A new way of driving brings with it new terminology as well as technology. To help you become more familiar with electrification, we’ve compiled this glossary of terms which specifically relates to electric and some hybrid vehicles.

Front facing Honda Sports EV Concept vehicle.

Vehicle types

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) and electric vehicle (EV)

Just like our Urban and Sports EV Concepts shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2019, the terms EV and BEV solely refer to pure-electric vehicles that are propelled by an electric motor and powered by electricity from lithium-ion batteries.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)

A car that combines a traditional internal combustion engine and a rechargeable battery. This allows for either pure electric-powered driving, an extended journey using the petrol engine, or a combination of petrol and electric motors.

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.

Ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV)

This refers to a car that has tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions of less than 75g/km. ULEVs with carbon dioxide emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any emissions are also eligible for up to a £3,000 grant from the UK government.

Range-extended EV

An electric car that has a small petrol generator installed, which is only used to recharge the batteries when they run low. These small petrol engines are not designed to propel the vehicle.

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.

Fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV)

A fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), like the Honda Fuel Cell Clarity, doesn’t need charging. It generates electricity to power the motor by using oxygen and compressed hydrogen instead of using a battery. The Honda Clarity is a zero emission car, the electric power is generated by hydrogen.

Alternative fuel vehicle

This term is used for a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than the traditional petrol or diesel. This includes engines that don't solely rely on petrol, such as battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or solar-powered vehicles.

Honda technical drawing of charging types.

Batteries and connectors

Charging cable connectors

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

Type 2: A seven-pin plug with one flat edge, this connector is typically found on EVs manufactured by European brands.

The CHAdeMO type is a round four pin plug. This connector is only used for rapid charging points and is typically compatible with EVs manufactured by Asian brands.

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 and can be used to charge some electric vehicles, but lacks the safety, speed and security features of dedicated systems.

LI-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.

Front three-quarter facing Honda Urban EV Concept with charging point.

Charging an electric 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 using the internet or by downloading helpful apps.

Home charging

Plugging your electric car in 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.

En-route charging

Many motorway service stations now feature rapid charging points installed and run by Ecotricity, which allow you to charge your electric car up to 80% capacity in as little as 30 minutes. Register on the Ecotricity website and you’ll receive a free swipe card so you can easily take long-distance trips in your EV.


When you’ve been ICEd, means a charge point is occupied by a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE), preventing you from charging your EV.

RFID Cards

Utilising the same technology used 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.

Open charge

This technology allows you to charge your electric vehicle without an RFID card, or membership card. It’s known as the ‘POD Point’ network. Simply use the ‘POD Point’ app to find your nearest charge point to confirm your charge.

Range per hour (RPH) and Kilowatt hour (kWh)

RPH is miles of range per hour of charge. While kWh is a unit of energy equivalent to the energy transferred in one hour by one kilowatt of power. All electric car batteries are measured in kilowatt hours.

Single-phase power and three-phase power

Found in most UK homes and businesses, single-phase power is what all standard three-pin plug sockets provide. Single-phase electricity can power up to 7kW ‘POD Point’ chargers for up to 30 miles of range, per hour of charge (RPH). Three-phase power is often found on commercial and industrial sites; this provides three alternating currents of the same voltage and is required for safer charging with fast and rapid chargers.

Close up of Honda Urban EV Concept battery power.

Types of charging

Trickle charging

The slowest type of charging, this is best reserved for long overnight charges at home and is provided by a standard three-pin plug. However, this type of charging lacks the safety features of a dedicated charging point that is specially designed to charge battery electric vehicles.

Slow charging

A better – and safer – option for home charging, this allows for both top-up and overnight charging through a dedicated charging point.

Fast charging

Ideal for top-up charging, this can provide up to 30 miles of range per hour of charging or a full charge in a few hours. Fast chargers are ideal for keeping you going while you’re out and about. You’ll find them in public car parks via the Open Charge app.

Rapid charging

You’ll find these charge-points in motorway service stations. Rapid chargers allow for around 80% charge in around 30 minutes. Good to know for long road trips and journeys outside your local area.

Range anxiety

The term given to a fear of running out of charge while driving a plug-in EV. It’s common and only natural, but it can be avoided by topping-up the batteries whenever you can, wherever you park throughout the day.