EV Jargon Buster

Before we go full tilt and introduce the Our Man Behind The Wheel website to its brand new EV tab we should, perhaps, embark upon a journey of Jargon Busting.

Motor car manufacturers had, with the introduction of electric cars a whole new chance to ingratiate themselves with the car buying public but NO, they set themselves on a path of alienating themselves behind a plethora of Jargon using words and acronyms to the point that, Joe Public has no idea what they are talking about.

So, what is an EV or a Hybrid car and what’s the difference?  How do you navigate your way round the minefield of Full Hybrid and Mild Hybrid and what, for goodness sake, is a PHEV?

Here we set out to drive and explain.  Read this and then you will be well placed to throw your weight around in a car showroom when negotiating your next ethically-correct vehicle purchase.

BMW i8 Roadster EV
BMW i8 Recharging

Basically, EV stands for Electric Vehicle and as such embraces cars, scooters, bicycles golf buggies and even milk floats!  Electric trains are in truth EVs but are seldom referred to as such.  As electronic power develops, there are even signs that the term will, in the fullness of time, embrace aircraft boats and even ships.

Zero emissions vehicle in other words an electric vehicle!  The Tesla, the Jaguar I-Pace and the Nissan Leaf are currently perhaps the best-known examples of this type of car.

Battery Electric Vehicle.  An electric vehicle which is powered only by batteries. The acronym is interchangeable with ZEV.

It stands of internal combustion engine system, meaning an engine that burns fuel, such as petrol, diesel, or biofuels to get its power.  The word is sometimes used by the EV fraternity in a derogatory fashion.

Nissan LEAF EV
Nissan LEAF – Photo credit: Nissan

Rather a silly way of describing Non-Internal Combustion Engine or in other words an EV.  Put another way, it is an engine not powered using petrol diesel or biofuel.  All electric vehicles are NICE in more ways than one!

A hybrid electric vehicle is a type of hybrid vehicle that combines a conventional internal combustion engine system with an electric propulsion system.  The presence of the electric powertrain is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle or better performance.  The Toyota Prius is one of the best-known vehicles in this class.

A full Hybrid Vehicle in exactly the same way as is described above.  Simply put these cars make more efficient use of fuel by switching to electric mode at low speeds or stop start traffic.

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a hybrid electric vehicle whose battery can be recharged by plugging it into an external source of electric power, as well by its on-board engine and generator.

Personal EV
Personal Electric Vehicle

A Full Hybrid Electric Vehicle, in order to make a distinction with the other types of hybrid electric vehicles such as a mild and plug-in.

A Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle is not able to be driven as a pure electric vehicle because it is a conventionally combustion powered vehicle that is assisted by an electric motor and offers no ability to connect the battery to a power source.

The main difference between MHEV and full hybrid HEV vehicles is that at low speeds, or when stationary, the internal combustion engine can switch itself off and the 48V starter-generator seamlessly restarts it when needed.  The separate 48V Li-Ion battery is automatically recharged by regenerative braking during coasting and braking.  There is no requirement to connect the battery to a power source.  Jaguar Range Rover already produce a PHEV and the new Range Rover Evoque is an MHEV, but a full plugin hybrid variant is coming later in 2019.

Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle.  Electric passenger vehicles that are limited to a speed of 25 miles per hour and can be driven only in designated areas.

Range Rover Evoque EV
Range Rover Evoque – Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover

Low Speed Vehicle.  An alternative name for a NEV.

A Personal Electric Vehicle used to transport just one passenger.  Electric bicycles the type made by GoCycle for example, could be termed PEVs but in some countries round the world, small, one person cars exist.

Fuel Cell Vehicle.  An electrically powered vehicle that uses fuel cells instead of batteries. In fuel cells, energy is stored in liquid form, the likes of hydrogen, and is constantly renewing.

Golf Cart.

Tesla Model S EV
Tesla Model S – Photo credit: Tesla Motors

Technology Words

So, if in the above we have described the vehicle defining jargon, what about the rest?  In this list I have tried to limit my scope by only discussing Jargon most often used by those discussing EVs.

Alternating Current.  Electricity where current flows in both directions alternating between positive and negative.  If that sounds complicated think of it the stuff that comes out of the 13 amp plug in the wall.

Direct Current.  The other type of electrical current.  This is the opposite to AC because in the case of DC current flows in only one direction.  If that sounds complicated think of it the stuff that comes out of the triple A battery in your torch.

Meaning to convert an ICE car into a NICE one!  In other words, making a petrol driven car into an EV.  The de-ICEing of the Jaguar E-Type from the 1960’s has proved to be popular and has won recognition by being driven by the British Royal family.

Classic Jaguar E-type Zero Power Plant EV
Classic Jaguar E-type Zero Power Plant – Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover

State of Charge is the equivalent of a fuel gauge for the battery pack in an EV.  Generally, the units used to indicate the measure of charge are percentage points with 0% equating to empty and 100% meaning fully charged.

Depth of Discharge.  An alternate and almost opposite form of saying the same thing as SOC but in this case the depth of discharge is the inverse of SOC where 100% equals empty and 0% equals full.

SOC is normally used when discussing the current state of a battery in use, while DOD is most often seen when discussing the lifetime of the battery after repeated use.

Sometimes also called Ground it indicates the process by which electricity supplies are made safe.  Electrical circuits literally placed into the earth or ground, so that people do not get electric shocks when you touch an EV for example.  Remember that in a three-pin 13-amp plug, one of the big, thicker pin at the top connects to the earth or ground wire.

Jaguar I-PACE Charging
Jaguar I-PACE Charging – Photo credit: Jaguar Land Rover

Whenever the cars brakes are engaged, energy from that is recovered and passed back into the battery so extending the vehicles driving range.  Not all EVs have this facility.

A measure of mechanical energy used to describe the amount of power used to propels an EV forward.

In their simplest form fuel cells are regarded as silent generators.  They generate power by producing electrons without moving parts.  Efficient and reliable they produce no exhaust gases other than water vapour.  This makes them ideal for EV use however to date very few vehicles use them instead of batteries.

A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery sometimes also abbreviated as LIB is a type of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.  Low self-discharging LIBs are growing in popularity for EV applications.

Author Bios:

When it comes to tech, travel journalists Frances and Michael Howorth are early adopters and that attitude has flowed down into their motoring. They own and drive Zero Emission saloons and even have electric bikes.

1 Comment

  1. Great article, but a small detail. Most PHEVs have very limited charging ability on thread, since the engine cannot charge the battery and only regenerative braking goes back to the battery.

    On a lighter note, don’t flat tow a hybrid, as that will charge the battery, even if it’s fully charged BOOM!

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