected services

Connected car services are becoming increasingly common in traditionally powered vehicles, particularly with integration of home and smart systems such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s Siri. Electric vehicles were and remain at the vanguard of this system however, with users often able to control certain systems using an app or smart device. These can include pre-conditioning, checking on charge remaining, setting charging times, starting or stopping charging, and other functions.

Pre-conditioning

Pre-conditioning is a handy function available to most EV drivers, where a vehicle can be pre-heated or cooled using the on-board air conditioning or climate control systems before setting off. While this is handy in all vehicles, it is doubly so in electric vehicles. Not only is the vehicle comfortable to climb inside from the off, but by setting pre-conditioning temperatures while charging, the vehicle doesn’t use any precious charge in trying to warm or cool a large interior space.

The EV can be the right temperature - cool in summer or warm and de-iced for example in winter - while maintaining a full charge, and saving added drain on the drive battery from an air conditioning system working hard to change the interior temperature on the move - often at the cost of a mile or two of range.

Charger access

EV charge points are increasingly coming under scrutiny to allow for access for all. This includes provision for disabled drivers, and also the ability to charge a towing vehicle. Most charge points have a single bat for an EV, and although this is usually a little wider than normal bays, access to charge points can be tricky for some blue badge drivers, with kerbs or protective bollards making reaching the charger difficult. Single bays also mean that it can be difficult for long vehicles to park safely and conveniently, without unhitching a trailer.

Network access

Public charging networks must allow ad hoc access to their charging points, but these can be achieved in different ways, and on top of any other systems they might have set up. Most will have a smartphone app available for drivers to find points, and start/stop a charge, either as a registered user or on an ad hoc basis.

Contactless bank cards are widespread on rapid chargers currently and will increasingly be rolled out to fast public charge points too, allowing drivers to tap to start and stop a charge, like they would to buy something at a shop. RFID cards are a common way for registered drivers to access chargers, since they do not rely on battery and signal as a smartphone does, but can’t allow for ad hoc access - a driver must register and have the card sent through the post.

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