Electric Vehicle Terminology – What You Should Know

Güncem Güzel

Last updated on May 1st, 2023 at 01:59 pm

Table of Contents


    Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

    The official term used to refer to all-electric or pure electric cars. This includes only EVs that are entirely powered by electricity and do not require gas.

    Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

    EVs that can use electric energy and gas as their main fuel source.

    PHEV & BEV – Source: Bizreps

    Zero Emissions Vehicle

    EVs that release no contaminating emissions. Only BEVs fall into this category since PHEVs use gas as one of their fuel sources.
    Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicle
    Regular vehicles that exclusively use gas as their fuel source. ICE vehicles are responsible for contaminating emissions of the transport sector.

    EV Fleet

    EV fleets are entirely composed of BEVs or PHEVs. Mainly used for industrial or commercial applications.

    Duke Energy EV Fleet – Source: Duke Energy

    Range Anxiety

    Fear that the driving range of EVs is not enough for regular driving habits. This has been proven to be unfounded.


    Mobility solution featuring Electric Vehicles. Used to refer to the regular usage of EVs.


    Regenerative Braking

    A braking system that converts kinetic energy into electric energy that is stored in the battery to extend the driving range.


    EV Efficiency

    The term used to define efficiency for electrical energy converted into kinetic energy transferred to the wheels and measured in Kilowatt-hours per mile (kWh/miles).

    Kilowatt-hour per mile (kWh/mile)

    EV efficiency metric used to determine how much electric energy is required to drive a mile. According to the Energy Protection Agency (EPA), the kWh/mile for EVS goes from 0.253 kWh/mile up to 0.535 kWh/mile.

    Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPGe)

    Term introduced by the EPA to measure EV efficiency in terms of ICE vehicles.

    EV Battery Capacity

    The maximum energy that can be stored in an EV battery, is usually measured in Watt-hours (Wh) or Kilowatt-hours (kWh).

    Driving Range

    The maximum distance that can be driven by an EV on a single battery charge. This value depends on the EV efficiency and EV battery capacity.


    EV Charging Infrastructure

    Required electrical connection to supply single-phase or three-phase power to an EVSE. This term is also used to refer to the availability of EV Charging Points in the United States.

    Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)

    US. EE Charging Infrastructure – Source: Statista

    An EVSE is an equipment designed to supply power to an EV battery. The power rate varies on the charging level.

    Charging Point / EV Charging Station

    Charge Points are locations with access to EV chargers, used to refer to EV chargers available for public usage. The terms Charging Point and EV Charging station are usually interchangeable.

    EV Charger / EV Charging Station

    The EV charger is used to recharge the battery of an EV. The terms electric car charger and EV charging station are usually interchangeable.

    EV Charging Speed / EV Charging Level

    The speed at which the battery of an EV is charged. Power rate or EV charging speed is categorized as Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 EV charging.

    EV Charging levels – Source: Wattlogic

    Level 1 EV Charger

    Slow EV charger, featuring a power rate of around 1 kW. Takes 40 to 50 hours to fully charge an EV battery.

    Level 2 EV Charger

    Medium-speed electric car charger featuring a power rate of 7 kW up to 19 kW. Takes on average 4 to 10 hours to charge an EV battery.

    Level 3 EV Charger

    Fast electric car charger featuring a power rate of 50 kW up to 350 kW. Takes 1 hour to 20 minutes to charge an EV battery.

    DC Fast Charging (DCFC)

    An additional term used to refer to Level 3 EV chargers.

    Dual Charger

    Electric car charger featuring two charging sockets. Used to charge two EVs simultaneously.

    EV Plug / EV Connector

    Plug used to connect an EV to an electric car charger. Standard connectors include the SAE standard, IEC standard, BG/T standard, CHAdemo standard, and Tesla standard.

    EV Connectors Worldwide – Source: Jia Q, & Long T

    EV Charger Outlet

    A receptacle outlet installed in an EV, is used to connect the electric car charger to an EV.

    Combined Charging System (CCS)

    Charging system that combines the AC and DC EV connector in a single plug. CCS1 combines the charging combo for the SAE standard and CCS2 combines the combo for the IEC standard.

    EV charging / Battery Recharging

    Process of recharging an EV battery. The EV has to be connected to an EVSE, and the charging rate is defined by the EV charger and the maximum power rate allowed by the EV.

    State of Charge (SoC)

    Remaining energy capacity in an EV battery at any given time. The SoC is expressed in charge percentage considering the maximum capacity of the battery.

