Electric Car Jargon Buster
Electric cars are fast becoming the norm on UK roads as drivers realise the benefits of EVs. However, if you’ve not made the switch yet, it can be difficult getting your head around what all the jargon for these cars means.
Don’t worry, though. We’ve put together a handy list of all the terms you’ll need to know to get started finding your perfect electric car.
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AC (Alternating Current)
AC charging refers to the type of electricity that comes from the national grid.
The most common form of electric car charging is from a home wallbox which will always be AC. However, because EVs can only store the Direct Current (DC) charge, they all come with a converter (also known as an ‘onboard charger’) that converts power from AC to DC.
This process happens while you’re charging your electric car and is the reason why AC charging is slower than DC charging.
BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)
BEV is just another term used to describe an all-electric car which is powered solely by electricity.
Charging connector types
It’s less common than Type 2 charging, which is found on most European models.
Type 2 electric car connectors have a seven pin plug with a flat edge.
A Type 2 connector can carry three-phase power and plugs into the socket of a charging point.
Only used for rapid charging, CHAdeMO connectors have a four pin plug and are popular on Asian-produced EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
On the example models above, rapid charging using a CHAdeMO will give an 80% charge in 40 minutes (Nissan Leaf) and 25 minutes (Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV), respectively.
A CHAdeMO connector requires two separate sockets and is less powerful than the European alternative (Combined Charging System, or ‘CSS’).
Combined Charging System (CSS)
The European alternative to CHAdeMO, CCS is what most drivers in the UK and Europe will use at public charging stations for a quick top-up.
A rapid charge adding 80% of battery life to the Renault Zoe can be achieved in just 45 minutes using a CCS rapid charging.
UK 3 pin
Last and unfortunately least is the standard UK 3 pin outlet.
While you can still charge your electric car using the standard cable supplied with your EV, it will lack the safety and speed of a dedicated chargepoint. What’s more is that these sockets aren’t designed to sustain long charges that require as much power as an electric car does.
The only exception is with models that have very small batteries that can’t be fast charged using a standard wallbox. For example, the Renault Twizy can only be charged using a three-pin socket, which takes around four hours for a full charge. That’s because it has a tiny 6.1kWh battery and an official range of just 62 miles.
DC (Direct Current)
The opposite to AC, DC is a charge of electricity that flows in one direction and is more commonly known as ‘rapid charging’. This type of charger tends to be reserved for public charging stations.
Most electric cars come with rapid charging enabled, often meaning an 80% charge when your batteries are low can be achieved in as little as 30 minutes.
A common rechargable battery which is used in all fully-electric cars. It’s also the same type of battery used in mobile phones and laptops.
Manufacturers use ‘Li-ion’ batteries because they are lightweight, reliable and have a higher energy density than other types of batteries. On top of this, lithium-ion batteries have good high-temperature performance which allows them to perform better.
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The metric used to show how far an electric car can travel (usually shown in miles) on a full charge until empty.
All electric cars are tested for their range and energy consumption using what’s known as the World harmonized Light-duty vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). This new method of testing is more accurate than the old way, with more realistic driving behaviours factored in to deliver more realistic results.
When looking for an electric car you’re likely to come across another figure in relation to range, called ‘real world range’. This tends to be published once car reviewers and customers alike have had a chance to do a long-term review of an electric car.
Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV)
ULEV refers to cars that have tailpipe CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions of less than 75g/km.
You’ll probably recognise the name in the context of ‘ULEZ’, which refers to Ultra Low Emission Zones. These are dedicated areas of cities that promote better air quality by charging drivers that pass through these zones in a car that doesn’t meet this standard.
London is the best example of a major city using ULEZ to improve air quality. The daily charges in place for cars, vans and HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) include:
- £12.50 for cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes kerb weight)
- £100 for heavier cars, including lorries over 3.5 tonnes and coaches/buses over 5 tonnes
Electric car concepts
Charging your electric car at home is one of the most popular ways to fully charge an EV. This is because you can park on your driveway and make use of cheaper off-peak electricity tariffs by plugging in overnight.
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This is when you plug your car in whenever you park while out on the road. It’s a good practice if you suffer from ‘range anxiety’ as you can make the most out of not using your car by topping up the batteries.
What’s more is that many places such as supermarkets and other retailers tend to offer free charging for visitors. So, not only can you conveniently charge your car, but you can also do it for free – further reducing vehicle costs.
If you have a long-distance journey that requires you to stop off at some point for a quick charge, this is what’s known as ‘en-route charging’.
It’s best to use rapid public charging stations when practicing en-route charging because you can reduce your waiting time and get back on the road quicker. Most EVs can achieve an 80% charge in 30-40 minutes which is plenty to keep you on your journey without running out of charge.
If Urban Dictionary had any electric car term in its repertoire then this would be it.
In short, ICEd is when an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle parks where a chargepoint is, preventing you from charging.
Should this happen to you, don’t respond angrily. Just put a polite note on the windscreen of the car with your phone number will do.
These cards tend to be used by older chargepoints to allow you access to EV charging.
Most charging points use an app instead that you can download on your smartphone to control your charge.
In some instances, you can just start and pay for charging with just a tap of your card. However, a lot of the time you’ll need an app so be sure to have your phone with you when you go out in your electric car.
Range per hour (RPH)
Refers to the miles of range per hour of charge.
Kilowatt hour (kWh)
A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a unit of energy that equals the amount of energy you would use if you kept a 1,000 watt appliance running for one hour.
The size of an electric car battery tends to be measured in kilowatt hours. For example, big EV batteries that are spared for bigger/more powerful electric cars include the 75kWh battery found in the top-spec Tesla cars.
Wi-Fi connected chargepoints that have a range of clever functions is referred to as a smart charger.
The operators of these units can work out how much charge your car needs and works out the best times to charge based on grid demand.
These chargers tend to be more expensive than average (around £800). However, with the ‘OLEV Grant’ you can get up to £350 off the cost of purchasing and installing a home charging point.
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Vehicle to Grid (V2G)
This is the concept of using the battery of your electric car battery to release power through the charger. You can use this surplus energy in the building the charger is connected to or back into the grid.
Usually found in most UK homes and some businesses, single-phase power is what all 3 pin plug sockets provide.
With single-phase electricity supply you can power a dedicated chargepoint up to 7kW – plenty for most drivers to charge their electric car fully overnight.
Three-phase power is often found on commercial and industrial sites. It provides three alternating currents, allowing up to 22kW AC charging.
The very top three-phase electricity is a necessity when installing DC rapid charging stations.
Rapid Charge Paradox
The illogical truth that EV drivers tend to only wait for charging at rapid chargers.
This is because most charging is done at slower chargepoints where drivers can do other things while waiting for their car to charge.
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