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  • Feb 16, 2023

  • 17 min read


EV terminology you need to know

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular every year. Drivers want to understand the latest lingo in the world of electric vehicles as technology evolves to keep up with trends.  We look at some of the important EV terms you'll need to know to make a smart purchase for your next electric car.

Vehicle types

Electric vehicles come in various shapes and sizes. There are lots of different types of EVs on the market, from fully electric to hybrid vehicles. Here are some of the most common types of electric cars that you'll find:

Electric vehicle (EV)

An EV is any vehicle that uses an electric motor to power the wheels. EVs can be either battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Plug-in vehicle (PiV)

A PiV is any vehicle that plugs into an external power source to charge the battery.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

A BEV is a fully-electric vehicle that runs entirely on battery power. BEVs have zero emissions and are very efficient. This acronym is used interchangeably with EV.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is a car that uses both battery power and a fuel-powered engine. HEVs may be more fuel-efficient than traditional fuel-powered vehicles, but they still produce emissions.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

A PHEV is a hybrid electric vehicle that plugs into an external power source to charge the battery. Some PHEVs have lower emissions than petrol or diesel cars and can drive purely on electric miles for a short journey before the engine takes over.

Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV)

A ULEV is a vehicle that produces very low emissions. They have tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions of less than 75g/km. All BEVs are considered ULEVS, and so are some hybrids or some lightweight fuel-powered cars with small engines. Just because a car is classified as a ULEV doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for the environment. If it’s powered by fossil fuels it’s still emitting greenhouse gases when you drive it.

Range-extended EV (RE-EV or REx)

A range-extended EV is an electric vehicle that has a backup petrol generator to extend the range. This type of EV is not as common as other EVs, but it's worth mentioning because it's a unique option for those who want an EV with a longer range. The downside to the RE-EV is that it generates electricity from fossil-fuels so it’s not as environmentally friendly as a BEV.

Full Hybrid or “Self-Charging” Hybrid

This is a type of HEV that can charge its own battery using the energy generated from braking and coasting. Full hybrids can be more efficient than pure petrol or diesel engines, but their electric range is quite short compared to a BEV. This means they still mainly use fossil fuels to move from place to place.

Charging connector types

There are also several different types of EV charging connectors, which can be confusing for drivers. Here are the most common types of connectors that you'll find on EVs:

Type 1

The five-pin plug with a built-in clip is common in the US and can be found on EVs made by Asian and American manufacturers, such as Nissan, Mitsubishi and GM. ​Since Nissan began using Type 2 connectors, the demand for them has steadily decreased.

Type 2

This connector type is the European Standard and every car sold to European specs must have a Type 2 connection. It has one flat edge and seven pins and was originally favoured by brands such as BMW or VW group, and was adopted by Tesla when they arrived in Europe.   It’s by far the most popular choice due to its ability to carry three-phase electricity and lock into a charging station's socket.


This round, four-pin plug is the Japanese Standard connector. It was developed in Japan and is compatible with EV cars manufactured by Asian brands (such as Mitsubishi and Nissan). Nissan is the only manufacturer that still sells cars with CHAdeMO connectors, and their new models use CSS

CCS Charging Socket

The CCS charging socket is a European standard that is quickly being adopted by American and Asian manufacturers. The CCS connector looks like a Type 2 with two extra contacts at the bottom.This enables the DC charging available through CCS, with the Type 2 pins providing auxiliary power to the computer in the car.

UK 3 pin

The three-pin plug is your ‘get out of jail free’ card in the UK and Ireland. This type of connector lacks an integrated locking mechanism at the socket end, so it's not as secure as other types of connectors. If you have no other choice, you can charge from your standard plug socket at home - but we wouldn’t recommend it as your standard charging solution as it’’ll take a long time.

EV driving terms

Regenerative braking

Regenerative braking is a technology used in some electric and hybrid cars that allows the vehicle to capture some of the kinetic energy produced by braking and store it as electrical energy.

When a car with regenerative braking slows down, the electric motor that powers the car is used in reverse to generate electricity. This electricity is then sent to the car's battery for storage, where it can be used later to power the electric motor and move the car forward.

