The Dictionary

If you don't know a BEV from a PHEV then this is the place for you

  • 12V

    A unit of electric measurement. Almost all cars have a 12 volt battery which powers all of the electrical items. EVs use them to start the main control systems before the motive battery takes over. Unfortunately they are a common cause of breakdowns when they go flat, just like on a petrol car!

  • 800V

    An electrical measurement. When referring to electric cars and charging it relates to a higher power system which allows batteries to charged faster, adding 60 miles in around five minutes. It has other advantages but is expensive to produce. 

  • AC

    Alternating Current. A type of electricity flow, used for charging electric vehicles at slower speeds on chargers like a home wall box.  Also half of an Australian rock band.

  • Autopilot

    Tesla’s name for self-driving technology. The car can drive itself in certain situations using a series of high definition cameras and ultrasonic sensors.

  • AFV

    Alternatively Fuelled Vehicle. A car that runs on fuel other than traditional petrol or diesel. See also PHEV, EV, BEV, FCEVS, HEVs.

  • A/C

    Air Conditioning. Keeps you cool in summer and helps demist faster in winter. It takes power from the battery in an electric car though, so it’ll have a small impact on the range.

  • AC/DC

    An Australian rock band or types of electricity flow, depending on how you spent your youth. See both AC and DC.

  • AVAS

    Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System. This is the artificial noise generator fitted to electric vehicles to help pedestrians and cyclists hear them coming. They range from a simple note to chimes developed by famous record producers.

  • Battery Lease

    A monthly payment to use the battery in an electric vehicle. This makes the car cheaper to buy and comes with a battery guarantee. Common on older Renaults but has been phased out on new cars. Beware of it if you are buying used though, as it's a right pain in the paperwork.

  • BEV

    Battery Electric Vehicle. A car (like the BMW i3) that gets its power solely from a battery, which is charged by plugging it in. When the battery runs out it won’t go any more and it doesn’t emit any emissions.

  • BIK

    Benefit in Kind. Not a cheap ballpoint pen. It's a form of income tax levied on company car users which is much lower for electrified cars and doesn’t cost a penny for electric car drivers.

  • Battery Capacity

    The amount of power a battery can hold. This reduces over time, but as with any car, an EV comes with a standard warranty. But you also get a longer one for the battery which is normally guaranteed for 8 years.

  • BEG

    Big Evil Grin. The look on Ginny and Nicki’s face when they launch a Tesla in Ludicrous Mode. See ‘Ludicrous Mode’.

  • Brake Recuperation

    ​This system recycles this energy back to the batteries when you slow down and brake. Also known as brake regeneration.

  • Car Club

    A scheme which allows city residents to rent a car (often electric) by the hour and return it to a dedicated parking spot. Very common in large cities. 

  • Category 2

    A term used by the UK Government for a car with CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km that can travel at least 10 miles without emitting any emissions at all. See ‘PHEV’.

  • Charging Rate

    The speed at which a battery will accept electricity while being charged.

  • CVT

    Continuously Variable Transmission. A type of automatic gearbox which is common on hybrid vehicles.

  • CCS

    Combined Charging System. A standard EU fast charging connector that combines two DC pins arranged below the Type 2 connector. Fast becoming the most common form of electric car connector or ‘charging plug’ to get power in your battery quickly.

  • Charging Point

    A place to fill up your car with electricity.

  • Charge flap

    A door which covers the electric charging port on an electric car. Or when someone becomes agitated about not being able to plug their car in.

  • Connector Type

    Electric vehicles are charged via a cable, which uses connectors. One fits into the car, the second into the charging outlet.

  • Commando Cable

    A wire which connects your electric car to a charging socket. Or a former Liberal Democrat leader wearing no underwear.

  • Category 1

    A term used by the UK Government for a car with CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km that can travel at least 70 miles without emitting any emissions at all, making it eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant. See ‘BEV’.

