Electric Vehicle being charged with a lush tree in the background

Electric Car 101: EV Glossary and Terminology

By the Mercury Team

Electric vehicles are becoming more ubiquitous, but some of the electric vehicle terminology and technology can be overwhelming. Whether you’re a current or future EV owner, this glossary serves as a quick reference to help you better understand electric car terminology.

The Glossary

Insurance policies can be complicated to understand, especially because they use a lot of legal terminology. To make it a little easier, we put together a glossary of terms to help you better understand what your policy says.

Short for ampere, an amp is a unit of electricity used to measure the strength of an electrical current.
Amp-hours (Ah)
An amp-hour (Ah) is the number of amps a battery can deliver in an hour. Amp hours are used to determine the battery’s capacity. For example, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range has a 230 amp-hour reading, meaning it can deliver 230 amps in an hour.
An anode is the side of the battery that releases electrons during discharge.
Alternating Current (AC)
An alternating current (AC) is an electrical current in which the direction of the electrons’ flow alternates back and forth periodically. When it comes to EV charging, Level 1 and Level 2 chargers use AC power.
All-Electric Range (AER)
All-electric range (AER) refers to the driving range of an electric vehicle using only electric power from its battery pack. For example, the Tesla Model S offers an AER of 405 miles, making it perfect for road trips.
Battery Composition
Generally, an EV battery comprises three components: cells, modules, and a pack. Simply put, these three components are units of gathered batteries. A series of battery cells make up a module. Then, one form of battery composed of many modules and various control and protection systems — i.e., the pack — is installed into the electric car. 
  • Battery cell — A lithium-ion battery that exerts electrical energy by charging and discharging.
  • Battery module — A group of battery cells placed into a frame to protect the cells from heat, vibration, and external shocks.
  • Battery pack — The final piece of the battery system composed of several modules and control and protection systems such as a battery management system and cooling system.
Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
A battery electric vehicle (BEV) is a vehicle that’s powered solely by a lithium-ion battery pack without the assistance of another engine.
Battery Management System (BMS)
A battery management system (BMS) manages an electric vehicle’s rechargeable battery by monitoring its status, reporting data, and protecting it from overcharging and other potential issues.
Battery Heating System (BHS)
A battery heating system helps absorb excess heat produced by an EV’s battery to improve the electric vehicle’s efficiency, range, and performance.
A cathode is the side of the battery in which the current leaves the cell.
Charging is the process of delivering electricity to an electric vehicle using EV equipment.
Charging Point
A charging point is a location where electric cars can be plugged in and charged. This location can be at home, work, or a public place.
Charging Station
A charging station is a piece of equipment that provides electricity to an electric vehicle. Can you install an electric car at home? You can charge at home or visit a public charging station.
A connector is a device attached to the charging station that connects to an electric vehicle so it can charge.
CHAdeMO Plug
A CHAdeMO plug is a four-pin, DC standard connector that charges up to 100kW.
A capacitor is a module in an electrical circuit that retains power to help accommodate temporary power losses or regulate power spikes.
Combined Charging System (CCS)
A combined charging system is a type of connector composed of DC charging pins, usually below a type 1 plug, that charges up to 350kW.
Charge Point Operator (CPO)
A charge point operator manages a network of charging points to ensure operations run smoothly — i.e., equipment installation, maintenance, and coordination with site owners
Charge Point Installer (CPI)
A charge point installer sells and manages charging made by various manufacturers.
DC (Direct Current) Fast Charging
DC Fast Charging is the fastest charging method available that’s primarily available at public charging stations. Generally, it takes between 15 to 45 minutes to charge most electric vehicles up to 80%.
Drive Unit
A drive unit is the combination of an electric motor and its reducer, giving the car its horsepower and torque.
Drag Coefficient
Drag coefficient is a measurement of an EV’s wind resistance. The higher the drag coefficient, the harder the motor must work to push the EV through the wind.
Distribution Network Operator (DNO)
A distribution network operator provides electricity from national transmission networks to businesses and homes.
Electric Vehicle (EV)
