EV Glossary of Terms

If you’re new to the world of electric vehicles it’s exciting but sometimes daunting, to learn the terminology and rules. It might feel like there’s too much to remember.

For example, you might not know how long it takes to charge an electric car. The answer varies – it can take as little as 30 minutes or more than 12 hours. It all depends on the size of the car battery and the speed of the charge point.

And then there’s all the new jargon to get used to, which can be confusing. You might think the meaning of ICE is to avoid driving on a freezing road. It’s actually the car acronym for an internal combustion engine. While that’s what traditional cars are known as, you might have never needed to know until you bought an EV – electric vehicle.

There’s lots more EV lingo to learn. And even if you’re not a first-time user, it’s a good idea to brush up on your knowledge from time to time.

Honda’s glossary will help you become an expert in the electric car terminology.

Battery of an EV

A-Z Glossary of Terms & Definitions


AC stands for ‘alternating current’. This is an electric current that reverses direction at regular intervals. AC is one of the two kinds of ‘fuels’ used to charge electric cars. Most chargers use AC power, but AC is converted to DC (direct current) when it’s fed into an EV’s battery.

Alternative fuel vehicle

Vehicles that run on different fuel to ICE cars. Alternative fuel vehicles include engines that don’t rely only on petrol, including BEVs and PHEVs or solar-powered vehicles.


Unit of electric current in the International System of Units. Often shortened to ‘amp’.


The acronym for Battery Electric Vehicle. BEVs are 100% battery-powered electric vehicles. There is no internal combustion engine, no fuel tank and no exhaust pipe. BEVs include cars, motorbikes, scooters, buses and boats.

Combined Charging System (CCS)

Standardised by the EU, this connector is only used for rapid charging points and is compatible with EVs manufactured by European brands. This is the same plug as a standard UK electrical outlet. It can be used to charge some electric vehicles but lacks the safety, speed and security features of dedicated systems.


The act of refilling the battery of an electric car. In BEVs, this replaces the old system of filling a fuel tank. Hybrid cars use charging and refuelling methods.

Charging point

The location where EVs are plugged in and charged. Installed at home, workplaces or in public charging locations, such as service stations. There are more than 42,000 charge point connectors across the UK in over 15,500 locations.


The acronym for direct current. DC is an electric current with one constant direction. Batteries, including the ones in EVs, can only store power as DC. As power from the grid is always AC, it needs to be converted to DC. Some EV chargers have converters inside the charger, making charging faster.

En-route charging

En-route charging refers to the process of recharging an electric vehicle's battery while on a journey or trip. This can be done by stopping at charging stations located along the route or at specific points, such as rest areas or hotels, to recharge the battery. En-route charging can help increase the range of an electric vehicle and allow drivers to travel longer distances without worrying about running out of battery power.


EV is the acronym for an electric vehicle, which is the name for any vehicle that uses electric motors, either in full or in part, as their means of propulsion. Includes cars, e-scooters and e-bikes.


Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, or EVSE, is a protocol designed to help keep you and your EV safe while you’re charging it. Two-way communication is used between the car and the charger to set the correct charging current. This is based on the maximum current the charger can provide, as well as the maximum the car can receive. A safety lock-out stops the current from flowing when the charger isn’t connected.


EREV stands for Extended Range Electric Vehicle. These vehicles have an auxiliary power unit (known as a range extender) which increases the EVEV’s driving range. Normally, these are conventional combustion engines that use an electric generator that recharges the battery when it becomes empty.


Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) are vehicles that use a fuel cell to generate electricity to power a motor. The fuel cell consists of oxygen from the air and hydrogen from an onboard storage tank. You don’t need to plug an FCEV into an electricity supply to recharge its battery.


HEV is the acronym for Hybrid Electric Vehicles – also known as hybrids. These vehicles use the battery and electric motor to improve the engine’s efficiency. The battery is charged by the internal combustion engine with petrol or diesel. The battery in an HEV is smaller than in an EV, so HEVs can only run on electricity for a short time before having to switch to combustion power. HEVs can’t be plugged in to charge.

Home charging

Plugging in your electric car to charge while it’s parked at home, usually overnight, is most efficient. Installing a home charging point is the best and safest way of charging your electric car.


Government incentives are policies or programs implemented by national or local governments to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and reduce carbon emissions. In Europe, several countries have implemented various incentives to promote the use of EVs.

For example, in France, EV owners are eligible for a subsidy of up to €7,000 for the purchase of a new electric car. This subsidy is reduced for more expensive vehicles and for those with larger batteries. France also has a scrappage scheme that offers an additional €2,500 bonus for trading in an older, polluting vehicle for a new electric car.

