The electric vehicle (EV) world is awash in abbreviations and acronyms to the point where you practically need an engineering degree to break down what anyone’s talking about. Noodoe University has your back with this easy-to-understand glossary of EV and EV charging terms clearly defined for your reference.
Electric Vehicle Terms
Electrified vehicles come in three types: HEV, PHEV, and BEV. But what are those?
HEVs are Hybrid Electric Vehicles. They’re powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) that run the vehicle as well as recharge the electric battery. In some HEVs, the electric motor runs the vehicle while the ICE only recharges the battery. HEVs don’t need to be plugged in to charge up because they recharge using the gas-powered engine.
PHEV stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. They have both a gasoline engine with a tank and electric motor with a charging port. Typically, they charge up using the charging port and only make use of the gas-powered engine when the battery pack is depleted.
BEVs are the pure electric cars: Battery Electric Vehicles. These cars have no internal combustion engine. They run entirely on energy coming from the battery pack, which powers an electric motor.
EV Power Terms
When trying to break down all those numbers and descriptions for different electric vehicles, it can be easy to get lost.
Range refers to the distance an electric vehicle can drive on its battery from fully charged to empty.
Charging Speed is the amount of time it takes to charge the battery. Most manufacturers measure charging from 10% or 20% up to 80%.
SOC – State of Charge – describes how full your battery is in terms of percentage. It is the same as a fuel gauge indicator in a gas-powered vehicle.
V2G means vehicle-to-grid technology. This smart charging tech allows car batteries to give back to the power grid. With V2G, car batteries are no longer just a tool to power the vehicle but also a backup storage cell for the vehicle’s owner.
V2V stands for vehicle-to-vehicle charging capability. A car with V2V can charge another electric vehicle by using a standard EV charging cord.
CHAdeMO is also known as “Charge de Move.” This plug style was designed by a collection of automakers industry groups, mainly in Japan. Manufacturers like Nissan, Toyota, and Mitsubishi tend to use the CHAdeMO standard.
CCS stands for Combined Charging System. It covers charging electric vehicles using the Combo 1 and Combo 2 connectors at up to 80 or 350 kW. These charging system connectors are an elegant solution for fast DC charging and are mainly associated with North American and European automakers.
EV Charging Terms
AC stands for “alternating current,” referring to an electric current that continually changes direction as it flows. Batteries need DC charge for storage, so vehicles have built in rectifiers, components made to convert AC into DC. That extra step takes time, so AC charging is slower on average than DC charging.
DC is an abbreviation for “direct current,” referring to one-directional flow of electric charge. DC current is the kind needed by an EV’s battery. Since it doesn’t have to be converted from AC to DC before the battery can store it, DC charging happens much more quickly.
kWh is a measure of how much energy you’re using. EV battery capacity is measured in kilowatt-hours. For example, the 2022 Nissan Leaf has a battery capacity of 40 kWh. The Ford Mustang Mach-E, on the other hand, has a battery capacity of 68 kWh. Battery size tells you how much power the battery can discharge before it runs out of energy and thus directly affects the vehicle’s potential range.
There are three levels of EV charging: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3. Level 3 is sometimes referred to as DC fast charging.
Level 1: 120 Volt
Charging is common in household use with a 120-volt outlet. Every electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid can be charged on Level 1 by plugging the charging equipment into a regular wall outlet. It is also the slowest way to charge an EV. It adds between 3 and 5 miles of range per hour.
Vehicle Connectors: J1772, Tesla
Charging Speed: 3 to 5 Miles Per Hour
Locations: Home, Workplace, and Public
Level 2: 208-Volt to 240-Volt
This is often referred to as AC charging, and it’s a common type of charging for daily charging. This equipment can be installed at home, at office buildings, and in any public location. AC chargers are often found at retail parking lots, train stations, and restaurants. Level 2 chargers can charge between 12 and 80 miles of range per hour, depending on the power output of the Level 2 charger and the vehicle’s maximum charge rate. It charges 10 times fater than Level 1 chargers, which means an almost empty battery can be fully charged overnight.
Vehicle Connectors: J1772, Tesla
Charging Speed: 12 to 80 Miles Per Hour
Locations: Home, Workplace & Public
Level 3 Charging: 400-Volt to 900-Volt (DC Fast Charge & Supercharging)
This is the fastest type of charging available and can recharge an EV at a rate of 3 to 20 miles of range per minute. Level 3 chargers use direct current (DC) as opposed to Level 1 and Level 2 charging, which uses alternating current (AC). It requires much higher voltage than Level 1 and 2, which is why it is not installed at home. Very few residential locations have the high-voltage supply necessary for level 3 charging.
*Tesla calls their Level 3 chargers Superchargers; others are called DC Fast Chargers.
Vehicle Connectors: CCS, CHAdeMO & Tesla
Charging Speed: 3 to 20 Miles Per Minute