An electric vehicle is an alternative to a gas-powered car, using a battery instead of a gasoline tank and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. Read our blog to learn more about the pros and cons of electric cars.
EV Battery
An EV battery is the equivalent of a gasoline tank. It’s where the electric car’s power is stored.
eTrunk™ (i.e., frunk)
The eTrunk™ — also known as a frunk — is like a traditional trunk, but instead of it being in the back of the car, it’s located in the front where the engine and transmission would be.
EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment)
EVSE is all the components you need to charge your electric vehicle — e.g., cables, connectors, and charging points.
Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) 
An extended-range electric vehicle is a car that depends predominantly on electric power, but has a combustion engine when a charge dies. This is different from a hybrid because the engine doesn’t drive wheels directly.
Electric Power Control Unit (EPCU)
The electric power control unit comprises the inverter, vehicle control unit, and low voltage converter to regulate the flow of power within the electric vehicle.
Electro-Mobility Service Provider (eMSP)
An electro-mobility service provider offers drivers access to several charging stations in specific areas and gives them billing, location, and availability information.
Factory ZERO
Factory ZERO is General Motors’ first fully dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant, which spans Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan.
Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)
A fuel-cell electric vehicle is a car that depends on hydrogen fuel cells to charge the EV’s battery.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
A hybrid electric vehicle is a car that utilizes both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine to improve efficiency.
Horsepower (hp)
Horsepower is the unit of power used to measure an engine's power.
Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
An internal combustion engine is the standard engine for traditional cars. It requires petroleum fuel to operate.
Incentives are government-backed offers to encourage car shoppers to buy an electric vehicle. These incentives include tax credits, rebates, charging station perks, and local utility discounts, among others.
Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle (ICEV)
An internal combustion engine vehicle is a technical term for a traditional gas-powered car.
An inverter is a device that converts a battery’s direct current into an alternating current.
Kilowatt (kW = 1,000 Watts)
A kilowatt is the measurement of an electric vehicle’s power that’s generated by its batteries.
Kilowatt-Hour (kWh)
A kilowatt-hour is a measurement of an electric vehicle’s energy that determines how much power a battery can supply over a period of time.
Level 1 Charging
Level 1 charging is the baseline EV charging method that’s usually done at home because it utilizes a standard 120-volt electrical outlet. Level 1 charging usually takes about 24 hours to fully charge an empty EV battery.
Level 2 Charging 
Level 2 charging is available at most public charging stations and can be installed in your home. It offers faster charging speeds than Level 1 chargers, usually taking four hours to complete a full charge.
Lithium-Ion Battery
A lithium-ion battery is the standard battery used for most electric vehicles. It offers high energy density and reliable rechargeability.
Low-Voltage DC-DC Converter (LDC)
A low-voltage DC-DC converter is a component that takes DC power from the EV battery, converts it, and sends it to supplementary systems within the vehicle — e.g., the headlights.
Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEV)
A mild hybrid electric vehicle is a car that depends primarily on an internal combustion engine with supplementary support from a small electric motor. These vehicles can’t operate on batteries alone.
Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPGe)
Miles per gallon equivalent is a measurement of how far an electric vehicle can drive with 33.7 kWh — the equivalent of one gallon of gas.
Miles Per Kilowatt-Hour (mpkWh)
Miles per kilowatt-hour is a measurement that tells you how many miles an electric vehicle can travel on 1 kWh of electricity.
Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV)
A neighborhood electric vehicle is a small, low-speed electric vehicle, such as a golf cart.
Ohms (Ω)
An ohm is a unit to measure electrical resistance, which determines how well a material conducts electricity.
On-Board Charger (OBC)
An on-board charger converts alternating current to direct current to charge an electric vehicle’s batteries.
Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI)
The Open Charge Point Interface is a protocol to facilitate roaming services for electric vehicles and offer transparent information to drivers about charging locations and prices.
Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP)
The Open Charge Point Protocol is an application protocol that allows communication between EV charging stations and their operators.
