Electric Vehicle Dictionary

A glossary of terms related to electric vehicle charging - from EV types to key concepts.

Last updated: Nov 01, 2021 9 min read

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Vehicle types

Term Definition
Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) A car that runs purely on electric power, stored in an on-board battery that is charged from mains electricity (typically at a dedicated chargepoint).
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) A car with a combination of a traditional internal combustion engine and a rechargeable battery, allowing for either pure electric-powered driving or extended range from a combination of the petrol engine and electric motor.
Plug-in vehicle (PiV) A blanket term for any vehicle with a plug socket, including BEVs and PHEVs.
Electric vehicle (EV) Can be used as a catch-all term for BEVs, PHEVs and REx, but often used to refer to pure electric vehicles i.e. BEVs.
Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) A car that has official tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions of less than 75g/km, and is therefore eligible for grants and benefits from the UK government.
Range-extended EV (REx) An EV that has only an electric drivetrain, but a small petrol generator to charge the battery when range is depleted for longer trips. Often considered a type of PHEV.
Hybrid Car A catch all term for any vehicle that has a petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor. The main types are full, mild and plug-in hybrid.
Full Hybrid or
“Self-Charging” Hybrid
A 100% fossil fuelled hybrid car. The most common is the Toyota Prius. A small battery is charged through regenerative braking that generates some electric power in combination with a combustion engine, but the car’s energy originates from petrol. The electric motor can only power the car itself for short periods at low speeds.
Mild Hybrid Mild hybrids also have a small electric motor, but unlike full hybrids, it is solely used to assist the petrol engine. The car cannot drive on battery power alone.
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) This term refers to an EV which uses a hydrogen fuel cell to power its electric motor. The fuel cells create the electricity to power the car.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle This term is used for a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than traditional petrol or diesel. It includes engines that don't solely rely on petroleum such as PHEV, EV, FCEVS, but also includes HEVs.

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EV charging connector types

Term Definition
Type 1

A five pin plug that also features a clip, this connector is common in the US and is typically found on EVs manufactured by Asian and US brands (e.g. Nissan, Mitsubishi and GM/Vauxhall/Opel). However its prominence is fading as Nissan have moved to Type 2.
Type 2
Type 2 Charging Socket

A seven pin plug with one flat edge, this connector was originally favoured by European brands e.g. BMW, VW group, but is now becoming the most popular on all cars. Can carry three-phase power and locks into the socket of a charging point.
 CHAdeMO Charging Socket

A round four pin plug, this connector is only used for rapid charging points and is typically compatible with EVs manufactured by Asian brands e.g. Mitsubishi and Nissan. Can offer Vehicle to Grid (V2G) but has less power than CCS and requires two separate sockets.
Combined Charging System (CCS)
CCS Charging Socket

Standardised by the EU, this connector combines two DC pins arranged below the Type 2 AC connector and uses 3 of the Type 2s pins. Found on most Type 2 BEVs.
UK 3 pin
Tesla Charging Socket

The plug for a standard UK electrical outlet. This connector can be used to charge some EVs in an emergency but lacks the safety, speed and security features of a dedicated chargepoint.

Find out more about EV connector types

Key concepts

Term Definition
Top Up Charging The practice of plugging in your electric vehicle whenever you park while out and about, making use of the time your car is not in use to add charge to your battery. This helps avoid range anxiety and means you will rarely find yourself waiting for your car to charge.

