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Electric Vehicle and Charging Jargon Buster

 As we move towards the UK Government’s ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles in 2030, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming more predominant in our everyday lives.

But with so many acronyms around such as OZEV, PHEV, RFID, ICE, OEM, kWh etc, even before you start to try to understand terms like charging, range anxiety, regenerative braking etc, it’s no wonder that many people worry about stepping into the EV arena in the first place.

So let’s try to simplify things by creating a ‘one stop terminology shop’ for all things EV. The first thing to understand is that there are a variety of different types of vehicle that fall under the EV banner. So let’s start with the vehicle basics first.

Vehicle Types and Basics

ICE (Internal Combustion Engine)
This is not an electric vehicle but is your traditional petrol or diesel powered vehicle. Can also be powered by bio fuels or even natural gas. The sale of new ICE vehicles will be banned in the UK from 2030. Hence, the move towards electric vehicles.

EV (Electric Vehicle)
Terminology often used as a catch all term to cover any electrically powered vehicle (BEV, PHEV etc).

BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)
Also referred to more commonly as an Electric Vehicle (EV). This is a vehicle where the powertrain to drive the wheels is powered solely by the on-board rechargeable battery.

PHEV (Plug In Electric Hybrid)
A vehicle that is a ‘half-way house’ between a BEV and a conventional ICE vehicle. It has a battery to power an electric motor to drive the wheels (with limited range when solely electric) and an internal combustion engine powered by diesel or petrol. The battery can be charged via the engine, through regenerative braking, or via an external mains charging connection.

HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle)
This is powered by a combination of an internal combustion engine with one or more electric motors driven by batteries. The car selects the best power source (petrol / diesel or battery) dependant on your driving conditions. They combine the benefits of high fuel economy and low tail pipe emissions with the power and range of a conventional ICE vehicle. The battery is total self-contained and cannot be charged externally.

Self-Charging Hybrid
A term developed by marketing people to describe a HEV or Hybrid electric vehicle. These have a very small battery and an electric motor, with the battery being charged via the ICE.

MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle)
This is similar to a HEV, but with a smaller battery, which won’t have enough power to drive the EV alone. The battery is solely there to provide assistance to the ICE to perform more economically.

Other EV terms often heard

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
The OEM is a company that manufactures and sells products, or parts of a product to a buyer. In the automotive arena, these OEMs will be companies such as Ford, Tesla, VW, Jaguar Land Rover etc.

Regenerative Braking
This is a system installed on some vehicles to use the wasted energy from the process of slowing down the EV and using it to put charge back into the battery. It effectively uses the electric motor as a generator to draw the power from the kinetic energy through motion of the vehicle to recharge the battery, which then helps to extend the driving range of the vehicle. On many EVs, the rate of regenerative braking is adjustable.

One Pedal Driving
With regenerative braking effectively acting as a partial brake for an EV, drivers can quickly learn that the EV can be driven using one pedal operation. Lifting their foot off of the accelerator initiates the regenerative braking process to slow down the vehicle, where the rate of regeneration can be adjusted on most EVs.

Torque is a key aspect of the performance of an EV, in particular the acceleration characteristics. With a conventional ICE vehicle, as the throttle is applied, the torque is delivered gradually as the engine increases in speed up to a maximum value. However, with an EV, the maximum torque from the electric motor can be delivered immediately when the throttle is pressed. Hence, EVs can have instantaneous acceleration, which provides an exhilarating driving experience.

WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure)
A set of test procedures based on real driving data. It is a test of the overall performance of a vehicle in areas such as emissions and fuel consumption. For EVs, this will mainly apply to determine the potential range of the vehicle which is the value that is often quoted in advertising literature.
Like the vehicles, there are also a multitude of electrical and charger terminology that is worth understanding.

Electrical Terminology

kW (kilowatt)
The unit is typically used to express the output power of engines and the power of electric motors. 1 kW is equal to 1000 watts. For comparison, the average kettle is around 2 kW.

kWh (kilowatt hour)
This a measure, commonly referring to electrical power, of the number of kW that can be sustained for one hour. (Eg. 2 kWh = 2 kilowatts for an hour). EV battery size is normally measured in kWh and most EVs will get between 3 to 4.5 miles of range from a kWh of an EV battery, dependant on the vehicle.

Single Phase Power
Electrical supply commonly found in most homes in the UK and some businesses. This is normally lower power and can identified in an electrical system by the single 100 Amp fuse fitted where the electrical supply enters the premises. This form of power can supply the power for an EV charge point up to 7kW.

Three Phase Power
Electrical supply commonly found on commercial or industrial sites. Has a higher power rating than a single-phase power supply and is normally identified by having three 100 Amp fuses installed where the supply enters the premises. This form of power can supply the power for an EV charge point up to 22kW.

AC (Alternating Current)
This is a flow of electricity that reverses direction at regular intervals. This means that the AC electrical motor on an EV can be used to power the vehicle to drive, as well as being used to put power back into the battery.

DC (Direct Current)
This is a flow of electricity in one direction only. Batteries need a DC input to charge, and this can be drawn from an AC input via an electrical rectifier.

Types of Charger

Slow Charging
Typically rated up to 3kW and can be delivered via a UK 3-pin plug, but can take many many hours to fully charge an EV battery.

