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Glossary for Electric Vehicles

AC Alternating Current (AC) is a type of electrical current, in which the direction of the flow of electrons switches back and forth at regular intervals or cycles. Electric car motors are either AC or DC (see below), with most of the new breed being of AC type

Battery- The battery provides electricity to start the engine and power vehicle electronics/accessories.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) - pure electric vehicleonly-electric vehicle or all-electric vehicle is a type of electric vehicle (EV) that uses chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs. BEVs use electric motors and motor controllers instead of internal combustion engines (ICEs) for propulsion. They derive all power from battery packs and thus have no internal combustion engine, fuel cell, or fuel tank. BEVs include - but are not limited to motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, rail cars, watercraft, forklifts, buses, trucks, and cars.


Battery (all-electric auxiliary) - In an electric drive vehicle, the auxiliary battery provides electricity to power vehicle accessories.


Battery (auxiliary) - In an electric drive vehicle, the auxiliary battery provides electricity to start the car before the traction battery is engaged and also powers vehicle accessories.


Battery pack - This battery stores energy generated from regenerative braking and provides supplemental power to the electric traction motor.


Charging - Refueling an electric car's battery with electricity, not gas. The time a battery takes to charge depends on the size of the battery in kWh and the amount of electric current being supplied. Electric cars can take different levels of charge, meaning they can be fast or rapid charged.

Charge port - The charge port allows the vehicle to connect to an external power supply in order to charge the traction battery pack.


Charging Stations - An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV (Electric Vehicle) charging station, electric recharging point, charging point and EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), which supplies electric energy for the recharging of plug-in electric vehicles, EVs and PHEVs. 

DC - Direct Current - an electric current of constant direction. Electric car motors are either DC or AC, with DC motors generally being less expensive to buy and simpler to use on an electric car.

DC/DC converter - This device converts higher-voltage DC power from the traction battery pack to the lower-voltage DC power needed to run vehicle accessories and recharge the auxiliary battery.


Electric generator - Generates electricity from the rotating wheels while braking, transferring that energy back to the traction battery pack. Some vehicles use motor generators that perform both the drive and regeneration functions.


Electric Grid - An interconnected system that maintains an instantaneous balance between supply and demand (generation and load) while moving electricity from generation source to customer.


Electricity - Electric current used as a power source. Electricity can be produced from a variety of feedstocks, including oil, coal, nuclear, hydro, natural gas, wind, and solar.

Electric traction motor - Using power from the traction battery pack, this motor drives the vehicle's wheels. Some vehicles use motor generators that perform both the drive and regeneration functions.


Electric traction motor (FCEV) - Using power from the fuel cell and the traction battery pack, this motor drives the vehicle's wheels. Some vehicles use motor generators that perform both the drive and regeneration functions.


Electrolysis - Electrolysis is a method by which an electric current splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. If the electricity used is from renewable sources, such as solar or wind, the resulting hydrogen will be considered renewable as well.

EV - Is an Electric Vehicle that operates on 100% electicity like the Nissan Leaf. They offer limited ranges and most are around 100 miles as of 2014; however, ranges are expected to increase in the coming years. Also, charging stations will become more popular so range-anxiety will decrease. 

EVSE - Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment to connect electric vehicles for charging.

Fuel cell stack - An assembly of individual membrane electrodes that use hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity.


Fuel tank (hydrogen) - Stores hydrogen gas on board the vehicle until it's needed by the fuel cell.


Hybrid (HEV)- A car that integrates a small battery and an electric motor to enhance the efficiency of the engine. The Toyota Prius is by far the most successful hybrid vehicle. The battery’s charge is maintained by the ICE engine - it cannot be charged by plugging into an electrical supply. Hybrids can offer greater fuel economy than a traditional ICE but can only travel very short distances on electric power only.

Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) - an engine powered through the burning of fossil fuels in a chamber in the presence of air. The term 'ICE' is often used as shorthand for any vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine, whether petrol or diesel.

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 petrol tank.

Miles per Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent - Miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (mpge) represents the number of miles a vehicle can travel using a quantity of fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline (33 kilowatt-hours).


Onboard charger - Takes the incoming AC electricity supplied via the charge port and converts it to DC power for charging the traction battery. It monitors battery characteristics such as voltage, current, temperature, and state of charge while charging the pack.


Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) - a type of car that is configured like a regular hybrid, but with a bigger lithium ion battery pack that can be charged up by plugging in to a regular electricity supply. Pure electric driving is increased over a standard hybrid. PHEVs, as they are known, offer the chance to make short journeys on cheap, zero tailpipe emission electricity but also enable long journeys.

Power electronics controller - This unit manages the flow of electrical energy delivered by the traction battery (and/or fuel cell), controlling the speed of the electric traction motor and the torque it produces.

Range (Electric Vehicle)  - The distance you can travel on pure electric power before the battery requires a recharge. The Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and Ford Focus are examples of pure electric vehicles. It is also definted as the combined range from electric and gas of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles like the Chevy Volt. 

Range-Anxiety Range Anxiety refers to the concept of operating an electric vehicle and running out of battery while driving.

Regenerative Braking - This is a system in which the electric motor that normally drives a hybrid or pure electric vehicle is essentially operated in reverse (electrically) during braking or coasting. Instead of consuming energy to propel a vehicle, the motor acts as a generator that charges the onboard batteries with electrical energy that would normally be lost as heat through traditional mechanical friction brakes. As the motor “acts in reverse,” it generates electricity. The accompanying friction (electrical resistance) assists the normal brake pads in overcoming inertia and helps slow the vehicle.

RPM  - Revolutions Per Minute - the number of times the shaft of an electric motor turns through 360 degrees in one minute.

Torque - Torque is the tendency of an object to rotate about its axis or plane. A torque can also be a type of twisting force. Torque can also mean that pressure applied to something in a rotational force. In an electric vehicle, the torque is 100% from a complete stop. Electric motors give electric cars instant torque, creating strong and smooth acceleration.

Traction battery pack - Stores electricity for use by the electric traction motor.


Transmission (electric) - The transmission transfers mechanical power from the electric traction motor to drive the wheels.  

V2G/strong - VVehicle-to-Grid (V2G) is a technology that makes clean and efficient electric-powered transportation possible by allowing electric vehicles to power and be powered by the grid. With an electric vehicle, you are driving an electrical storage system: since the average US car is driven one hour per day, it can be made available to the grid.