Public Pod Points are ideal for top up charging and can be found using our free app.
Home Charging Plugging your electric car in to charge while it is parked at home, typically overnight. A dedicated home charging point is the best and safest way of doing this.
En-route Charging En route charging typically requires high powered rapid chargers, that put >100 miles into your electric car in the time it takes to grab a coffee, a snack and use the facilities. This enables you to take long-distance trips in your electric car, but is not needed day-to-day.
ICEd When a chargepoint is occupied by a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE) , preventing an EV from charging. A polite note left on their windscreen with your phone number is generally the best response.
RFID Cards Using the same technology used in public transport travel cards, these cards are used by many older chargepoints to allow access to EV charging.
The Pod Point Network On the Pod Point Network you can charge your EV without RFID cards or membership. Simply use the Pod Point app to find a chargepoint and start your charge. Alternatively, some Pod Point rapid chargers can be used with just the tap of your contactless bank card.
Contactless Payment Available on some rapid chargers, it is possible to start and pay for your charging session with the tap of your contactless credit/debit card.
Range Anxiety The term given to a fear of running out of charge while driving a plug-in electric vehicle. This fear can be avoided by top-up charging wherever you park throughout the day and en-route charging on longer journeys.
Range per hour (RPH) Miles of range per hour of charge.
Kilowatt hour (kWh) A unit of energy equivalent to the energy transferred in one hour by one thousand watts of power. Electric car batteries are typically measured in kilowatt hours. 1 kilowatt hour is typically 3-4 miles of range in a BEV.
Smart charging A catch-all term for a series of functions that a Wi-Fi connected chargepoint can perform. Typically this refers to things like load balancing, energy monitoring and “managed charging”, i.e. shifting charging periods away from periods of high grid demand and/or low grid supply and to periods of low grid demand and/or high grid supply.
Vehicle to Grid (V2G) The concept of using your electric car battery to release power back through the charger either for use in the local building or back into the grid at large during time of high grid demand.
Single-phase Power Typically found in most UK homes and some businesses, this is what all standard 3 pin plug sockets provide. A single-phase electricity supply can power a dedicated chargepoint up to 7kW.
Three-phase Power Often found on commercial and industrial sites, this provides three alternating currents and allows for 22kW AC charging. Significant three-phase power availability is also a prerequisite for DC rapid charger installation.
The Rapid Charge Paradox The counter-intuitive realisation that it is only at the fastest chargers where EV drivers typically spend time waiting to charge. This is because most charging is done at slower chargepoints that charge the car while the driver is otherwise occupied.

Learn how to charge an electric car

Types of charging

Term Definition
Trickle Charging The slowest type of charging, this is best reserved for long overnight charges at home and is either provided safely by de-rated dedicated chargepoints, or through a standard 3 pin plug, which lacks certain safety features.
Slow Charging A better option for home charging, this allows for both top up and overnight charging through a dedicated chargepoint. The 3.7kW Pod Point Solo is a good example of this type of charging point and provides faster charging times than a 3 pin socket.
Fast Charging Ideal for top up charging, most fast chargepoints offer 7kW, ideal for keeping you going while out and about. Typically found in homes, workplaces and in public car parks where people typically spend circa 40 mins or more. Maximum charging speed may be limited by your vehicle’s onboard charger. You can find more information on our vehicle guides.
Rapid Charging Typically used for en-route charging on long distance journeys, rapid chargers can also be used as occasional “caught short” chargers, particularly if available somewhere convenient, e.g. a supermarket. Rapid charging takes place from 43kW power and above. Maximum charging speed may be limited by your vehicle’s onboard charger. You can find more information on our vehicle guides.

Find out more about EV charging speeds

Measures of electric range and efficiency

Term Definition
Manufacturer’s Claimed Range and Efficiency This has traditionally been the most optimistic measure, achievable in specific circumstances. Often the manufacturers would use numbers derived from the “NEDC” cycle.
NEDC A cautionary tale in use of the word “new”, the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), last updated in 1997, was designed to assess the emission levels of car engines and fuel economy in passenger cars. It has fallen out of favour as manufacturers were configuring their cars’ performance for the NEDC test, rather than the NEDC measuring their cars’ real world performance. When it comes to electric vehicles, the NEDC gives quite a generous assessment of range.
WLTP The Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) is the more thorough emissions and efficiency testing regime that has is now used as the official standard, replacing NEDC. The test provides a less optimistic verdict on real world electric range, but it is arguably still more optimistic than a vehicle’s actual real world range.
EPA The USA’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established its own testing methodology for electric range which is arguably the toughest, and thus closest to real world performance of the available metrics.
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