0345 811 9595

Mon-Fri 9am to 5.30pm

Electric Car Glossary

Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has put together some concepts that are essential to understand when leasing an electric car. This includes several terms generally used in motoring as well as definitions specific to leasing.

Electric Vehicle Types

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) are solely powered by an electric motor that takes electricity straight from the grid when you plug into a charging point. The electricity is held in the vehicle's rechargeable batteries that power the electric motor and turn the vehicle's wheels.

You can learn more about battery electric vehicles in our Benefits of an Electric Car guide and Electric Car FAQs guide.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)

A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) uses similar technology as a full hybrid using an electric motor with a conventional gasoline engine, but a PHEV has a much larger battery. As the name suggests, a PHEV has to be plugged into a power source to charge the battery. This can be done at a public charge point or even a three-pin socket at your home or workplace. However, unlike a full hybrid or mild hybrid vehicle, a PHEV can travel further using only electric power.

Find out more about plug-in hybrids in our hybrid car guide.

Electric vehicle (EV)

There are three main types of electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles (BEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Full electric cars are powered solely by electric motors meaning they are almost entirely silent when moving and produce zero emissions. Hybrid vehicles, on the other hand, such as PHEVs and full hybrids (HEVs), use a traditional petrol or diesel engine to power the car, meaning they cause pollution and noise, just like a regular vehicle.

You can read more about how electric cars differ from diesel and petrol cars in our benefits of an electric car guide.

Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV)

An Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is a designated area where all vehicles that travel through the vicinity must meet strict emission requirements or face a daily travel charge.

An ultra-low emission vehicle is a car that meets strict emission standards. Here are some of the requirements according to london.gov.uk:

  • Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans (less than 14 years old in 2019)
  • Euro 6 for diesel cars (less than five years old in 2019)
  • Euro 6 for diesel vans (less than four years old in 2019)
  • Euro 3 for motorcycles and other L-category vehicles
  • Euro VI for buses, lorries and coaches

Check out our ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) guide for more information and see the best car leasing offers which meet strict standards.

Range-extended EV (REx)

A Range-extended EV (REx) is a battery electric vehicle that runs on electricity but includes an auxiliary power unit known as a range extender. The range extender is usually a small petrol engine that drives an electric generator and charges the battery that supplies the vehicle's electric motor. Driving the electric motor rather than the wheel allows for an increased range from the vehicle. Range-extended electric cars reduce emissions by producing zero emissions for around 50 to 100 miles before the range extender engine is used.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are powered by hydrogen and are more efficient than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles as they produce no tailpipe emissions and only emit water vapour and warm air. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are similar to that of an electric vehicle as energy stored as hydrogen is converted to electricity by the fuel cell. They can be typically fueled in less than 4 minutes and have a driving range of over 300 miles. Currently, fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) art very popular. However, major automobile manufacturers are offering a limited but growing number of production FCEVs to the public in certain markets.

Hybrid Car Types

Hybrid Car

Hybrid cars are powered by combining an internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric motor. Most hybrid vehicles use their regenerative braking technology, which automatically recharges their battery while moving, using energy typically lost during braking or when the car is at a stand-still. This energy is then used in several ways, either by powering the vehicle's wheels or acting as a booster to help deliver improved fuel economy without losing performance.

Some hybrid vehicles batteries can also be charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric charge point. This can be done at a public charge point or even a three-pin socket at your home or workplace. The plug-in hybrids larger batteries can hold more electricity, increasing the number of miles it can travel on electric power only.

Find out more in our hybrid car guide.

Full Hybrid or "Self-Charging" Hybrid

Full Hybrid or Self-Charging Hybrid combines a 30 to a 70-kilowatt electric motor with a gasoline engine (usually petrol) to power the car, either simultaneously or independently. They work by harvesting power during regenerative braking to power the electric motor and using start-stop technology to boost overall efficiency. A full hybrid car can drive Soley on electricity powering the vehicle independently at low speeds for short distances, unlike a mild hybrid.

Full Hybrids are the most common hybrid vehicle in the UK as it's the best option for drivers who travel lots of miles. This is because full hybrid vehicles do not need to be plugged into a power source like a pure electric vehicle or a PHEV as they automatically recharge their battery whilst on the move.

Find out more in our hybrid car guide.

Mild Hybrid

Mild hybrid combines traditional petrol or diesel engine with a small electric motor to help reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. However, unlike a full hybrid or PHEV, a mild hybrid car cannot drive under electric power alone. Instead, the gasoline engine in a mild hybrid does most of the work with the electric motor purely acting as a power booster to support the engine and improve efficiency.

A mild hybrid vehicle helps save fuel by using its start-stop technology, which turns off the engine when the car is cruising,  braking or stationary. Although a mild hybrid doesn't have the same fuel efficiency as a PHEV or a full hybrid, it still offers increased savings at the fuel pump compared to conventional petrol or diesel-powered cars. Mild hybrids also cost less to produce and are therefore less expensive to lease or buy, meaning there is an affordable alternative to a full hybrid or PHEV.

Find out more in our what is a hybrid car and is it right for me guide.

Electric Car Charging Connectors

Type 1 EV charging connector type

Type 1 charging plugs design features 5-pins single-phase and allows fast charging at a power output level of 3.7kW-7.4kW AC and a range per hour of approximately 12.5-25 miles. This plug is mainly used with car models found in Asia and parts of Europe.