Germany has a similar subsidy program for EVs, with up to €6,000 in grants available for the purchase of a new electric car. Additionally, EV owners are exempt from motor vehicle tax for 10 years and have access to designated parking spots and bus lanes.


No, the meaning of ICE here isn’t the slippery stuff. It’s the acronym for Internal Combustion Engine. ICEs are the traditional way to power a vehicle. In ICEs, the high-temperature and high-pressure gases produced by combustion power the vehicle.


kWh stands for Kilowatt-Hour. This is a unit of energy equivalent to the energy transferred or expended in an hour by one kilowatt of power. EV battery sizes are measured in this unit. So, if an EV has a 52 kWh battery, it can store 52 units of electricity.

Lithium-Ion Battery

An abbreviation for the rechargeable lithium-ion battery used in BEVs and PHEVs. Like laptop and mobile phone batteries, they can be recycled.

New energy vehicle (NEV)

This term is used to refer to vehicles that are partially or fully powered by electricity, such as battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Plug-in vehicle (PIV)

This is an overall term for any car with a plug socket for charging lithium-ion batteries – including battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles.


PHEV stands for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. These cars are configured like a traditional hybrid. However, they are equipped with a bigger battery pack that you can charge by plugging into an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment). PHEVs allow short journeys on electricity, but they also enable long journeys.

Pure Electric

Pure Electric vehicles are powered purely by electric motors via onboard battery power. Pure Electric cars are also known as BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles).


Range refers to the distance that an EV can travel on a single charge of its battery.

The range is measured in kilometres and is an important factor for prospective buyers, as it determines the practicality and convenience of owning an electric car.

Range estimates have increased as technology has advanced but it's important to note that the range of an EV can be affected by a variety of factors, including driving style, weather conditions, and terrain.

RPH-Range per hour

Range per Hour (RPH): A measurement of the distance an Electric Vehicle (EV) can travel in one hour on a single charge. This metric is used to compare the efficiency of different EV models and to help EV owners plan long trips and determine how much charge they will need to reach their destination.

Regenerative Braking

An energy recovery system used in electric and hybrid vehicles that assists in charging the battery as the car slows down. Regenerative braking captures kinetic energy from braking and helps extend the range. Learn more about this fascinating process with our in-depth breakdown of regenerative braking.

RFID Cards

Utilising the same technology found in a contactless debit card, these cards – Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) – are used by many of the older charge points to allow access to EV charging.

SAE Combo (CCS)

The SAE Combo is an enhanced version of the type 2 plug. It features two further power contacts for quick charging. This plug supports both AC and DC charging power levels of up to 170 kW.

Type 1: A five-pin plug that also features a clip.

Type 2: A seven-pin plug, typically found on EVs manufactured by European brands.

Public charging stations are normally equipped with type 2 sockets.

Tesla Supercharger

The Tesla Supercharger is a modified version of the type 2 SEA Combo connector (sometimes known as the Mennekes plug). This charger has fast charging speeds and enables the Tesla Model S EV to charge to 80% within half an hour.


The physical measurement of the force that causes rotation or ‘turning power’. In cars, torque provides the car’s ability to accelerate. Electric motors deliver maximum torque from zero revs, which results in acceleration from a position of standstill much quicker than that of an ICE car.

Top-up charging

This is charging your electric vehicle wherever you park it, topping up as you go while you’re out and about. Public charge points can be located by going online or downloading helpful apps.

Ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV)

An Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) is a vehicle that emits very low levels of pollutants compared to traditional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles. In Europe, a ULEV is defined as a vehicle that emits less than 75g/km of carbon dioxide (CO2) and meets the Euro 6 emissions standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM).

Utility Rate (TOU)

Time of use tariffs, or TOUs, encourage customers to use energy during off-peak times. When applied to EV charging, the rate for customers is based on the time of day in which the energy was drawn, not just the total electricity used.

Level 1 Charge (Slow)

Level 1 is the slowest type of charging equipment. An L1 charge is equivalent to 2.4kW, which is the power of a 3-pin household electrical outlet. On average this results in a charging rate of 6 miles per hour. Due to its slow speed, Level 1 can take up to a day to charge fully.

Level 2 Charge (Fast)

Level 2 charging goes up to 7.4kW with a single-phase power supply, and 11kW with a 3-phase power supply. To get these speeds at home you’ll need a smart home charger. Some level 2 public chargers can reach as high as 43kW on DC power.


The acronym for Zero Emission Vehicles. These cars emit no tailpipe pollutants from the source of power.

EV Glossary of Terms | FAQs

What are the main components of an EV?

The main components of an EV are an electric motor that is powered by a battery pack. You’ll also find power converters, charge ports, an onboard charger, a controller, a transmission and a thermal system.

How many types of EVs are there?

There are three main electric vehicle types. These are battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles.