If there is one characteristic of the electric vehicle industry that does irritate me, it is the introduction of unnecessary, complicated and often confusing terminology. Honestly, the world of ‘electric transportation’ would be a far better place, if one did not have to navigate the superfluous jargon. If you are like me, you would run a mile from a PhD in engineering, and simply want to enjoy the experience of owning and driving an electric car, which is great fun and cost efficient!
(1). AFVs (Alternatively- Fuelled Vehicles)
An alternatively-fuelled vehicle, is any vehicle powered by an alternative fuel to traditional petrol or diesel internal combustion engines. AFVs use a multitude of fuel sources from batteries to hydrogen, but also include solar, biodiesel and liquid natural gas. The Jaguar I-PACE, is an example of an AFV, as it is powered by an onboard rechargeable battery and does not use any petrol or diesel fuel.
(2). AC/DC (Alternating Current/ Direct Current)
Like many people, the first time I come across the acronyms AC and DC was following the Australian rock band AC/DC. However, AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) are not quite as exciting. AC and DC describe the type of ‘current flow’ in a circuit. Put simply, most household appliances like the kettle, toaster, television etc. use AC, while the batteries used for remotes, flashlights etc. use DC. An electric car charging at home will use AC. That’s all you really need to know.
Now for the science: AC is a form of current invented by Nicholas Tesla that reverses its direction of movement constantly back and forth within the circuit, by changing its magnitude and polarity (between positive and negative) at regular intervals. Such current can easily be transformed from higher voltage to lower voltage. The primary difference between AC and DC is that, DC flows only in one direction.
(3). BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)
Also referred to as a ‘pure electric car’, ‘only-electric vehicle’, ‘all-electric vehicle’, ‘fully-electric car’, ‘100% electric car’, is an electric vehicle that does not have an an internal combustion engine, fuel tank or exhaust pipe. Yes, you read it correctly. These vehicles produce zero emissions and run only on rechargeable batteries, via a fully electric drivetrain. These batteries are charged via an external outlet usually with specialised charging infrastructure. Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 are good examples of a BEV. Bottom-line, walk around the BEV, if you cannot see an exhaust pipe it is a pure electric car! Some BEVs can achieve a range close to 400 miles on a single charge, however, most BEVs have a range capability between 100 and 200 miles.
(4). Battery Life
Like petrol and diesel engines, electric car batteries also have a finite lifespan. Though the EV battery has come a long way over the past few years, with batteries designed for extended life, battery degradation is inevitable. Just as normal wear and tear is the case for an ICE vehicle. Currently most EV manufacturers are offering a warranty up to 8 years or 100,000 miles. Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3 all come with a 8 year warranty. The Renault Zoe also comes with a 8 year warranty. The battery life is impacted by a number of factors, which in turn impacts battery electrical performance, to include, the range the electric car can travel. The most commonly used batteries in electric cars are lithium-ion batteries.
(5). Charge Point
A location where an EV can be charged. These include home charging, public charging and workplace charging.
(6). DoD (Depth Of Charge)
A battery’s Depth of Charge is the level of discharge of a battery. As you drive an EV, the battery is discharged. The DoD indicates the % that has been discharged relative to the capacity of a battery. Conversely, a State of Charge (SOC), is the percentage of capacity still available in a battery. If you use 25% of your EV battery capacity, then the DoD is 25% and the SOC is 75%. It is recommended not to fully discharge an electric car battery, as this reduces the lifespan of a battery. Automotive manufacturers publish recommend DoD levels for charging.
(7). Earthed/ Grounded
Users of electrical equipment are protected from electric shocks through a process called earthing. If there is a fault in the electric system, a user can be subject to an electric shock, as the electricity uses part of the body to travel. Earthing protects the user by proving a path for the fault current to reach the earth. As an example, the commonplace household 3-plug pin, has one wire that connects to the earth. Earthing also protects the electrical apparatus from voltage surges etc.
(8). EV (Electric Vehicle)
An EV is any vehicle that uses ‘electricity’ or an ‘electric motor’ to power the vehicle. In the world of electric road transportation, an EV is usually referred to any vehicle that is primarily powered by an electric motor. The electric motor derives its power from a rechargeable battery or batteries. In other words, EVs are less dependent on petrol or diesel as fuel, and in the case of pure-electric cars (BEVs), not dependent at all. EVs do get confusing as it encompasses all types of electric vehicles to include BEV, Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV), Extended Range Electric Vehicles (E-REV) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV).
(9). E-REVs (Extended-Range Electric Vehicles)
Extended range electric vehicles fit in-between a 100% pure electric car (BEV) and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Just when you thought they could not further confuse the consumer, the industry introduced this acronym. An E-REV is closer to a BEV, in the manner in which the wheels are powered. An E-REV wheels are always powered by an onboard battery pack and electric motor. However, like a plug-in hybrid, an E-REV has a small internal combustion engine, which is used only to recharge the onboard battery when depleted. So bottom-line, an EREV helps reduce range anxiety. E-REVs are capable of up to 125 miles on pure electric driving and usually emit emissions of less than 20g/km. However, as the range of BEVs continue to improve significantly, the added range benefit of E-REVs will become redundant. The BMWi3 range extender is a good example of an E-REV.