Regenerative braking is a more efficient way to slow down a car, because it uses the car's momentum to generate electricity, rather than simply converting the energy into heat, which is what traditional brakes do. This can help to extend the driving range of electric and hybrid cars, and can also reduce wear and tear on the braking system.

All Wheel Drive (AWD)

All-wheel drive (AWD) means that power is delivered to all four wheels of a vehicle, rather than just two. This allows the vehicle to have better traction and stability in various driving conditions, such as wet or slippery roads, off-road terrain, or during acceleration and cornering. You can also get this in a petrol car.

Dual Motor All Wheel Drive

This is the same as AWD, but rather than being mechanically linked like a petrol car, the electric car has two motors -  one for the front wheels and one for the back wheels. Each motor can control the power to its own wheels, allowing the car to quickly adjust the power or torque to each wheel as needed. This helps the car maintain good traction and stability, even in slippery conditions like snow or ice.

The two motors work independently of each other, so if one set of wheels is slipping, the computer can slow down power to those wheels while giving more power to the other set of wheels to maintain control. This is something that traditional fuel-powered cars can't do.

In the future, cars may have even more motors, with one motor for each wheel, which would eliminate the need for mechanical differentials and allow for more precise control and manoeuvrability. This could open up new possibilities for performance and handling, like turning on the spot or making sharp turns in tight spaces.

Key concepts

Here’s some important electric car terminology to know:

Top Up Charging

This is the process of regularly charging your EV to keep the battery topped up. This means plugging in your EV to charge whenever you have the opportunity (remember, ABC - always be charging) and setting your battery limit to 85% so your car doesn’t charge beyond this. This is the best way to keep your EV battery healthy and lasting a long time.

Home charging

Home charging is when you charge your EV at home (funnily enough!). It’s the cheapest and easiest way of charging, because you can take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity rates and when you wake up in the morning your car is topped up and ready to go.Charging to 85% every night will keep your battery in tip top condition. 

En-route Charging

En-route charging is when you charge your EV while on the go. We usually define en-route charging as a type of fast or rapid charge needed on long-distance trips to get you to your destination.

Range per hour

The range per hour of charge is the distance that an EV can travel after one hour of charging. This number varies depending on the type of charger used and the battery size of the EV, and the state of charge (SOC) of the battery.

Vehicle to Grid (V2G)

V2G is a technology that allows EVs to send energy to your home, so you don’t need to take energy off the grid. This is usually needed at times of peak demand when the grid is under strain. At peak demand, the entire United Kingdom could be supplied with electricity by just 10 million EVs storing and returning energy to the grid.

Vehicle to Load (V2L)

V2L refers to a technology that allows an electric vehicle to use its battery to power other devices or appliances, such as a phone, laptop, or even a home.

With V2L, the electric vehicle can serve as a mobile power source, providing electricity to other devices even when it's not driving. This can be useful in emergency situations, or for camping trips or other outdoor activities where power sources may be limited.

Some electric vehicles have built-in V2L capabilities, while others may require additional equipment. By providing an additional use for the vehicle's battery, V2L can help to increase the value and versatility of electric vehicles

RFID Cards

RFID cards are used to access public charging stations. The card is linked to your account and allows you to start and stop a charge, and pay for the electricity used.

Kilowatt (kW)

A unit of power normally associated with electricity.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

One kilowatt-hour is equal to the energy transferred or used in one hour by 1000 watts of power. This measurement is often seen with electric car batteries. On average, 1-kilowatt-hour will give you 3-4 miles of range in a BEV.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) vs Personal Contract Hire (PCH)

PCP - Personal Contract Purchase is a type of Hire Purchase financial product to mimic the types of pricing seen in leasing, but you own the car and are at risk of the car decreasing in value at the end of your term of use.

PCH - Personal Contract Hire is a personal lease financial product allowing you to rent a top spec electric car from a business (like Octopus Electric Vehicles), give it back at the end of the term and swap it for the newest selection of EVs and highest tech products on the market.