    Charge Point Operator / EV Charging Network Operator

    The company that operates an EV charging station. Functions include managing power levels, controlling access for EV drivers via Radio Frequency ID (RFID), developing statistics, and more.

    Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP)

    Open protocol used for communication between EVs and EV chargers. OCPP can be used to create apps that control the EV charging process via a smart EV charger.

    Off-Peak Charging

    EV charging process performed during off-peak hours. Usually performed to have access to lower electricity tariffs.

    Top-Up charging

    Connecting a parked EV to an EV charger to keep the battery charged at 100%.


    Traction Battery Pack

    Battery pack installed in an EV, destined to power the electric motor of an EV.

    Auxiliary Battery

    Secondary battery operating at 12V – 24V, used to power auxiliary components (headlights, radio, speakers, and others).

    DC to DC Converter

    Equipment designed to convert the 600V – 800V output of the traction battery pack to a lower voltage useful by components of an EV. Additionally, used to charge the auxiliary battery.

    Electric Engine / Electric Motor

    AC or DC electric engine operating under the electrical induction principle. Used to convert electric energy into kinetic energy, transferred to the wheels.

    Electric Transmission

    Control system managing how much current is delivered to the electric motor of the EV. This system controls the speed and direction of the vehicle.

    Vehicle control unit (VCU)

    An electronic system designed to control most components in an EV. The VCU controls the transmission gear, powertrain, charging process, thermal management system, and more.

    In-wheel Motors

    Electric motor installed directly in line with the wheels of an EV, designed to optimize EV performance by reducing losses on conventional motor shafts.

    Thermal Management System

    System in charge of regulating (heating or cooling) temperature in an EV.

    On-Board EV Charger

    The onboard charger converts AC energy from the EV charger into DC energy that can charge the battery. This component limits the power rate for the AC charging process.

    Battery Management System (BMS)

    The Battery Management System (BMS) is the electronic circuit designed to protect the battery from overheating or malfunctioning. BMS also limits the power rate for the DC charging process.


    Alternating Current

    Current constantly changing polarity, used for AC EV charging.

    Direct Current

    Current flowing steadily in one direction. Used to directly charge an EV battery.

    Voltage / Volts (V)

    The electrical potential difference between two points, measured in volts (V).

    Amperage / Amps (A)

    The flow of electrical charge, measured in Amps (A).

    Watt (W) / Kilowatt (kW)

    Unit of electrical power, measured in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW).

    Watt hour (Wh) / Kilowatt Hour (kWh)

    Unit of energy delivered in an hour, measured in Watts-hour (Wh) or Kilowatts-hour (kWh).

    Lithium-Ion Battery

    High energy density battery technology, used to store energy in electric cars.

    Bulk Charging

    The charging process delivering maximum voltage and current. Used from 0% up to 80%.

    Trickle Charging

    Charging process delivering low current and maximum voltage. Used from 80% to 100%.

    Float Charging

    The charging process delivering a low current and low voltage. Used to keep a battery charged at 100%.


    Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) / Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) / Vehicle-to- Home (V2H)

    V2G, V2L, and V2H are smart EV charging applications used to extract the energy stored in the battery, injecting it back into the grid, a single load, or the home. EVs need bidirectional charging capability to use V2G, V2L, or V2H.

    Bidirectional Technology SOurce: Embedded Computing

    Power Sharing / Load Balancing

    The capability of smart EV chargers to share the available electrical capacity in the electrical infrastructure between two or more connected EVs.

    Scheduled Charging

    The capability of smart EV chargers to schedule the start and finish time for the EV charging process. Used for off-peak charging and other applications.

    Solar Charging

    Energy management capability to partially or entirely charge an EV using solar energy, this energy can either be extracted directly from the PV system or stored in the home battery system.

    Extending Your Knowledge on EV Terms

    Learning these terms will help you on your journey towards e-Mobility, however, these only cover a brief introduction on each of them for you to get familiar with the most common terms used whenever you read related content.

    Further learning about EV technology will help you make wiser decisions on the subject and get familiar with the technology that will be ruling the transportation industry in the following decades.

    Electric Vehicles (EVs) feature a more advanced and complex design compared to Combustion Internal Engine (ICE) vehicles. There are also many terms used to talk about EV technical specifications, EV charging applications, and EVs in general. To make your introduction into the world of EVs a little more easier, we created this terminology list used to understand everything about EVs.

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