  • Charging Capacity

    The amount of electricity which can be squeezed into a battery.

  • Cost per KwH

    Cost per kilowatt hour. Think of this like the price you pay for a litre of petrol or diesel. So to work out the charging costs of an electric car multiply the cost of electricity per unit (kWh) by the battery capacity of the model in kW.

  • Cells

    The individual parts of a battery which combine to make the whole pack. Or where you’ll end up if you try and show off a Porsche Taycan’s acceleration on the public road.

  • ChDeMo

    A large, round four pin charging plug, which is only used for rapid charging points and normally works with EVs manufactured by brands like Mitsubishi and Nissan.  It can also offer Vehicle to Grid (V2G) but has less power than CCS and requires two separate sockets.

  • CO2

    Carbon Dioxide. A gas is produced when burning fuels which causes global warming. The amount of CO2 a car produces is measured and taxed.

  • Cheetah Stance

    The suspension setting used by a Tesla just before it launches in maximum-attack acceleration mode. Not to be confused with a 1998 hit single by Neneh Cherry.

  • Climate Control

    Heating and air conditioning inside a car. 

  • CPO

    Charge Point Operator - the companies which own and run public charge points. 

  • DC

    Direct Current. This is the other half of AC and is a faster type of electricity flow when charging electric cars. An electric car has to convert power from the mains socket from AC to DC before it can be stored in the battery, which slows the process. Rapid chargers speed it up by providing a DC flow directly from the charging unit. 

  • Degradation

    Batteries slowly lose their capacity over time as they’re used more, this is degradation. How often they’re charged and how hot or cold they get can also have an impact.

  • Depreciation

    The amount a car’s value drops as it gets older. See also Residual Value.

  • Destination Charging

    The common term for charging your electric car away from home.

  • Easter Egg

    An unexpected and usually hidden feature in a car’s software which owners enjoy finding. Commonly found in Tesla models. Can also refer to oval shaped confectionery which is gifted in large quantities around spring time religious festivals to people who write a helpful dictionary about EVs. Please.

  • EcoMode

    A setting on a car which makes it use energy more efficiently, usually by cutting the performance and power. Or, a setting on a karaoke machine which makes it sound like you’re in a cave.

  • Electric Bike

    A bicycle with an electric motor. Which is Tom’s kind of bike.

  • Economy 7

    Also known as off-peak. An electricity tariff which makes it cheaper to use power at night. Useful for charging cars!

  • E-REV

    Extended Range Electric Vehicle. A car powered by a battery (which you plug in) that also has a petrol or diesel generator which is used to extend its battery range when needed. Or a Yorkshireman addressing a vicar.

  • Electric Highway

    A well connected route of regular charging points found along the UK motorway network. It has been the butt of many jokes among electric car users as it was woeful, but the network has been taken over and improvements are happening fast.

  • EVHS

    Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. This is a grant from the nice folk from OLEV which provides £500 off the cost of buying & installing a home charging point like the ones from BP Chargemaster.

  • E-Pedal

    Ginny’s favourite part of the Nissan Leaf. This allows you to slow the car down and accelerate using a single pedal so the car can get extra energy from regenerative braking. 

  • EPA

    EPA stands for the Environmental Protection Agency, an organisation from the US which conducts independent testing of car efficiency. Its figures are generally closer to what you'd expect in the real world than the WLTP numbers used in the UK and Europe, but not all cars sold here are tested.

  • Efficiency Rating

    The Electrifying Efficiency Rating (or E-Rating for short) is an industry standard score to measure the overall efficiency of electric cars. It uses an algorithm taking into account a number of factors, including how well the car converts electrical power into miles on the road, speed of charging, power saving gadgets and real-world consumption. More details can be found here.

  • FCEV

    Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. This uses hydrogen gas as a fuel. They typically have a range of around 300 miles and or more and only emit water vapour from the exhaust. Charging is limited at the moment and there are only a couple of Fuel Cell cars on sale like the Hyundai Nexo, but you’re going to be hearing a LOT more about them in the future.

