EV 101: Terminology Explained

EV 101: Terminology Explained

For anyone new to electric vehicles (EV) who is shopping around for their next modern investment, understanding EV terminology and concepts is important for several reasons. EV jargon is not rocket science but owning an EV is a totally different experience to having a gas-powered car. It also helps to have a basic understanding when researching your EV options that would best suit your traveling requirements.

With the world starting its electrification mission towards global sustainable energy, more people are looking into buying electric vehicles. So, to help potential, new, and current EV owners, we’ve put a together a list of key concepts that every EV enthusiast needs to be aware of.  


This is the abbreviation for Ampere, a unit of electricity measuring a steady current produced by one volt applied across a resistance of one ohm. EVs typically take in around 32 amps, which add an estimated 25 miles of range per hour of charging. A charging station offering 32 amps is a good choice and if you want to increase travel speed or get a faster charge, the 50-amp chargers add 37 miles of range per hour of charging.


The EV battery is the important component of the vehicle as it is the electric storage unit that converts electricity as the source of power. US regulations stipulate that EV batteries should have a warranty for a minimum of eight years or 100,000 miles – whichever comes first. This is offered by Tesla on new vehicle purchases.


The EV battery needs to be charged, which can be done using a standard wall outlet / 220-volt line at home or at a public charging station. The different levels of charging available are explained here.


An EV’s maximum power output is expressed in horsepower as well as kilowatts (kW).


This is the acronym for non-electric vehicles. An Internal Combustion Engine runs on fossil fuels i.e., diesel or petrol.


This is an electrical power measurement abbreviated as kW that describes the electric motor’s maximum output. 1 kW is about the equivalent of 1.34 horsepower.


Often confused with kilowatts (described above), this refers to kilowatts per hour, which describes the measurement of electricity equal to the amount of energy expended in one hour by one kilowatt of power. An electric vehicle’s capacity is expressed in kWh and typically noted as the number of kilowatts per hour needed to run the vehicle for 100 miles (kWh/100 miles). This describes the EV’s energy consumption.


This is a high-energy rechargeable battery, which is used not only in EVs but many other devices like computers and phones. It uses lithium ions as part of its electrochemistry.


Miles per gallon is not an EV term but it’s helpful to know that as a comparison between EVs and ICE, MPG is calculated using the conversion of 33.705 kilowatt-hours of electricity equals one gallon of gas.


This is how many miles an electric vehicle can travel on a single full charge of the battery.


This is a braking mechanism in EV and hybrid vehicles that works to recover energy that is usually lost when decelerating. The braking sends energy back to the battery to maintain a charge. Some EVs can also increase regenerative braking to slow down, known as one-pedal driving.


Hybrid EVs that have a small gas engine are also called a Range Extended Electric Vehicle. The gas engine runs a generator to run the motor when the battery is depleted. The vehicle’s range is then dependant on how much fuel is available.


Also referred to as SOC, this is the meter on an EV’s display panel that shows the current battery level in a percentage value.


Torque is the force felt when a vehicle aggressively accelerates. Electric motors provide 100% of the available torque immediately at that point of acceleration. This enables a fast launch and makes the vehicle feel quicker even if the horsepower rating is low.


This is a Zero Emissions Vehicle that indicates the car does not have release tailpipe emissions. Pure all-electric vehicles are ZEV.