Electric Vehicle Glossary: 65+ Terms Defined

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AC (Alternating current)

An electric current that flows in a back-and-forth direction.

AER (All-electric range)

Commonly used when talking about the electric range in plug-in hybrid vehicles without calculating the expected gas mileage.

Amp (Ampere)

A unit of electricity that is used to measure electric vehicle charger capacity.

Battery cell

A single electrical storage unit with a special chemistry that allows it to store electricity (usually utilizing lithium ions for electric vehicles.)

Battery module

A battery module is made up of interconnected battery cells.

Battery pack

A large unit consisting of connected battery modules, a battery management system, a cooling system, and other components that help to power an electric car.

BEV (Battery electric vehicle)

An electric vehicle that only uses current stored in the battery to power its electric motor.

Bidirectional charging

This type of charging allows electric vehicles to not only recharge their battery packs, but also use their stored energy to power your home and electronics, or just put electricity back into the grid (potentially providing income depending on where you live.)

BMS (Battery management system)

A system designed to monitor, protect, and manage the battery pack in an electric vehicle.

CCS (Combined charging system)

A type of fast charging system that can top up an electric vehicle using alternating or direct current. While the US and Europe both use CCS, they’re different because they are based around the standard local plug type (J1772 and Type 2 respectively).

CHAdeMO connector/plug

A type of DC fast charging system that is standard in Japan. It can supply up to 62.5 kW of power to an electric vehicle.

Charging station/point

Any designated point where you can charge an electric vehicle.

CPO (Charge point operator)

A company that installs, operates, and maintains electric vehicle charging stations.

DC (Direct current)

An electric current that flows in the same direction. When charging an electric vehicle, alternating current from the grid is converted into direct current before it’s stored in an EV’s battery.

DC fast charger

A type of electric vehicle charger that uses direct current to recharge a battery quickly, usually from 10 to 80% in around 30 minutes.


A natural chemical process in which an electric vehicle’s battery loses charge capacity over time.

Drive unit

Usually made up of the electric motor, transmission, and drive shafts. All those components coordinate to move the wheels of an electric vehicle.

eMSP (Electronic mobility service provider)

A company that operates an electric vehicle charging network.

EV (Electric vehicle)

A vehicle that relies on electricity for propulsion.

EVSE (Electric vehicle supply equipment)

The unit that is installed on charging stations to regulate the supply of power to electric vehicles.

Fast charger

Any type of Level 3 charger that can recharge a battery using direct current.

FCEV (Fuel cell electric vehicle)

Also known as FCVs, they are a type of electric vehicle that uses hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity, which is stored in a small battery pack that then powers the electric motor.


The front trunk is a storage compartment at the front of an electric vehicle.


Large factories that produce batteries and components for electric vehicles. Originally coined by Tesla, it’s now a general term.

HEV (Hybrid electric vehicle)

A type of vehicle that comes with an internal combustion engine as well as an electric motor to boost efficiency and performance.

Home charging

Charging a vehicle at home, as opposed to a public charger like a Tesla Supercharger.

Horsepower (Hp)

Unit of measurement for power; 1 kilowatt is equivalent to 1.34 horsepower.

ICE (Internal combustion engine)

The most common type of heat engine, such as gasoline or diesel engines.


A benefit offered to encourage people to shift from gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles. For instance, free public charging and federal tax credits.

kWh (Kilowatts per hour)

The capacity of an electric vehicle’s battery is measured in kilowatt-hours.

Level 1 charger

A type of electric vehicle charger that can plug into a 120-volt home socket. They are the slowest type of EV charger and are only available in the US.

Level 2 charger

A type of electric vehicle charger that can plug into a 240-volt power socket. It’s faster than a Level 1 charger, and it can usually recharge an EV fully overnight.

Level 3 charger

A DC fast charger that replenishes your electric vehicle’s battery very quickly using a direct current.

Lithium-ion battery

A type of rechargeable battery, which is the most common variety found in electric vehicles.

MHEV (Mild hybrid electric vehicle)

A vehicle that is designed with a gasoline engine and an electric motor, but it can’t drive using the electric motor. The electric motor in this type of vehicle can serve several roles: as a starter motor, alternator, and providing a temporary torque boost.