  • Fast Charging

    A charging speed of 7kW - 22kW, which will typically charge an EV in three to 10 hours. This type of charging point is usually found in homes, workplaces and in some public places.

  • FLEX

    Another word for a cable, or Nissan’s battery lease scheme. Can also refer to yoga moves.

  • FOMO

    Fear of Missing Out. The nagging worry that you’re going to be the last of your friends to go electric.

  • Formula E

    Formula E is an international racing championship that uses electric cars instead of traditional petrol-powered ones - it’s a bit like electric Formula One. See Nicki Shields.

  • Froot/Frunk

    A storage area at the front of a car, in the place where you would usually find an engine. Derives from ‘front boot’ or the American term ‘front trunk’. Sounds a bit daft when a non-American comes out with it.

  • Fuel Cell

    A way of generating electric power using a chemical reaction between hydrogen and the oxygen in the air. Used to power cars like the Hyundai Nexo. 

  • GHG

    Greenhouse Gas. Emissions (mostly CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels. 

  • Gigafactory

    A large factory which produces electric cars or batteries. Usually refers to Tesla facilities. Because Elon Musk likes to invent his own name for everything.

  • Granny charger

    An electric vehicle charging cable with a three-pin socket which can be used in emergencies to add range. Only charges at around 2kW so it’s very slow. So called as it’s the sort of cable you’d only use if you went to visit an elderly relative.

  • Hybrid

    A petrol or diesel car, that also has a small battery and electric motor. It doesn’t have a plug, can’t be charged up and has a limited electric range.

  • HEV

    Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A petrol or diesel car, like the BMW X5 Hybrid, that also has a small electric motor and battery. It doesn’t have a plug, can’t be charged up from the grid and gets its power from the engine or braking energy. It has a limited electric range. See ‘Hybrid’.

  • Home Charging Point

    A specific electrical unit, usually a wallbox, fitted to the outside of your home to charge a car with a battery. Supplied by a company like BP Chargemaster. 

  • Hydrogen

    A gas which is used to power Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) and can also be burned in conventional engines with modifications. It can be created using electricity, so is potentially a renewable energy source.

  • Heat Pump

    A more energy efficient type of heater which can be used in a car or house. It works like an air conditioner in reverse, taking warmth out of the air and condensing it.

  • ICE

    Internal Combustion Engine. A traditional petrol, diesel or LPG engine, also known as a petrol or diesel.

  • ICEing

    When the owner of a petrol or diesel (ICE) car parks in an electric vehicle charging station. See ‘irritating idiot’. Not to be confused with a cake topping.

  • ICEed

    When an EV charge point has been rendered inoperable by having an ICE car parked in the space. See ‘irritating idiot’.

  • ICE Blocked

    When an EV charge point has been rendered inoperable by having an ICE car parked in the space. Also see ‘irritating idiot’.

  • Inverter

    A gadget which is fitted to most electric cars to convert the AC current coming out of the electricity mains socket into the DC power needed by the battery. It’s also fitted to rapid charging points to make them charge a car faster.

  • ICEr

    See ‘ICEed’, ‘ICEing’ and ‘ICE blocked’.

  • J1772

    Also known as the ‘J plug’. This is a type of charging connector mainly used in North America and Japan.

  • kW

    Kilowatt. This is a measurement of power, in a petrol or diesel car if 50mph is your speed then you have to maintain that for an hour to travel 50 miles. In an electric car 40kW is how much power you’re using and you’ll have to maintain that consumption for one hour to use 40kWh.

  • KWh

    KiloWatt Hour. It’s a unit for measuring how much electricity (or energy) you’re using and the size of a battery is measured in kiloWatt hours. For example the least expensive battery on the Volkswagen ID.3 is 48 kWh, which means it can store a maximum of 48 kilowatt hours of electricity. It’s time to stop thinking about your miles per gallon (MPG) and start thinking about ‘miles per KwH’.

