EV jargon buster

posted on 07/12/2023
  • Overview
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • O
  • P
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X
  • Z

Need to untangle your RFID from your RPH?

Below you can find a list of common EV-related terms and their meanings which are easy to understand.


Alternating Current.

All power produced from the National Grid is AC by default, and must be converted to Direct Current (DC) by the vehicle’s onboard charger in order to be stored in an electric vehicle’s (EV) battery.

AC charging is a charging solution that is generally more suited to home installations, due to being more compact and cost effective than DC charging units to install and operate.

This stands for Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road – international regulations covering goods that are highly dangerous, such as explosives, flammables and fuming acids, to everyday products such as paints, solvents and pesticides. Specific regulations, licensing, authorisation, training and processes apply for these kinds of loads.

Articulated lorry.

A heavy goods vehicle (HGV) which is a combination of a tractor unit plus trailer.

A vehicle which runs on something other than petrol or diesel.

Amperes, often abbreviated as amps, are a unit of measurement for electrical current. Regarding electric vehicle batteries, the amp rating is the amount of current that can be delivered to a vehicle's battery.

Ampere Hours (often abbreviated to Ah) are used to refer to the amount of current a battery can supply in a single hour. However, Ah is no longer commonly used, as manufacturers more frequently use kWh to measure battery capacity, now.

Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System.

This is a mandatory accessory for electric vehicles which generates sound in order to make those quieter-running EVs easier to hear by vulnerable road users.


An efficient way to maximise utilization, by booking a job to fill an empty commercial vehicle on the way back to a base/depot from another job.

One of the most important components in all electric vehicles. In the current EV landscape, only rechargeable batteries are used. These are also known as storage batteries.

Battery Electric Vehicle.

Electric vehicles powered solely by battery. These are different from hybrid vehicles which use another energy source in addition to the battery, usually petrol.

A technology where energy can flow in two directions. This allows a vehicle to serve as a buffer that can help compensate for fluctuations in the grid, so a house can draw power from the vehicle when energy prices are high, then recharge the battery when prices are low.


This is the tax due on a ‘perk’ like a company car. BIK rates are lower for lesser-polluting vehicles like EVs.

Battery Management System.

The interface between an electric vehicle and its battery. The BMS safeguards the battery’s monitoring, control and protection.

A vehicle’s towing capacity is split into two figures: ‘Braked weight’ is the maximum weight it can tow if the trailer being towed has its own independent brakes. ‘Unbraked weight’ is the maximum weight it can tow if the trailer being towed doesn’t have it’s own brakes.

A truck with a cabin plus a separate (enclosed) cargo area.

The partition that sits between the cabin and rear interior of a van, usually metal with a grille or window fitted.


For EVs, the total amount of energy in kWhs that a battery can store when fully charged. This is the equivalent to the fuel tank capacity in a petrol or diesel vehicle.

Clean Air Zone

An area where action is being taken to discourage polluting vehicles from entering – for example, through charges or outright bans.

Charging Column.

Another term for a charging station. More likely to be used by businesses that need to charge multiple vehicles at once.

Combined Charge System.

Combines the Type 2 plug – the European standard for charging with alternating current (AC) with additional connectors for direct current (DC) charging. CCS provides up to 360 kW charging power.

This is one of the most common charge connector types for DC fast charging (along with CHAdeMO).

The ‘plug’ you use to connect your vehicle to an electric charge point.

CHArge de Move (move using charge).

Another charging standard, most notably found on Nissan Leaf EVs. While it was in competition with Type 2, it is now falling out of favour.

What you start with before a converter fits the required body to a commercial vehicle (e.g. drop-sides, refrigerated units or Luton boxes).

A system that ensures that electric vehicles can be used seamlessly in the powergrid, even if several need to be charged simultaneously. This is an important consideration for large fleets of commercial vehicles.

The speed at which an EV can charge. This can vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle, with some able to accept higher levels of power, or hold a high level of power for a longer period of time.

The name given to a facility that is designed for charging electric vehicles. Only one electric vehicle can be charged at a time.

Charging station operator.

The CSO will have selected and installed a suitable charging network infrastructure. By operating this charging station, they assume all responsibilities involved in its management and operation and are liable for ensuring that it is regularly maintained, safe and compliant with current regulations.