Type 2 EV charging connector type

Type 2 charging features a 7-pin plug design that is the standard for the European market. It offers fast charging capability with a power output level of 3.7kW-7kW AC and an approximate range per hour of charging 12.5-25 miles. One exception to this standard is Tesla Superchargers which use Type 2 connectors for DC rapids. The output level is 130kW with a range per hour of 180 miles.

Type 2 charging connectors have an inbuilt locking mechanism that ensures you can safely and reliably use them at charging stations without worry. The strong output is facilitated by three-phase power, making it possible to have such chargers professionally installed at home. Most charging stations support Type 2 sockets.

CHAdeMO EV charging connector type

CHAdeMO EV charging cables and plugs offer quick charging with a capacity of up to 50kW DC with an approximate range per 30 minutes of charging 75 miles and are typically available at public charging stations.  It is compatible with various manufacturers with Tesla Superchargers also able to use this charging system but will require a modified Type 2 Mennekes plug.

Combined Charging System (CCS) EV charging connector type

Combined Charging System (CCS) is a modified version of the Type 2 plug. This charging connector type adds two extra power contact points that facilitate rapid charging, supporting both AC and DC charging with a power output level ranging from 50kW-350kW.

UK three-pin EV charging connector type

You can use a three-pin plug with an EVSE cable to charge your electric vehicle. However, most manufacturers recommend three-pin charging as a last resort as some sockets aren't rated for long periods of continuous heavy usage, especially if you're thinking of using an extension cable.

Electric Car Chargers

Top Up Charging

Top up charging is whenever your electric vehicle is parked, such as at home overnight or during the day at the gym, supermarket or workplace, you plug in your car into a charging point. Instead of letting the battery run empty and waiting a while until it fully recharges, you can make use of the time your vehicle is parked to keep the battery topped up and ready to go.

Find out more in our electric car charging times and electric car charging points guides.

Home Charging

Home charging is probably the most convenient way to charge your vehicle as you can leave your car to charge overnight, and it will be ready in the morning. To charge an electric vehicle at home, you need to have a home charging point installed where you park your vehicle. Most electric car drivers usually choose a dedicated home charging point as it's faster and has built-in safety features. You can also use an EVSE supply cable for a three-pin plug socket as an occasional backup.

Find out more in our electric car charging points guide.

RFID Cards

Radio frequency identification (RFID) cards register and pay for various EV charging station networks across the UK on a pay-per-use basis. RFID Cards are not a requirement when owning an electric car as there are alternative methods to pay, such as a smartphone app or contactless. However, RFID cards can make using public chargers quicker and easier.

Range Anxiety

Range Anxiety is a term used when a driver fears that a vehicle has insufficient fuel/electricity to cover the road distance needed to reach its planned destination, worrying you might get stranded.

Range per hour (RPH)

The (RPH) is the miles of range per hour of charge.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

The kWh is the amount of energy a 1,000-watt appliance uses in an hour.

Smart charging

Smart charging is when an electric vehicle and a charging device share data, which gets shared with the charging operator. Unlike traditional charging devices that aren't connected to the cloud, smart charging allows the charging station owner to manage, monitor and restrict the use of their devices remotely to optimize energy consumption.

Rapid charger

In the UK, there are two types of rapid chargers available, AC (Alternating Current) or DC (Direct Current). Rapid AC chargers function at 43kW, and most Rapid DC units offer 50kW of power. Both chargers will charge your vehicle in as little as 30 to 60 minutes, depending on battery capacity. Luxury car leasing manufacturers, like Tesla has there own range of Rapid DC Superchargers, which charge at around 120kW. However, these chargers use a modified Type 2 connection, although adaptors are available. 

It's important to keep in mind while rapid chargers offer the quickest charging time, not all electric cars are compatible with rapid charging. Public rapid charging points also aren't as common as fast chargers, with Zap-Map putting their numbers at just under 1,000.

Slow Charging

A slow charger offers power up to 3kW and typically takes around 6-12 hours for a pure EV and 2-4 hours for a PHEV. Slow chargers are usually a three-pin domestic plug or lamp post chargers on public streets, with most drivers choosing to use slow chargers for overnight charging. This is the most convenient way to charge your vehicle.

Fast Charging

You'll find fast-charging stations at numerous urban locations, from supermarket car parks to shopping centres, cinemas and retail parks. A 7kW fast charger will charge your EV battery in around 4-6 hours, while a 22kW unit will do it in a couple of hours. Most fast chargers are untethered, but you can get some home and workplace units that come with cables attached.

Rapid Charging

Rapid charging is the quickest way to charge an electric vehicle, often found at motorway services or locations close to main routes. They supply high power direct or alternating current DC or AC to recharge a car as fast as possible. All rapid charge devices are tethered to the unit, so you make sure your EV is compatible with the charger, and your vehicle has the rapid-charging capability. Although they can charge an electric car battery to 80% full in as little as 30 to 60 minutes to help protect the battery, the charging speed is reduced as the battery gets closer to full charge. This means that the battery's lifespan is protected as much as possible, even with regular use.

EV-friendly staycations Charging an electric car at home