Electric Car Jargon-Buster

If you're like me, you'll hate jargon and all those techie-terms and acronyms (capital first letters made into a word, like 'NEV' and 'PEV').

But I had to get over my little phobia when I started to learn about electric cars. And before I knew it, I was falling into the ol' lingua patois of EV-heads!

So will you, I assure you! Once you get used to the lingo, it's not so bad. To get you started, so you won't be completely lost in translation, here's my little Jargon Buster. It's got all the main jargon you're likely to come across. The rest you won't need.

With this lexicon in your back pocket, you might even sound like an expert when you're negotiating that cool deal with your electric car salesman! :)

  • AC
    This means Alternating Current.
    What's that? It's a type of circuit used in an electricity supply. If you really want to be nerdy about it, it alternates between positive and negative, thus the current flows in both directions. You didn't really want to know that did you? But what you do need to know is that AC is a pretty good type of current to power up your electric car.

  • BEV
    This means Battery Electric Vehicle.
    An electric vehicle which is powered only by batteries.

  • de-ICE
    To convert an ICE car into a NICE one! In other words making a gas car into a non-gas car.

  • DC
    This means Direct Current.
    A type of electrical current. This is the opposite to 'AC'. DC means that power flows in only one direction.

  • DOD
    Depth of Charge.
    This is a measurement of how much power you have used up from your battery. If you use up three-quarters of a battery's capacity, this means your DOD is 75%.

  • Earthed/Grounded
    This is how electricity supplies are made safe. The wiring is literally placed into the earth or ground, so that you don't get shocks when you touch your stainless steel sink, for example. In a three-pin plug, one of the pins connects to the earth/ground wire.

  • EV
    Electric Vehicle.
    How I dislike the word vehicle! An EV can mean any type of electrically powered thing that transports people, like scooters, bikes, motorbikes, even trains. And cars.

  • FCV
    Fuel Cell Vehicle.
    A FCV is a vehicle electrically powered by a fuel cell instead of a battery. This means the energy is stored in liquid form, such as hydrogen, and is constantly renewing.

  • GC
    Golf Cart.

  • HEV
    Hybrid Electric Vehicle.
    A vehicle that can supplement fuel with electric power, alternating between the two as necessary. These are not plug-ins and cannot run off electricity alone. They simply make more efficient use of gas by switching to electric mode at low speeds. The Toyota Prius is such a creature.

  • ICE
    Internal Combustion Engine.
    Popularised by Mr Ford. An engine that burns fuel, such as petrol, diesel, or biofuels.

  • Lane-splitting
    Some vehicles are narrow enough to fit side-by-side in a single traffic lane. Where it is legal, you can drive alongside other traffic as a motorbike would. This is lane-splitting. Narrow electric vehicles suitable for this are the Tango and the NmG.

  • LSV
    Low Speed Vehicle.
    Another name for a NEV (see below), just to confuse you!

  • NEV
    Neighborhood Electric Vehicle.
    Electric passenger vehicles that have a speed limit of 25 miles per hour and can be driven only in designated areas.

  • NICE
    Non Internal Combustion Engine.
    Not a gas/diesel/biofuel powered engine. All electric vehicles are NICE! (As well as being polite and very well brought up!)
    Nice is good. Ice is bad!

  • PEV
    Personal Electric Vehicle
    A car for one passenger only like the NmG(which allows you to use car-pool lanes).

  • PHEV
    Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
    These use both electricity and gas. They have a proper battery pack, just like a pure electric vehicle and you could travel the same distance using just electrical power as you could with a totally electric car. You plug 'em in to recharge the battery as the name suggests. Then, if you need to make long journeys you can switch to gasoline-mode.

  • Regenerative Braking
    Whenever you brake, that energy is recovered and passed back into your battery thus extending your driving range. Not all electric cars have this facility.

  • Torque
    The mechanical energy that propels the car forward.

  • ZEV
    Zero emissions vehicle---an electric car!

Battery Jargon


  • LiFePO4 = Lithium Iron Phosphate.

  • Li-Poly/ Li-Pol/ LiPo = Lithium Polymer.

  • LiCoO2 = Lithium Cobalt Oxide.

  • Pb-Acid = Lead-Acid.

  • NiCd Battery (NiCad) = Nickel Cadmium.

  • NiMH Battery = Nickel-Metal Hydride.

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