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Electric vehicle jargon
Amp (A): Amps (or amperes) are a measurement of electrical current. This measures how many electrons are passing through a point at a given time. One amp is equal to one coulomb (a unit of electrons) per second. Think of this as the water flow rate in your home plumbing. Amps are calculated by dividing power (wattage) by voltage.
Alternating Current (AC): An electric current that reverses direction at regular intervals.
AVAS: Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System. Also known as a Pedestrian Warning System (PWS). This system creates a sound when the vehicle is moving at 20km/hour (and faster) and when it is reversing. Road safety has been significantly improved by the implementation of this system. AVAS is not only used in EVs but also in hybrids, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen cars.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV): A vehicle that runs exclusively on battery power.
Charging: Refiling an electric cars battery with electricity.
Charging Point: The location where electric vehicles can be plugged in and charged, whether at home, work or in a public accessible location.
Connector: A device attached to the cable from an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) that connects to an electric vehicle allowing it to charge.
Direct Current: An electric current of constant direction.
DC Fast Charge: The fastest (high powered) way to charge electric vehicles quickly with an electrical output ranging from 50KW-120KW. This will fully charge an average EV in 20-40 minutes.
Electric vehicle (EV): A vehicle propelled by an electric motor. EV is a wide umbrella term that can encompass many different subtypes.
Extended range electric vehicle (EREV): A vehicle that relies primarily on electric power, but also has a combustion engine as a backup for when the charge dies. Unlike a hybrid, the engine never drives the wheels directly.
Fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV): A vehicle that relies on hydrogen fuel cells to charge the vehicle’s battery.
Hybrid (HEV): A vehicle that uses both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine to achieve better efficiency.
Internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV): A traditional vehicle that relies on petroleum fuel to operate.
Kilowatt-Hour (KWH): A unit of energy equivalent to the energy transferred or expended in one hour by one kilowatt of power. Electric car battery size is measured in kilowatt-hours, so think of it as the electric car’s equivalent of gallons of fuel in a gas tank.
Lithium-Ion Battery: This is the current standard in electric vehicle batteries, offering good energy density, power, and fast charging ability. The life of a lithium-ion battery is estimated to be the same as the life of the car (eight to ten years). Of course, ‘end of life’ here does not mean a car or its batteries won’t work – after 10 years a lithium-ion battery is expected to be 80% still efficient, so they will still be usable – replacement will be a choice, not a requirement.
Mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEV): A vehicle that relies primarily on an internal combustion engine, with support available from a small electric motor. MHEVs are unable to operate on battery power alone.
Neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV): A small, low-speed electric vehicle.
Ohms (Ω): A measurement of electrical resistance. Resistance determines how well a material conducts electricity. One of the reasons EVs charge more slowly in cold climates is because lower temperatures increase electrical resistance. Battery degradation can also increase resistance. A given wire’s length, thickness, and material have a significant effect on resistance. Ohms are calculated by dividing voltage by current (amperage).
PHEV: Plug-in hybrid vehicle. A hybrid vehicle that includes a plug for charging its internal batteries, allowing it to run on electricity for longer than a conventional hybrid.
PWS: Pedestrian Warning System. This system creates a sound when the vehicle is moving at 20km/hour (and faster) and when it is reversing. Road safety has been significantly improved by the implementation of this system. AVAS is not only used in EVs but also in hybrids, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen cars.
Range: The distance you can travel on pure electric power before the battery requires a recharge.
Range Anxiety: This refers to the anxious feeling of operating an electric vehicle with the fear of running out of battery charge while driving.
Volts (V): A measurement of electrical force. It measures the amount of work needed to move an amp of energy between two points. Think of it like water pressure in your home plumbing. Voltage is calculated by dividing power (wattage) by current (amperage). You’ll often see voltage ratings for charging stations. A higher voltage means a higher charging rate for your EV.
Worldwide harmonized light vehicles test procedure (WLTP): A modern test that measures the fuel consumption and emissions of vehicles in real-world driving.
Watts (W): A measurement of electrical power. One watt is equal to one joule (a unit of work) per second. Wattage is calculated by multiplying voltage by current (amperage). Since watts take into account the force and the flow rate of electricity, it is often the measure of the final electrical output for charging points.
Zero-emission vehicle (ZEV): A vehicle that emits no pollutants from its operation.