Off-peak charging

The time (usually at night) when you can charge an electric vehicle at lower rates because there is less demand for electricity.

PHEV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)

A vehicle with an electric motor, a battery, and an internal combustion engine. It can drive independently using electricity sourced from the battery, and the gasoline/diesel engine engages when the battery runs out or when maximum acceleration is needed.


Heating or cooling an electric vehicle’s battery for optimal temperatures before driving or charging. Pre-heating the battery is especially important in the winter.


How many miles you can drive using an electric vehicle’s battery.

Range anxiety

When electric vehicle drivers are afraid that they will be stranded if the battery runs out of charge in a location where there are no charging stations.

Range extender (REx)

A backup power unit that replenishes an electric vehicle’s battery on the move so that you don’t have to stop and recharge. Vehicles with these are known as extended-range electric vehicles (EREV), range-extended battery-electric vehicles (BEVx), and range-extended electric vehicles (REEV).

Rapid charging

Charging through a fast charger with a power capacity ranging from 50 kW to 100 kW. Anything faster than that is defined as ultra-rapid charging.

Regenerative braking

In hybrid or battery electric vehicles, the electric motor can also be used to brake the vehicle. By doing this, it puts energy back into the battery pack, thus improving range and average efficiency. It also prolongs the life of a car’s friction brakes.

Renewable energy

Sustainable energy from a natural source such as solar or wind that cannot be depleted from the environment.

RPH (Range per hour)

Used to estimate the range you can add to an electric vehicle after charging for one hour at a specific station.


More commonly referred to as just J1772, this is the standard Type 1 connector for electric vehicles in North America.

Slow charging

When you’re using Level 1 home chargers to add range to an electric vehicle.


An automaker founded in 2003 that helped accelerate electric vehicle innovation and adoption. Known for its cars like the Model 3 and Model Y.

Tesla Supercharger

A network of electric vehicle chargers built and operated by Tesla, mostly for its own customers.

Tethered charger

A type of electric vehicle charger that comes with a cable permanently secured to it.

Three-phase current

If you want to get the most powerful 22 kW home AC charger, you will need a three-phase electrical connection. This form of alternating current is usually what the electricity grid itself operates on, but transformation points convert this into two-phase current for household use.

Trickle charging

When the power added to the battery of an electric car is equal to the power discharged. Trickle charging could also mean using a Level 1 charger to slowly increase the state of charge.


An engine’s rotational force. Electric vehicles are known for their superior torque levels compared to ICE vehicles and their ability to deliver that torque virtually instantly. This almost brutal pulling power is what some may refer to when they talk about EV torque.

Turtle mode

When an electric vehicle is about to run out of power, it limits speed and disables non-essential features to help you reach a charger.

Type 1 plug

A single-phase plug with a capacity of up to 7.4 kW.

Type 2 plug

A universal socket for electric vehicles that is standard in Europe.

ULEV (Ultra-low emission vehicle)

These are not solely electric vehicles, but rather vehicles that produce extremely low carbon emissions. An example of an ultra-low emission vehicle is a plug-in hybrid.

ULEZ (Ultra-low emissions zone)

A zone around London where vehicles besides those with ultra-low emissions are required to pay an entry fee.

Untethered charger

A type of electric vehicle charger that you can detach or plug a cable into.

Utility rate

The cost of electricity when charging an electric car at a specific time.

V2G (Vehicle to grid)

A two-way charging system that makes it possible for an electric vehicle to supply power to the grid.

V2H (Vehicle to home)

A charger that can discharge electricity from an electric vehicle to a home.

V2L (Vehicle to load)

Using an external socket on an electric vehicle to supply power to basic electronics or gadgets.

V2V (Vehicle to vehicle)

A technology that makes it possible for an electric vehicle to charge another electric vehicle.

Wh/Kg (Watt-hour per kilogram)

A common measurement used to calculate the energy density of a battery in comparison with its weight.

Zero-emission vehicle (ZEV)

Electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that don’t produce carbon emissions.


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