The charging infrastructure of a region or country.

Protects a connection from overloading due to excessive current flow. The connection must correspond to the charging power of the electric vehicle. Most manufacturers recommend circuit breakers with class C trip characteristics.

The most commonly used charging technology, making use of a cable and plug. It is also known as charging by conduction and charging by contact.

A 4-7-seat van incorporating a second row of seats to the rear, meaning that it can be used to transport both people and goods.


Direct Current.

The electricity stored in EV batteries is DC. Some newer rapid charging points are now DC.

Direct current charging is more expensive than AC charging, but typically much faster.

Distribution Network Operator.

An organisation licensed to manage grids at regional and local levels. Sometimes, when applying for a wallbox at home, a driver will need to make an application to the DNO (some charge point installation companies will do this for you). This is usually included in the price of installation.

How power is moved from the motor to the wheels. This could be via an automatic, manual or simple EV gearbox.

A van that is designed for easy access, with an open top and side which can drop down for direct access to the loading area.

Direct Vision Standard.

A star rating system, reflecting how much an HGV driver can see through their cab windows (in particular, in relation to nearby pedestrians and cyclists). Vehicles with a low DVS may have to fit additional ‘Safe Systems’ in order to be allowed to drive in some areas, including Greater London.


A fleet of electric vehicles, including LCVs and HGVs.

The term commonly used to include all forms of movement that uses electric motors, including cars, vans, scooters, trains and bicycles.

eMobility Provider or eMobility Service Provider.

An EMP/ESP provides access to charging stations run by different Charge Point Operators (CPO).

The amount of energy that can be stored per unit volume or mass in a battery. It plays a pivotal role in range achieved by electric vehicles.

Extended-range electric vehicle.

This is an EV with a small petrol or diesel motor to help charge the battery.

The compatibility and quality standards that enable uniform identification and billing at public charging stations.

Electrically excited Synchronous Machine.

This refers to an electric motor which uses electromagnets to generate a magnetic field.

Wooden pallets used for storage and transporting of goods. These are always 1,200mm x 800mm and so are used by some manufacturers to describe the loadable space in a commercial vehicle.

Electric Vehicle.

The globally accepted acronym.

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment.

The international term for electric charging stations.

Cars with a list price above £40,000 pay a VED surcharge (the ‘expensive car supplement’), currently set at £355, for the first five years following the first year of registration. 

EVs are currently exempt from this surcharge, but those registered on or after 1 April 2025 will be subject to it. 


A mid-power charger that can charge up to 22kw. A standard home charger wall box would be considered a fast charger.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.

An electric vehicle that uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen into water with the help of atmospheric oxygen. Apart from water, FCEVs do not produce any exhaust gases.

Trucks with a flat, open cargo area, often used for transporting oversized or irregularly shaped items. Popular in the construction industry where loads may not need protection from the elements.

Connects a building to the public energy grid.


The integration of electromobility into the electric grid.

Gross Vehicle Weight.

Otherwise known as Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM), this is the maximum weight of a vehicle or trailer (including load) that is allowed to be carried while on the road. This will be listed in the vehicle manual and on a plate/sticker on the vehicle. Vehicles with higher GTWs may require a driver to have a specific category of driving license to legally operate.


The height categories of commercial vehicles, usually in relation to roof height. A higher number = a taller vehicle. These vary between manufacturers. Often used in combination with L1/L2/L3.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle.

A hybrid, or HEV, combines an electric with a conventional drivetrain system. A hybrid automatically uses the optimal drive depending on speed, often using electric drive alone up to around 31mph.

How much energy costs to use. A low tariff is generally more cost effective and applicable to overnight charging. That is why many people refer to it as night-time electricity.

This is a domestic charge point at the drivers’ home.

High Power Charging.

HPC delivers up to 350 kW charging power and is ideal for fast charging stops. Cooled charging connectors and plugs are required to attain the highest level of power for HPC.


In-Cable Control Box.

Electric vehicles are often charged at sockets that are not explicitly designed for that purpose, such as household sockets. In such cases, the In-Cable Control Box serves as an integrated control device to allow electric vehicles to be charged using Type 2 charging plugs.

Internal Combustion Engine.