  • Lead Acid

    An old fashioned type of battery which is still used in most cars to run the 12 volt electrics. Also used in old-fashioned EVs such as milk floats.

  • Li-ion

    Lithium Ion. A type of battery used in most electric cars, phones and laptops. Not to be confused with a large cat.

  • Ludicrous Mode

    A setting on some Tesla models which unlocks pant-wetting performance. 

  • LOL

    Laughing Out Loud. A common reaction from anyone who understands electric cars when they hear people say that some EVs can be charged without ever having to plug them in. See ‘Self-charging Hybrid’.

  • Lease

    A way of financing a car which involves a long term rental agreement. It can be cheaper than other forms of finance, but means you never own the car. 

  • MHEV

    Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A petrol or diesel car that usually has a 48 volt system that includes an extra battery to help with things like the extended stop/start and coasting functions, as well as running some gadgets to give slightly better fuel economy.

  • Mild Hybrid

    A petrol or diesel car that usually uses a small electric motor (usually the starter motor) to help move the car from a standstill, making it more efficient. It will give slightly better fuel economy. 

  • MPG

    Miles Per Gallon. A fuel economy measure for ICE vehicles.

  • Motability

    A charity which provides lease cars to people who receive a disability benefit from the government. It currently counts for about 10% of all new car registrations in the UK.

  • Muskateers

    A member of the household troops of the French king in the 17th and 18th centuries. Or a fan of Tesla founder Elon Musk.

  • NiCad

    Nickel Cadmium, a type of battery used in older EVs such as the G-Wiz.

  • NOX

    Short for Nitrogen Oxide, a nasty gas produced by ICE vehicles. Or the sound made by a postman.

  • OLEV Grant

    A £500 grant that the nice folk from OLEV give you towards the cost of purchasing and installing a home charging point. Also known as the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).

  • OLEV

    Office for Low Emission Vehicle, NOT to be mistaken for the meerkat from a price comparison site. That’s OLEG.

  • OMG

    Either One Motion Grip, Lexus' steer by wire system or Oh My God, a common reaction from anyone who tries Tesla’s Ludicrous Mode for the first time. See Ludicrous Mode.

  • ProPilot

    Nissan’s name for self-driving technology, which will steer, accelerate and brake automatically by using sensors. 

  • PHEV

    Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A petrol or diesel car, like the BMW X3 plug-in hybrid, that also has a battery which can be plugged in to give electric powered driving. When the battery is flat it uses the petrol or diesel engine and will no longer be emission free.

  • PCH

    Personal Contract Hire. A way of financing a car which is sort of like renting it for years rather than days.

  • PCP

    Personal Contract Purchase. Another way of financing a car. Rather than pay off the entire value of the car over a few years, you only pay the depreciation and the interest. At the end, you can either hand the car back or pay the remaining value and buy it.

  • PiCG

    Plug-in Car Grant. This is a government grant towards the cost of an electric vehicle, which has sadly been discontinued for cars but is still available on some vans. It helps make EVs more affordable and is automatically applied by the dealer when you buy the vehicle.

  • PEM

    Proton Exchange Membrane. The basic building block of a fuel cell and likely to be something we hear a lot more about in the future. Nothing to do with the Malaysian car brand favoured by minicab drivers.

  • Plug-in Hybrid

    A petrol or diesel car that also has a small battery that can be plugged in to give anywhere from 10-50 miles of electric range. When the battery is flat it uses the petrol or diesel engine and will no longer emission free.

  • Preheat

    A way to increase range by heating (or cooling) the interior of an electric car while it is plugged into the mains rather than using the battery power. Means you never have to use de-icer or a scraper again. Yeah!

  • PAYG

    Pay As You Go. A term used for the ability to pay for charging when you’re out and about using contactless payment. All charging points will provide this service by the end of 2020.

