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EV Terminology Glossary: All Terms You Need To Know

As the planet transitions from fossil fuels to renewable clean energy, the automotive industry is helping lead the way with increased production of electric vehicles. Consumers should understand EV terminology and the meaning of these specific words. The following is a list of the 86 common EV terms and definitions.


All Electric Range (AER)

According to the California EPA, AER means the total number of miles driven electrically on a full charge before the engine turns on.

Alternating Current (AC)

According to the US DOT, Alternating Current (AC) is one of the two methods of charging an electric vehicle. It comes from the grid and is a slower method than DC.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV)

An alternative fuel vehicle is any type of vehicle that runs on a fuel other than standard petroleum gasoline or diesel.


AMP (short for ampere) is a unit for measuring electric current. For EVs, we describe the chargers by how many AMPs they have.


According to the University of Washington, the anode is the part of a battery that is the negative electrode. It releases electrons during a reaction.



An electrical energy storage device consisting of modules or cells that store energy, power, and propel the electric vehicle.

Battery Composition

According to the University of Warwick, an electric vehicle battery has three parts: cells, modules, and the pack. Cells are individual units that carry energy and form modules, and modules form packs.


BEV stands for Battery Electric Vehicle. It is another term for a fully electric vehicle.



A cathode is the positive electrode part of a battery that receives electrons. The cathode is where the current leaves the cell.


According to the US Department of Energy, CCS stands for combined charging systems. It is the standard in electric vehicles consisting of a port that allows AC or DC charging.


CCZ is the Congestion Charge Zone in London. There is a £15 charge if you drive in the zone during certain hours, but electric vehicles can get a discount.


CHAdeMO is a Japanese DC fast-charging system for electric vehicles. It is a competitor of the more popular CCS.

Charge Speed

Charge speed refers to how quickly you can charge an electric vehicle battery. According to the US DOT, there are three charge speeds: Level 1, Level 2, and Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC).


Charging is the process of drawing an electric current into the electric vehicle’s battery.


According to Law Insider, a charging point is a place or device where an electric vehicle can charge, like a charging station.


According to the Massachusetts Legislature, a charging station is an assembly that charges electric vehicle batteries through the transfer of electric energy.


Electric vehicle charging cables have two connectors – one that connects to the power source and one to the vehicle’s port.



Stands for direct current, which is when an electrical charge flows in one direction.


Direct Current (DC) is the fastest method of charging an electric vehicle battery. According to the US DOE, direct current fast charging allows for rapid charging along heavy corridors.


Direct current is the fastest way to charge an electric vehicle.

Drive Units

The drive unit is the power center of an electric vehicle. Its main parts are the motor, transmission, battery, and power electronics.



EREV stands for extended-range electric vehicles. According to Science Direct, an EREV is a fully-electric vehicle with an onboard, fuel-powered engine that can recharge the battery and extend the driving range.

ETL Label

ETL stands for electrical testing laboratories. Electric vehicle parts with an ETL label passed a safety certification test that met industry standards.


Electric vehicles (EVs) are battery-powered instead of using fossil fuels, and they do not emit carbon dioxide.

EV Battery

The rechargeable EV battery stores the energy that powers the vehicle’s electric motor.


Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme is a United Kingdom government-funded program to support home charging equipment for plug-in electric vehicles.


Electric vehicle supply equipment is a general term for all the equipment associated with an electric vehicle, including charging stations, plugs, cord sets, and other parts.


Factory ZERO

GM’s first fully dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant. Zero refers to GM’s goal of zero crashes, emissions, or congestion.


FCEV stands for fuel cell electric vehicles.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle

According to US DOE, fuel cell electric vehicles use hydrogen for power. Like an electric vehicle, the fuel cell converts hydrogen into a usable form of electricity.



A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) has an internal combustion engine that uses gasoline and one or more electric motors that store energy in batteries.



Internal combustion engines (ICE) are traditional engines that usually burn gasoline or diesel. Some vehicles pair an ICE with a battery-powered electric motor for hybrid power.


As the world transitions to clean energy and renewable resources, many governments have offered incentives like tax credits and rebates to purchase electric vehicles. Additionally, some utility companies offer incentives for off-peak charging.


Intertek is a quality assurance provider that inspects products for safety. Intertek applies an ETL Label to electric vehicle products that pass a safety certification test and meet industry standards.


Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

According to the US DOE, we measure the fuel efficiency of electric batteries in kilowatt-hours (kWh), the amount of energy a battery uses if it runs for an hour.

Kilowatt (kW)

kW stands for a kilowatt (kW), which is one thousand watts.


Level 1 Charging

According to the US Department of Transportation, Level 1 is the slowest level of charging for an electric vehicle. It uses a common residential 120-volt AC outlet and can take 40-50 hours to charge an EV battery.

Level 2 Charging

Level 2 Charging is the mid-level speed for charging an electric vehicle. It uses a 240-volt outlet and can charge an electric vehicle battery in 4-10 hours. It can be in residential or public areas.

Level 3 Charging (DC)

Level 3 charging is the fastest type of charging for an electric vehicle. It uses direct current and can fully charge an electric vehicle battery in twenty minutes to an hour.

Lithium-Ion Battery

A type of rechargeable battery where lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode along the electrolyte conductor. According to the US DOE, most all-electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries.