Open Smart Charging Protocol (OSCP)
The Open Smart Charging Protocol communicates between charge points and energy management systems, allowing charging point operators and utility managers to predict the local grid capacity.
Open Charge Alliance (OPA)
The Open Charge Alliance oversees both OCPP and OSCP standards.
Off-Peak Charging
Off-peak charging is when electrical rates for charging an EV are at their lowest, usually at night.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a hybrid vehicle that offers a bigger battery pack than a traditional hybrid, allowing drivers to travel moderate distances on solely electric power.
Range is how far an electric vehicle can travel on a single charge.
Range Anxiety
Range anxiety describes a feeling a driver may have when there might not be enough power in an electric vehicle to complete a trip.
Range Extender (REx)
A range extender is a secondary on-board generator, typically a small internal combustion engine, that charges an EV’s battery when it runs out.
Range Per Hour (RPH)
Range per hour is an estimate of the maximum number of miles a charging station can deliver per hour.
Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is energy derived from sources that naturally replenish, such as solar and wind power.
Regenerative Braking
Regenerative braking is a method used in most EVs that provides additional charge for the battery via the slowing momentum of the vehicle.
A reducer is the EV equivalent of a standard transmission. It converts the electric motor’s high torque to more rotations per minute.
A resistor is a component in an electrical circuit that limits or regulates current flow.
Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
Revolutions per minute is a measurement of the number of times the crankshaft rotates in a minute.
The SAE-J1772 is the North American standard for electrical connectors for EVs. It has five pins and delivers single-phase alternating current.
SAE Combo (CCS) 
The CSS plug is one of the plugs used for DC Fast Charging stations. Your EV must be compatible with the CSS plug to use it.
Single-Phase Charging
Single-phase charging involves a connector that has one cable for power draw.
Site Owner
A site owner is the entity that owns the property where the charging point is located.
Solid-State Battery
A solid-state battery is a type of battery that provides a higher energy density than a lithium-ion battery. It uses a solid electrolyte and solid electrodes instead of a liquid electrolyte.
A supercapacitor offers a higher capacity than a standard capacitor. It can charge more quickly and retains more power than a lithium-ion battery.
Tesla Supercharger
The Tesla Supercharger is the company’s proprietary fast charging station that can recharge Tesla vehicles up to 322 miles in 15 minutes.
Three-Phase Charging
Three-phase charging involves a connector that uses three cables to draw power. These connectors are usually seen at DC Fast Charging stations.
Torque is a force that causes an object to rotate around an axis.
A transistor is a small electronic part in an electrical circuit that controls the flow of electricity.
Type 1 Plug
The type 1 plug is a single-phase plug that delivers charging power levels of up to 7.4 kW.
Type 2 Plug
The type 2 plug is a triple-phase plug that charges up to 250 kW.
Ultium is GM’s brand of next-generation battery cells and battery packs.
A volt is a unit used to measure the force of an electrical current.
Vehicle Control Unit (VCU)
A watt is a unit of measurement of electrical power.
Watt-Hours per Kilogram (Wh/kg)
Watts-hours per kilogram is a measurement of an EV battery’s energy density relative to weight. The higher the Wh/kg, the better since it equals more energy in less mass.
Watt-Hours per Liters (Wh/L)
Watts-hours per liter is a measurement of an EV battery’s energy density relative to volume. The higher the Wh/kg, the better since it equals more energy in less volume.
Wireless Battery Management System (wBMS)
A wireless battery management system is a nearly wireless system that provides functions such as battery cell protection, monitoring, and optimization.
Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP)
The WLTP is a test that measures a vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions.
Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV)
A zero-emission vehicle is a car that produces no pollutants from its operation.
If you’re interested in buying an electric vehicle, learning EV terminology can help you make a more informed decision. While getting familiar with electric vehicle parts and terms is helpful, it’s also important to insure your electric car with reliable auto insurance. Mercury provides best-in-class coverage at an affordable rate.

Contact us today for a fast, free quote!

Mercury Team

The Mercury Marketing Team is made up of professionals in the fields of Content Creation, Public Relations and Social Media. The team works together to deliver professionally written and researched content to provide information for consumers.

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