  • Powerwall

    Tesla’s brand name for a battery used in your home to store electricity, usually gathered from renewable sources such as solar panels.

  • POB

    A slightly disturbing puppet from late 1980s children’s TV.

  • Pure EV

    A car that gets its power solely from a battery which is charged by plugging it in. When the battery runs out it won’t go any more and it’s emission free.

  • Preconditioning

    ​A way to increase range by heating (or cooling) the interior of an electric car while it is plugged into the mains rather than using the battery power. Means you never have to use de-icer or a scraper again. Yeah! Also known preheating.

  • PBV

    Purpose Built Vehicle - a generic term for electric vehicles which are designed for a specific purpose, such as parcel delivery or taxis.

  • Plug and Charge

    Technology pioneered by Tesla which means you can simply plug your car into a public charger and it will start charging automatically, with payment billed to your account. 

  • Quadricycle

    An official classification for a lightweight car. It makes it exempt from certain safety rules. Applicable to the Renault Twizy, Citroen Ami and G-Wiz. All cars Tom is oddly fond of.

  • Range Anxiety

    The worry that you will run out of battery power before reaching your destination or a charger. An often unfounded state of mind as the average car is driven for just 20 miles a day and it’s not uncommon for an electric car to be able to travel up to 300 miles.

  • Range

    The distance a car will travel without needing to stop for fuel or a charge. Can also be used to describe the line-up of cars offered by a company, or where a cowboy lives.

  • Regenerative braking

    This system recycles this energy back to the batteries when you slow down and brake. On cars like the Hyundai Kona Electric it can be adjusted to suit your style of driving, or even set automatically by the car. Clever eh?

  • Rapid Charging

    A charging speed of 43 kW and above which will typically charge an EV in under an hour. Tesla Superchargers are rapids but charge at 120 kW.

  • REX

    Range Extender. Or what you get when you crash cars.

  • Residual Charge

    The percentage of the original capacity remaining on the battery of a car. See ‘Battery Capacity’.

  • Residual Value

    The percentage of a car’s price which is retained when you come to sell it used.

  • RFL

    Road Fund Licence.  Previously known as the ‘tax disc’. A fee payable to the government to use the roads in the UK. Not to be confused with rugby.

  • RFID Card

    Cards (and keyfobs) used by many older charging points to allow access to EV charging ports. As contactless payment comes in these will no longer be needed.

  • Slow Charging

    A charging speed of  3.7kW which usually charges up an all electric car in 6-12 hours and a plug-in hybrid in 2-4 hours. It’s slow, but still provides faster charging times than a 3-pin socket and is the typical speed of older charging points.

  • Second Use Battery

    Used power packs from electric cars which have been reused for other purposes, such as electricity storage in homes and electricity grids.

  • Self-charging Hybrid

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch. And the same applies here, this is marketing talk for a Hybrid Electric Vehicle. It’s a petrol or diesel car that also has a very small battery which can’t be plugged in and it gives you no emission free driving.  See ‘LOL’.

  • Smart Charging

    A system controlled by your energy provider that automatically charges your EV less when electricity is expensive and increases the charging when it’s cheap. The bonus is that cheap electricity often corresponds to times when there’s plenty of renewable energy available. Which is something we like a lot.

  • Smart Meter

    An electricity meter in your home which is connected to the internet and can be used to charge electric cars at the cheapest time of day.

  • SoC

    State of Charge. The percentage of power in a battery. Details of how to check your state of charge are usually in the owner’s manual.

  • Supercharger

    Tesla’s dedicated rapid chargers. The envy of all non-Tesla electric car owners.

  • Solid State Battery

    It might sound like a German techno rock band, but it's actually a new type of battery which promises more capacity, faster charging and longer life. It's not yet ready as boffins are a bit baffled and can't get the electrodes to last longer than a few years. Once it's fixed, it will really make EVs the logical choice for everyone. 