Used to describe any vehicle that uses combustion in order to generate power, such as petrol and diesel vehicles.

A well-known process that has been used successfully for many years in a number of household products and is now being utilised in electric vehicles.

The battery is charged using an alternating magnetic field. One coil of the magnetic field is installed in the ground. Another coil is installed directly in the underbody of the vehicle. As soon as the vehicle drives into its parking space, the charging process starts automatically with no requirement for cables.

The IP Code, or Ingress Protection Code indicates the degree of protection of electrical equipment against the ingress of dust and water.

A fully compliant and safe EV charger installation requires an electric meter that has an isolation switch. This should be assessed by the charge point installation company during the survey before installing a home charge point.

This international standard is intended to improve the user experience of charging infrastructures and make charging more convenient and intelligent.


The weight of a vehicle without passengers or loads (but with a full tank of fuel/battery). Sometimes also called ‘Unladen Weight’.

Electrical energy is measured in Watts (W). One kilowatt (kW) equals 1,000 watts.

Kilowatt hour.

A unit of electricity. Think of it like you would litres for petrol or diesel. It can be used both when talking about battery capacity and when talking about charging costs, and is the most common unit for both of these (although other units, such as Amperes, do exist).

A kilowatt-hour is used to measure the capacity of a battery as it refers to how much energy one can store. Typically, the bigger the battery, the longer the range of an EV.

For most EVs, the efficiency of the vehicle is displayed in miles-per-kilowatt-hour (or mi/kWh) - exactly like miles-per-gallon in combustion-engine cars. The mi/KWh indicates how many miles an electric car can cover using a single kWh of energy. 


The length categories of commercial vehicles, usually in relation to wheelbase. A higher number = a longer vehicle. These vary between manufacturers. Often used in combination with H1/H2/H3.

Light Commercial Vehicle.

In the UK, this is any commercial vehicle with a MAM below 3.5 tonnes.

Large Goods Vehicle/Heavy Goods Vehicle.

In the UK, this is any commercial vehicle with a MAM above 3.5 tonnes.

Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure.

The LEVI pilot makes funding available to local authorities in England, to support the roll out and commercialisation of local charging infrastructure.

A battery that uses lithium as the metallic electrode. Developments are still currently in the experimental phase. Researchers believe that theoretically these batteries could provide a comparable energy capacity to a petrol tank of an internal combustion engine vehicle.

The most common form of battery currently found in EVs. Lithium-ion batteries have the highest energy density compared to other rechargeable batteries and are therefore preferred in terms of power. They store almost twice as much energy as NiMH batteries of the same size.

A system that guarantees enough charging power is made available for the connected charging stations for electric vehicles in the local electrical power grid.

The highest level of demand a device or energy grid can deal with. Also known as peak demand, this is the time where energy prices will be at their highest.

The amount of space available for goods.

A van with a body that extends over the cab, maximising storage compared to box vans.


Machine to Machine.

M2M indicates a fully automated exchange of information between devices – such as charging stations and electric vehicles. M2M is used when charging an electric vehicle at an ‘unmanned’ charging station.

Maximum Authorised Mass.

Sometimes called Gross Vehicle Weight, the maximum weight of a vehicle or trailer (including load) that is allowed to be carried when being used on the road. This will be listed in the vehicle manual and on a plate/sticker on the vehicle. Vehicles with higher MAMs may require a driver to have a specific category of driving license to legally operate.

The highest rate at which a vehicle can take on electricity. The higher the number, the faster the possible charge.

Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle.

A hybrid electric vehicle that cannot be driven solely with electric power, but it can save fuel with electric assistance. The basic technical premise is that the electric motor is switched on in driving situations where fuel consumption is particularly high, supporting the engine when starting or accelerating. MHEVs cannot be charged by being plugged in. Instead, they use regenerative brakes to charge.

Mobile Metering System.

A means of energy measurement for the charging process of electric vehicles using a mobile electricity meter. The mobile meter is either integrated into the vehicle or into the charging cable.

Miles per kilowatt-hour.

How far you can expect to travel on 1 kWh. It’s essentially the equivalent of miles per gallon (mpg) but for EVs.

Mobility Service Provider.

An MSP or electromobility service provider (ESP), offers end customers charging services, such as access to charging stations via charging cards or apps.


