Looking to buy an electric vehicle, but don’t know where to start? There can be many terms and acronyms surrounding EVs that are difficult to keep track of. To help, we’ve made an electric vehicles glossary to help you navigate the process.
Types of Cars
ICEV: Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle. A vehicle that runs on gasoline or diesel.
BEV: Battery Electric Vehicle. A vehicle that runs solely on battery power, with an electric motor instead of a combustion engine
PHEV: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A vehicle that has both an electric motor and a combustion engine requiring gasoline. A PHEV can complete shorter trips of up to 30 miles on battery alone, but it has a reduced electric range due to the need to carry its combustion engine.
HEV: Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A vehicle distinct from a PHEV because it is primarily fueled by gas, used to power an electric motor. An HEV can’t be plugged in to charge, and it will require gas to run.
HFCV: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle. An experimental electric vehicle that uses a hydrogen fuel cell to power its motor and does not plug in. These vehicles emit only water vapor but are expensive and must refuel at specific hydrogen fueling stations, of which there are currently less than 100 in the US.
ZEV: Zero Emission Vehicle. A vehicle that has no tailpipe emissions. BEVs and HFCVs are ZEVs, but PHEVs and ICEVs are not.
Level 1 Charging: Charging from a basic 110-120V wall outlet. Can be used with almost any standard outlet, but will only charge at a rate of 3-5 miles of range added per hour.
Level 2 Charging: Charging from an installed 240V charger or station. Most EVs will recharge fully with 4-8 hours of charge time, or 12-30 miles of range added per hour. This type of charger is what many EV owners will have installed in their homes.
Level 3 / DC Fast Charging: Charging from a 480V direct current (DC) station, the type with the fastest available rate. Most EVs can recharge from 10-80% in 15-30 minutes with a fast charge, with 180-240 miles of range added per hour. Charging speeds slow down once at 80% with fast charging to protect the health of the battery.
kWh: kilowatt-hour. The standard unit for battery capacity. EVs currently have battery capacities ranging from 35 kWh to 200 kWh, with most typically around the 65-100 kWh range. Many factors such as air resistance, weight, and motor can affect driving range, so a larger kWh battery does not necessarily equate to a greater range in different vehicles.
MPGe: Miles per gallon-equivalent. A measurement of how far an EV can travel with 33.7 kWh, the energy equivalent of 1 gallon of gas. Since the electric motors in EVs are much more efficient than combustion engines, EVs can regularly achieve over 100 MPGe, with some models rated for over 130 MPGe. By comparison, the average midsize ICEV can only get 30 MPG.
Regenerative braking: the ability to recapture kinetic energy while an EV slows down and convert it back into stored energy in the battery. Regenerative braking can help extend an EV’s range by “recycling” the energy spent in speeding up the car. Some cars’ regenerative braking abilities also allow for single-pedal driving if braking is configured to kick in automatically, with the brake pedal needed only for more severe stopping.
V2G: Vehicle-to-grid. V2G charging allows EVs to use their battery power to feed energy back into the electrical grid, providing extra support when electricity demand is high. Through V2G, an EV can store energy at cheaper off-peak hours and discharge it during peak hours to ease the burden on the electrical grid.