  • Swarm data

    Information which is shared between moving vehicles to warn of traffic, accidents and weather issues. Sort of like Google maps data but better and built into the car. 

  • TCO

    Total Cost of Ownership. Takes into account fuel/charging, tax, servicing, depreciation.

  • Tesla Tax

    The government’s £320 per year supplementary road fund licence charge for non-BEV cars which have a list price of more than £40,000. So called because it originally hit Tesla buyers the hardest, but 100% battery cars have since been exempted. It still applies to hybrids though. 

  • Teslarati

    Fans of Tesla products. Known for reacting passionately on social media if you say dare to criticise their beloved cars. Or their leader. Sorry, Elon Musk.

  • Three Pin

    A type of plug. See Granny Charger. Can also describe the sharp objects you usually find in a new shirt the first time you wear it.

  • Trickle Charging

    The term used for slowest type of charging, either from a de-rated dedicated chargepoint or through a standard domestic 3-pin plug (which lacks certain safety features and is best used only in an emergency).

  • Tethered Cable

    A charge cable which is fixed at one end, either to the car (as with a Renault Twizy) or to the charger (as with rapid charge points).

  • Turtle Mode

    A ‘limping’ mode for electric cars when they have only a few metres of power left, which is used to get the car to a place of safety, such as off the road. 

  • TLA

    Three Letter Acronym. Because there are so many of them used to describe electric cars. And the car industry in general. We don’t like them.

  • Type 1

    A five pin charging plug that also features a clip and is typically found on older EVs.

  • Type 2

    A seven pin charging plug with one flat edge, which was originally favoured by European brands e.g. BMW, VW and is now becoming the most popular on all cars.

  • Time of Use

    The time you use your electricity. If you choose the right tariff, you can choose to use the most power when there’s less demand on the Grid and prices are lower. This is perfect for charging an electric car.

  • Type of Use

    How the electricity is used in your home or business. Different types include cooking, heating or charging your car. Energy providers can alter the cost for certain types.

  • ULEZ

    Ultra Low Emission Zone. An area in a city which only allows electric or zero emission vehicles to enter. Driving into it if you aren’t in one will prove to be very expensive.

  • UFC

    Ultra Fast Charging. This is the name for charging speeds of 150 Kw and above, which make it possible to recharge an electric car very quickly, and actually in a similar time to filling up a conventional car with petrol or diesel.

  • ULEV

    Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. A car that uses low-carbon tech and emits less than 75g of CO2/km from its exhaust, making it eligible for grants and benefits from the UK government.

  • V2G

    Vehicle to Grid. A cool way to make money from your car. This uses your electric car battery to release power back through the charger either for use in your home or you can sell it back into the grid at large during times of high demand. It’s currently offered in the UK by OVO Energy and the Nissan Leaf is one of the few cars currently clever enough to do this.

  • V2H

    Vehicle to Home. As with Vehicle to Grid, but the car can only be used to power your home rather than feed power back into the wider grid. Useful in a power cut. As are candles.

  • Voltage

    A measure of the power of electricity. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the car. Porsche’s Taycan uses an 800 volt system for example, allowing it to be fast and very quick to charge.

  • V2L

    Vehicle to Load - this means you can use the car as a giant power bank to run electrical items. On some cars, such as the Honda e, it can only be low-power items. But others like the Kia EV6 and Hyundai IONIQ5 can run up to 3.6kW - that's enough for a kettle. 

  • WLTP

    The Worldwide Harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure. An improved emissions and efficiency testing regime which is meant to give a more realistic version of a cars range or fuel efficiency. Although we think it’s generally still pretty optimistic.

  • Workplace Charging

    Charge points provided by your employer.

  • YOLO

    You Only Live Once. As does the planet. Make it count.

  • ZEV

    Zero Emission Vehicle. A catch-all term for a car that doesn’t produce any CO2.

  • Zero Emission

    An engine, motor, process, or other energy source that emits no waste products that pollute the environment or damage the climate.

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