Fast Charging
Ideal for top up charging an EV battery, and is usually provided by a charger providing between 7-22 kW of power. Chargers are typically found in car parks, super markets, leisure centres and residential off street parking points. Will take 3-7 hours to fully charge a vehicle.

Rapid Charging
These chargers can be anything from around 50kW upwards, at times reaching up to 350 kW. These can offer super fast EV charging and can recharge an EV battery within an hour, and are often found is service stations where a rapid charge is required. Of note, whilst the charge rate may be fast, the actual charge time duration will also be very dependant on what rate the EV can be charged at. Using a 350 kW charger on an EV that can only be recharged at rates up to 100kW, means the charge rate will only be 100kW.

Charging Duration
The charging duration for an EV will be dependant on a number of factors:

  • The size of the vehicle’s battery.
  • How many miles you do between charges.
  • Your charging behaviour (eg. Topping up the battery often vs charging from low charge to full less often).
  • The power rating of the charger you are using and the power rating that you EV will accept to charge.

Charging Types

Home Charging
Home charging can take place at the home, normally if off street parking is available. Around 60% of homes in the UK can take advantage of this to allow a home charger to be installed. Charging can be achieved from a standard 3-pin plug, but this can take a very long time (many hours or even days) dependant on the size of the battery. More commonly, a EV wall mounted charge point is installed that can charge at a rate of up to 7kW, which will be much faster.

Public Charging
For EV owners without off street parking facilities, public charging points will be utilised. These can range from being dedicated charge points fitted into lampposts in residential areas, through to chargers found in motorway service stations and car parks. Charging at such points will come at a cost.

En-Route Charging
When travelling some distance in an EV, there may be a need to recharge the vehicle en-route. These will normally be via public rapid chargers that can recharge 100+ miles into the battery during the short stops to grab a coffee or use the facilities.

Destination Charging
This is an EV charging point at a location where the EV driver is likely to stop for a number of hours, for example, place of work, hotel, shopping centre, leisure park etc. There will often be a mix of charger types at the facility, such as fast and rapid chargers etc.

Fleet Charging
Where a company operates a fleet of EVs, they will/may require fleet charging facilities. Such companies may be supermarket delivery services, courier delivery services (DHL or Hermes) etc. These will have a series of fast chargers that can charge the vehicles overnight or as required.

Smart Charging
Smart or intelligent charging refers to a system where the EV and the charging device share a data connection to manage the charging load and process. These often provide a data connection (via wifi) to cover such aspects as load balancing, energy monitoring and charge management to determine the best time to charge the EV battery.

Other Commonly Heard EV Charger Terms

Back Office
This is normally a software based central hub that controls a series of chargers within a smart charging network. It would be used to monitor usage, and cover administrative functions such as priorities, costs and charging durations.

V2G (Vehicle to Grid)
This is a process of using the EV battery to provide power, through the charger, back to power the local building (home or business) or to release power back into grid during periods of high demand.

Load Balancing
EV charging load balancing refers to the charging power distribution across multiple vehicles. So for a charging station with multiple chargers, load balancing will ensure that multiple vehicles can be charged at the same time with the available power.

DNO (Distribution Network Operator)
This is the company that owns and operates the powerlines and infrastructure that distributes the electricity around the country. The DNO does not connect directly to a property or businesses because the voltage used in distribution is too high. They will be responsible for upgrading a local electrical supply and distribution if a large EV charging programme is being developed and built in the area.

DoD (Depth of Discharge)
This is the EV battery charge capacity that has been discharged from a fully charged EV battery, expressed as a percentage (0% is fully charged, 100% is empty). Discharging a battery completely will shorten the life of the battery.

Government Grants

OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles)
UK Government Office working across the government to support the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles such as EVs and their supporting charging infrastructure. The Office is now known as the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV).

OZEV (Office for Zero Emission Vehicles)
UK Government Office working across the government to support the early market for zero emission vehicles such as EVs and their supporting charging infrastructure. The Office replaced the OLEV as part of the UK Government’s ‘Net Zero’ ambitions.

EVHS (Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme)
The UK Government’s EVHS option finished as of 31 March 2022 and there are currently no other Government grants available for Home Charger installations.

EV WCS (EV Workplace Charging Scheme)
A grant-based scheme from OZEV to provide support towards the up-front costs of the purchase and installation of EV charge points for eligible businesses for use by their staff. The grant is currently capped at £350 per charge point up to a maximum of £14000 to cover 40 sockets per applicant business.

Plug-In Grant
This provides a UK EV grant to reduce the cost of new eligible EVs. The amount of grant will vary by vehicle type.

  • Cars can get 35% off the purchase price up to a maximum of £2500.
  • Motorcycles and mopeds can get 20% off up to a maximum of £1500.
    Vans can get 35% off up to a maximum of £6000 or £3000 for small vans.

OSRGS (On-Street Residential Grant Scheme)
Local Authorities can apply for OZEV funding towards the costs of increasing their on-street numbers of charge points in residential areas where there isn’t any off-street parking and charging available. Up to 75% of the capital costs of purchasing and installing charge point infrastructure can be covered by the grant, up to a maximum of £7,500 per charge point (exceptionally up to £13,000 per charge point).