Open Clearing House Protocol.

Like a common language for players in the eMobility-charging infrastructure community, OCHP allows different charging stations and EVs across borders to easily communicate with each other, which ensures seamless charging experiences for users.

On-Street Residential Charge Point Scheme.

This UK Government scheme provides grant funding for local authorities to install residential chargepoints.


The weight (of both passengers and load) that a commercial vehicle is legally allowed to carry. Calculated by subtracting the kerb weight from the MAM.

Limiting the rate at which EVs are charged during periods of high demand. To avoid overloading electricity grids, energy companies encourage businesses to charge at lower rates by adjusting pricing accordingly.

Businesses often take advantage of this by using management software systems to determine optimum charging times. This is sometimes referred as load shifting.

Whilst peak shaving typically only applies to businesses (large power users), utility companies may offer different tariffs depending on the time of day and grid usage. For example, household consumers can often benefit from cheaper off-peak prices at night, when energy demand is lower.

Permanently Excited synchronous Motor.

A common type of motor found in electric vehicles. It uses permanent magnets, not electromagnets as in an ESM.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle.

PHEVs have both an electric motor and a combustion engine. Unlike other hybrid vehicles, the battery in the PHEV can be recharged by plugging a charging cable into an external electric power socket, but not all charging points will work.

Power Line Communication.

Also known as High Level Communication. The charging cable not only enables the power supply to the vehicle’s battery, but also transmits data so that the electric vehicle and charging station can communicate with each other.

Point of Interest.

More and more retailers are registering their charging facilities as points of interest. This service then appears in the navigation system under POIs, so that users can charge their vehicle while they go shopping.


A form of solar that converts sunlight into electrical energy (direct current). Charging an electric vehicle with company-owned solar power from a PV is very cost effective for companies. Charging with PV electricity generated on site is also completely emission-free.


These are shelf/storage units fitted inside a van (e.g. for storing tools).

Range Extended Electric Vehicles (REEV) use a fuel-based auxiliary power unit with a generator that only comes into play when the battery power runs out. The engine simply provides additional power to the battery, making it possible to extend the range of an electric vehicle.

These are higher-powered than Fast chargers, with an onboard AC to DC converter. This means your vehicle does not have to convert it itself. These are usually found at motorway services and can charge between 25kW - 100kW.

Real Driving Emissions.

This is used to test on-the-road emissions in realistic driving conditions.

The storage battery, or more commonly, the rechargeable battery, is the heart and key component of an electric vehicle. The performance of the battery determines both the range and the cost of the vehicle.

Sometimes called ‘reefers’, these vans contain refrigeration units for transporting temperature-sensitive loads such as food or medicines.

The energy recovery process during braking. The electric motor acts as a generator and produces energy, taking the kinetic energy from an EV's momentum and converting this into electricity when you need to slow down, increasing the driving range.

Range-extended EV.

Please refer to eREV.

Radio frequency identification.

Uses electromagnetic waves/fields to identify a tracked object. This data can be used for convenient contactless payment at charging stations where the charge point provider has a membership or loyalty scheme in place. It can also automate invoicing.

A vehicle where the tractor and trailer are part of a single rigid structure (in contrast to an articulated vehicle).

Roaming Network Operator.

Controls a platform for the exchange of charging data between charge point operators (CPO) and electromobility providers (EMP).

Range Per Hour.

This means how many miles you can expect to get from 1hr of charging.


A charging point in an area that’s only open at certain times of the day.

These typically use AC and charge at a low kW, for example a standard household plug.

A local electricity grid in which generators, storage facilities and consumers are connected with each other and can control each other. Electric vehicles can be used as mobile electricity storage units in a smart grid and help to compensate for consumption fluctuations.

A home with a wide variety of devices that can communicate with each other. They can be easily operated via app or voice command. Electric vehicles can also be integrated into a smart home.

An intelligent electricity meter that measures the consumption of private electricity and communicates continuously with the meter point operator. In this way, electric vehicle users can regularly see detailed information about their energy consumption on their provider’s website or app.

State Of Charge.

The SOC, or charge status of a battery indicates the amount of energy it has stored as a percentage of its capacity.