(10). FCEVs (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles)
Fuel cell electric vehicles, also known as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, is another type of EV. The vehicle uses hydrogen to produce electricity and unlike battery electric vehicles (BEVs), does not require to be recharged. As long as there is hydrogen filled in the vehicle, electricity will be produced to power the vehicle. An FCEV is classed as an ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) as the vehicle has zero emissions. The only discharge from the tailpipe is water vapour. FCEVs have a small onboard battery. Hydrogen is a chemical element and mostly bonded with other other elements. For example H2O (water). The fuel cells in an FCEV convert chemical energy into electrical energy. The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle is an example of a FCEV.
(11). Go Ultra Low
Go Ultra Low is a joint campaign supported by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The primary aim of the joint initiative, is to promote the adoption of electric vehicles in the UK, by providing ‘all the facts and answers’ to help making informed decisions. Audi, Citroen, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Renault are some of its members.
(12). HEVs (Hybrid Electric Vehicles)
Whether you know it or not, you have at sometime time sat in a hybrid electric vehicle. If you have ever used Uber, chances are your transport was the ubiquitous Toyota Prius, which is a leading example of an HEV. HEVs, also sometime referred to as conventional hybrids or tradition hybrids, are low-emission vehicles that combine a traditional internal combustion engine with a small onboard electric battery. The vehicle uses regenerative braking to capture kinetic energy, resulting in an increased economy and reduced emissions.
(13). ICE (Internal Combustion Engine)
An ICE is an engine, that uses a source of fuel like petrol or diesel, along with air, to produce combustion. This process of combustion or ‘burning’ within the engine combustion chamber, releases energy that is used to create motion. The expanding hot gases cause movement by engaging with pistons and rotors. ICE is seen in all forms of transportation to include road transportation. ICE vehicle emit pollution and will be banned from UK roads from 2040 onwards.
(14). NEDC Range
Designed in the 1980s, the New European Driving Cycle was introduced to measure fuel economy and emissions in passenger cars. However, the NEDC has been critised for reporting unrealistic figures compiled via unrealistic conditions in a laboratory setting. Data released through such tests include, urban fuel economy, extra-urban fuel economy, overall fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
(15). PiCG (Plug-In Car Grant)
The PiCG a grant given by the UK government to encourage the uptake of low-emission vehicles in the UK, in particular, pure electric cars. A buyer of an eligible EV does not need to do anything, as the grant is adjusted against the purchase price of the new electric car. Not all low emission vehicles are eligible for a grant, and only those approved by the UK government are eligible. EVs that emit less than 50g/km and can travel at least 70 miles emission free are eligible. The maximum grant for an electric car is £3,500. Other types of vehicles that are also eligible for a grant include, motorcycles, mopeds, vans and taxis.
(16). Regenerative Braking
Driving at all times requires braking. However, on more densely populated roads, the frequency and intensity of braking increases. Yes, it does result in a longer journey, but also reduces the efficiency of the vehicle. Regenerative braking is process of capturing energy otherwise wasted during braking. According to the rules of physics, energy cannot be destroyed, instead it simply transfers from one state to another. The same principle applies to braking. The kinetic energy that propels a car forward is usually displaced or wasted as heat. Regenerative braking captures this kinetic energy that in turns recharges an on board battery, increasing both efficiency and range. Cars like Toyota Prius, Jagual I-PACE and Telsa Model 3 use regenerative braking.
Yes, we have all been there. The over enthusiastic sales person has blighted us with jargon like horsepower and torque, and we have simply nodded our head, pretending to understand. Yes, it is true, like horsepower, the higher the number (value), for torque the better. But why is torque important? Torque is a key factor in determining acceleration of a vehicle and is defined as the engines rotational speed. Torque is most commonly defined as the force required to twist an object. For example a wrench being used. The heavier a car, the more important is the role of torque i.e. the vehicle needs more rotational force to help it accelerate faster.
(18). ULEVs (Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles)
An ultra low emission vehicle is any vehicle that emits less than 75g of CO2/ km and is capable of operating with zero tailpipe emissions for at least 10 miles. In general ULEVs release emissions that are at least 50% lower than petrol and diesel cars, if not significantly lower. ULEVs include all types of electric vehicles to include BEVs, PHEVs, E-REVs etc. and are a key solution in improving air quality. There are currently numerous ULEVs on UK roads to include cars, vans, motorcycles, mopeds and taxis. Examples include the Nissan Leaf, BMWi3, MINI Countryman PHEV, Torrot Muvi and Renault Kangoo ZE.
(19). WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure)
In a bid to continue to improve the quality of realistic data released by automotive manufacturers, on economy, range and CO2 emissions, Europe has implemented its first phase for the WLTP program. The testing procedures under WLTP will result in reduced ranges for electric cars released under other previous testing regimes. The WLTP is seen as a significant improvement over the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) designed in the 1980s and based on theoretical driving. The WLTP has been developed with the aim of becoming a global standard, so that cars can be easily compared between regions.
(20). ZEVs (Zero Emission Vehicles)
A zero emission vehicle is any vehicle that does not emit any harmful pollutants from the exhaust. Battery electric vehicles like the Tesla model X and S are examples of electric cars that are zero emission. Of course, all petrol and diesel cars release significant health and environment damaging pollutants and are not zero emission vehicles. Zero emission vehicles also include other forms of road transportation to include electric vans, e-bikes, e-scooters etc.