A mild hybrid electric vehicle has an electric motor and battery with a traditional combustion engine. The electric motor and battery help power the vehicle but cannot power it alone.

Miles per Gallon Gasoline Equivalent (MPGe)

According to the EPA, MPGe measures the fuel economy of hybrid and electric vehicles. It is similar to miles per gallon but measures how many miles the vehicle can travel on a unit of electricity.


Miles per kilowatt hour is another method of measuring the fuel economy of hybrid and electric vehicles. It measures how many miles a vehicle can travel per kilowatt hour.


National Electric Code article 625. The NEC is a United States standard for the safe installation of electric equipment. Article 625 pertains to electric vehicle charging and supply equipment.


The New European Driving Cycle. According to Global Fuel Economy, NEDC is a testing standard to measure fuel economy/electric vehicle range and emissions.

NEMA 4 Enclosure

National Electrical Manufacturers Association. A NEMA 4 Enclosure is an indoor/outdoor carbon steel enclosure that can protect electrical equipment from dust, rain, and hose water.

NRTL Listing

Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory programs. According to the US Department of Labor, these are independent third-party organizations that evaluate and test products for safety.


OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

According to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are organizations that manufacture products from acquired parts and then sell the product under the company’s brand name.

Off-Peak Charging

Refers to charging an electric or hybrid vehicle during hours when demand is lowest. Some utility companies and municipalities offer rebates and incentives for off-peak charging.


Office of Low Emission Vehicles, a United Kingdom government program to promote the transition to zero-emission electric vehicles. It is now called the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles.



According to US DOE, a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle has a larger battery that powers an electric motor alongside an internal combustion engine. Drivers can charge a PHEV battery at home or use a public charging station.


Plug-in Car Grant is a United Kingdom government program offering monetary incentives to purchase a plug-in electric vehicle. The program ended in June 2022.

Pure Electric Vehicle (PEV)

According to Science Direct, a Pure Electric Vehicle (PEV) runs entirely on electric power and does not have a traditional internal combustion engine.



The distance a vehicle can travel before depleting fuel.

Range Anxiety

According to Science Direct, this refers to the fear many electric vehicle drivers and prospective drivers have that their batteries will run out of power and there are no nearby charging stations.

Range per Hour (RPH)

According to the US DOT, this estimates how much range a charging station can give with one hour of charging.


Regen is the shortened term for regenerative braking.

Regenerative Braking

The process electric vehicles use to capture the kinetic energy used in braking to power the vehicle’s battery.

Renewable Energy

According to the UN, renewable energy comes from natural sources like the sun and wind.


Range-extended vehicle. Another abbreviation for an EREV.


Range per hour



According to the Oregon Government, SAE (society of automotive engineers) COMBO (CCS) is a DC fast-charger plug that can charge a mid-range vehicle in a half hour.


According to the US DOT, this is a standard plug connector type that can handle Level 1 or Level 2 charging. Its other name is a J plug.


Third-party, independent organizations give safety certification to products like electric vehicles. OSHA provides a current list of these organizations.

Solid-state battery

According to the US DOE, this type of lithium-ion battery does not contain liquid. It is currently in design and theoretically will have fewer carbon emissions and store more energy.


According to Science Direct, this type of electric storage device can charge quickly and release a large amount of power. In EVs, they assist with regenerative braking and bursts of speed.



A fast-charging station for Tesla vehicles that gives 200 miles of range in 15 minutes.


Torque is the measure of force that causes an object, like a tire, to rotate. According to the US DOE, EVs provide instant torque from a standstill for fast acceleration.

Type 1 and Type 2 Cables

Type 1 cables connect to the Level 1 chargers, and Type 2 cables connect to the Level 2 chargers.

Type 1 PLUG

A 5-pin AC plug standard in America.

Type 2 PLUG

A 7-pin AC plug standard in Europe.


UL Listed

UL is a global safety science company that certifies products for safety. A UL-Listed product passed the safety certification test.


Ultra Low Emission Zone. A designated area of London where vehicles must pay a fee if they do not meet emission standards.


A GM-designed battery the company plans to use in future electric vehicles.

Utility Rate (TOU)

According to the US DOE, utility companies charge TOU (time-of-use) rates where prices change during the day depending on whether the hours are peak or off-peak.


Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)

According to the US DOE, this is the process of electric vehicle batteries feeding energy back to the grid.


Units of electric potential

Volts, amps, and watts

According to the University of Wisconsin, volts multiplied by amps equals watts.


Watt-Hours per mile (Wh/mi)

A description of an EVs fuel economy using how much energy (watt-hours) the vehicle uses to travel one mile, similar to mpkWh.


Units of power we use to measure electricity.

Wh/kg (Watt-Hours per Kilogram)

According to the University of Washington, watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg) is a way to measure the density of lithium-ion batteries.

Wh/L (Watt-Hours per Liter)

According to the US DOE, watt-hours per liter (Wh/L) is a way to measure the density of lithium-ion batteries.

Wireless Battery Management System (wBMS)

According to Science Direct, a battery management system regulates cell voltage measurement and control in lithium-ion batteries. A wireless battery management system (wBMS) functions without wired connections.


Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure. The UK government mandated the WLTP to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new cars.


Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV)

A vehicle that does not emit pollutants.