A storage system made from used electric vehicle batteries. Discarded batteries still have sufficient capacity after their normal (originally intended) use to function as stationary storage for another ten years.

A charging system integrated into street lights with a charging power of 3.4 kW.


A device fitted to a commercial vehicle to track speed, time and distance travelled to ensure drivers and employers follow the rules on drivers’ hours. Mandatory for vehicles/drivers who are driving under EU or AETR rules.

A hydraulic platform on the rear of a van allowing goods/passengers to be lifted from the floor to the vehicle bed.

Total Cost of Ownership.

Also known as Whole Life Cost (WLC), this is one of the most important parameters in the operation of a vehicle fleet. It looks at the overall costs of a vehicle, not just the initial price, but also all ongoing expenses such as fuel or electricity consumption, maintenance and service, any necessary installation of charging infrastructure, vehicle tax and insurance as well as any applicable tax relief or allowances.

A TCO/WLC analysis helps weigh up the use of different types of vehicle in the fleet from an economic point of view. For example, when EVs are discussed, the question of how high (or low) the total costs are compared to petrol or diesel vehicles usually comes up immediately. 

The standard plug type used in the UK. Unlike other plug standards, this uses a third, longer pin as a safety device, so a socket is sealed until a plug is inserted.

The necessary force to get a car moving. This is quicker to hit the maximum in an EV versus a traditional ICE vehicle.

Charging a battery at the same rate as its discharge rate, ensuring it remains at the same state of charge. This is often used to defrost a vehicle or cool the interior with air conditioning before a journey.

A five-pin connector with a clip for attaching to an EV.

A seven-pin connector which provides three-phase power.


Ultra-low Emission Vehicle.

This is a vehicle with CO2 emissions below 75g/km.

Ultra-low Emission Zone.

This is the area around London, currently inside the North Circular Road and South Circular Road, in which cars which do not meet a Euro Emissions Standard (Euro 4 for petrol Euro 6 for diesel) must pay a daily charge to drive.

Even faster than a Rapid charger, these can charge at < 100kWs.

The standard plug found in UK homes.

The weight of a vehicle when not carrying passengers, goods, fuel or batteries.


Vehicle to Grid.

The term used to describe when the battery of the electric vehicle is integrated into an intelligent power grid as a storage battery. The smart grid compensates for intense power fluctuations from renewable sources. Surplus energy is stored in battery storage units or in batteries of electric vehicles. When there is no wind and little sunlight, energy is transferred back into the grid by retrieving energy from the storage units and feeding it back into the grid.

Vehicle Excise Duty.

Commonly known as ‘Road Tax’. Rates for light commercial vehicles vary by Euro emissions standard, vehicle age and engine size. Electric vans pay a zero/lower-rate vs petrol or diesel vans.

The unit of measurement for electric potential difference. Depending on the model, an EV’s battery has a nominal voltage level of 300 to 1,000 volts. By comparison, the nominal supply voltage to household sockets in much of Europe is 230 V.

The unit of apparent power in an electrical circuit. This includes reactive power in addition to active power. Volt-amperes are usually specified for alternating current (AC) circuits in order to refer to their apparent power.


A mandatory recorded vehicle check, which commercial vehicle drivers must complete pre-trip on any day the vehicle is being used. You can download our handy Alphabet App for help with this!

A wall-mounted charging station for EVs for private households. They deliver between 7 and 22kW of AC charging, depending on power supply. Various options are available, including exclusive discounts for Alphabet customers. Find out more here.

The unit for electrical power. The charging power of an EV is usually measured in thousands of watts (kW).

A motor that is installed directly in the wheels of a vehicle. This type of motor is currently being developed further for electric vehicles. Its task is to transmit the torque generated by the corresponding wheel which it rotates. With wheel hub motors, the need for a gearbox or classic drivetrain is eliminated.

Whole Life Costs.

See TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) above.

Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure.

The current test used to measure a vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions; this procedure replaced the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) in 2018.


The overall term for any type of electric vehicle (EV). The established concepts in the xEV sector include BEV, FCEV, PHEV and REEV.


Zero Emission Vehicle.

A vehicle that doesn’t emit any tailpipe pollutants, such as a BEV or a FCEV.

Related articles and services


Your fleet and the Road to Zero emissions