Types of charging

Alongside different types of connectors, there are also different types of charging. We’ll make it easy for you:


AC stands for Alternating Current. This is how most appliances in your home run, and how your home charger tops up your electric car.


DC stands for Direct Current. This is how batteries are charged. For example, if you’re charging your laptop from a three pin plug, the charger is converting your home Alternating Current to Direct Current to fill your laptop battery. AC charging works the same way. Your car has “onboard chargers” that convert the energy from AC to DC to fill the car battery pack.

Slow charging

Trickle Charging, or slow charging, is what you would use if you don’t have a charge unit at your house, or when you are visiting a friend's house. This charge is a 3.7kW rate from your 3 pin plug.

Fast charging or home charging

This is the most common type of home charging and takes between four to eight hours. Home Chargers tend to use a Type 2 connector. This type of charger is the perfect charger to pair with  Intelligent Octopus Go, our EV specialist tariff rate that fills your car with green energy overnight.

Destination charging

This is also known as three-phase charging. It’s normally found at locations with high energy use, like at gigs or sporting events. Three Phase charging uses all the pins in a Type 2 connector. You’ll find them at shopping centres, gyms, cinemas and other public places.

Rapid charging

Rapid chargers can charge an EV up to 80% in just 20 minutes. These are the fastest type of charger currently available, and have a charge rate of anywhere between 50 - 200+kW. Sadly these chargers can’t be installed in homes, but they’re easy to find at motorway service stations and petrol garages.  They’re used when you need to get a quick charge before continuing your journey. This type of charging makes long distance, cross country and even cross continental travel possible in an electric car. The charging unit converts the energy to DC before sending it to the car, meaning the energy can be dumped straight into the battery pack. The car controls the charge rate and you will tend to get your best charge speed from 10-50%. (Once you’re above 50% charge the speed of charge will slow down a fair bit. Charging in a rush? For the fastest possible charge, run your battery down to 20%, charge it back up to 50% and then repeat, finding another charger on your route.

Electric car batteries

EV battery

An electric car battery works by storing energy in a chemical form, which can then be converted into electrical energy to power the car's motor. The battery is made up of lots of small cells, each containing a positive electrode (cathode), a negative electrode (anode), and an electrolyte that allows ions to flow between the electrodes.

When the battery is charged, an external power source (like a charging station) sends electrical energy into the battery, causing a chemical reaction that stores energy in the form of charged ions within the battery. When the car is in use, the ions flow from the negative to the positive electrode through an external circuit, generating an electrical current that powers the motor.

As the battery discharges, the ions move through the electrolyte to the positive electrode, releasing their stored energy to power the car. When the battery is fully discharged, it needs to be recharged to store more energy and continue powering the car.


A single cell of a battery or battery pack, is an individual energy storage device. A mobile phone has a single cell which is why it degrades quickly over time because you’re charging up one single cell over and over again. In an electric car, the energy is spread over thousands of cells, and the car uses software to use up the energy more efficiently and keep the battery working in the most efficient way.



CO2 stands for carbon dioxide, which is a gas that is naturally present in the Earth's atmosphere. It is made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms, and is produced by many natural processes, like plant respiration and the decay of organic matter.

However, CO2 is also released into the atmosphere by human activities, like burning fossil fuels for energy or transportation. This can cause an increase in the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, which can lead to global warming and climate change.

CO2 is sometimes called a greenhouse gas, because it traps heat from the sun in the Earth's atmosphere, which can cause the planet to become warmer. To reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, it's important to find ways to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and promote the use of clean, renewable energy sources.

Other emissions / particulate matter

Exhaust pipes aren’t the only thing in a car that causes air pollution. Tyres and brakes emit tiny pieces of particulate matter that break off during driving and braking. These can actually cause up to 2,000 times more pollution than exhaust fumes and are linked to poor health. EVs use regenerative braking so there is less wear on the tyres. This means that they emit less particulate matter than traditional fuel-powered cars.

Now you’re up to date with all the EV lingo, it might be the right time to consider getting on for yourself! Check out our ultimate EV package, the personal lease with a difference. We offer car, charger, energy, maintenance, servicing and repairs as part of our package.