Language of electric cars

New technology invariably means all of us have to learn a new language. As electric vehicles roll out, a whole new set of abbreviations and acronyms have entered the automotive lexicon. Here is a current glossary of terms:

– AC motors – Alternating Current motors

Some electric vehicles (Chevrolet Volt, Ford Azure Dynamics Transit Connect) use an Alternating Current induction motor. Some can be threephase AC motors, which are more compact and less costly as a single phase motor.

– BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle

Used by Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i MiEV, etc.

– CHAdeMO – an abbreviation of CHArge de MOve

According to Wikipedia it is an abbreviation of O cha demo ikaga desuka in Japanese. This roughly translates as "How about some tea?" – a reference to having to wait while an electric vehicle charges. The CHAdeMO protocol is a proposed global standard that can deliver up to 62.5 kW of high-voltage direct current to a car’s battery. This means it can charge a 16-kWh battery to 80 per cent capacity in 20 minutes.

– Conductive coupling

The transfer of electricity by means of physical contact of a conductive medium. This is how the current electric vehicles are charged.

– CNG – Compressed Natural Gas

Used by the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-sized vans.

– DCPM – Direct Current Permanent Magnet

Describes the type of electric motor used in a number of electric vehicles.

– EREV – Extended Range Electric Vehicle (e.g. Chevrolet Volt).

In this configuration the vehicle has both a gasoline engine and electric motor. But the gasoline engine never powers the wheels. When the battery runs low, the gasoline engine runs to generate electricity to power the electric motor.

– EV – Electric Vehicle or electric car (also referred to as a BEV-Battery Electric Vehicle)

– EVSE – Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Commonly referred to as an EV’s charging station – but from a technical standpoint it is not a charger. This equipment is connected to a power source and serves as an interface that controls the flow of electricity to an EV.

They are typically mounted on a wall or pedestal. Installed in a residential garage, they can be plugged into a dedicated 240 volt socket (identical to an electrical clothes dryer) or directly wired into a home’s circuit box.

– FCV – Fuel Cell Vehicle (e.g. Honda Clarity)

– gCO2/km – grams of carbon dioxide produced per kilometre of driving

A measure of how much carbon dioxide a vehicle produces per kilometre. Over the typical life cycle of a passenger vehicle, fuel use accounts for 75 per cent of a vehicle’s CO2 emissions. Of the balance, 19 per cent is attributed to fuel production, four per cent for the extraction or raw materials to make the vehicle and two per cent to the assembly process.

– Le/100 km – Litre equivalent of fuel used per 100 km of driving

This new standard adds an "e" to the typical fuel consumption numbers to help consumers understand and make comparisons between electric and regular fossil fuel.

– Li-Ion – Lithium ion batteries

The most common battery type for EVs currently. Also found in laptops and other electronic devices.

– kW – Kilowatt (used to indicate an electric motor’s power output) – kWh – Kilowatt Hour (used to compare battery capacity)

A unit of energy equal to one kilowatt (1 kW) of power expended over one hour of time.

– PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (e.g. Toyota Prius PHEV)

In this configuration, the vehicle has both a gasoline-electric engine and electric motor. Both propel the vehicle. Batteries are smaller than a dedicated BEV so its all-electric range is lower.

– SAE-J1772

A North American standard that covers the electrical charging protocol that most EV manufacturers selling in North America have adhered to. Most vehicles advertise that their vehicles are J1772 compliant – meaning the standard fivepin charge coupler will seamlessly mate with an EV vehicle’s connector. The round connector adopted by the J1772 standard was designed by Yazaki.

The standard has several layers of shock protection, including its use in wet environments. No power is supplied to the coupler pins when not mated to the vehicle. A proximity detector prevents the car from operating when connected to the charger.

Pedro Arrais,