EV Terminology Explained

With Electric Vehicles come a whole new vocabulary, sometimes obvious, sometimes a bit confusing. So, if you want to understand the difference between a BEV, an ULEV and a PHEV, read on.

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EV Glossary

Electric Vehicle (EV):

A catch-all term for vehicles with an electric battery. The term is often used to refer to “pure electric” vehicles.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV):

Vehicles that run solely on electric power via an on-board battery. They require regular charging on mains electricity.

Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV):

A car that has official tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions of less than 75g/km which makes it eligible for grants and benefits from the UK government.

Hybrid Car:

A term for all types of electric vehicles with both a fuel-based engine and an electric motor. 

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV):

A car with both an ICE and an on-board electric battery. This allows for electric-powered driving for short distances or an extended range from a combination of the petrol engine and electric motor.

Full Hybrid or “Self-Charging” Hybrid:

EVs that run mostly on fossil fuel. They house a small battery which is charged through regenerative braking. However, the electric motor can only power the car for short periods and at low speeds.

Range-Extended EV (REx):

A type of plug-in electric vehicle that has a small petrol or diesel motor and a small fuel-based power unit which helps charge its battery.


Any vehicle with a traditional, internal combustion engine.

Kilowatt hour (kWh):

The measurement unit for EV batteries’ energy capacity. It represents the battery’s ability to deliver power (kilowatts) over a period of time (hours).

Miles per kilowatt-hour (MpkWh):

A measurement of an EV’s efficiency, equivalent to miles-per-gallon/litre in ICE vehicles.

Range per hour (RPH):

The miles of range your EV can travel from charging it for one hour.

Regenerative braking:

A type of braking system that converts a vehicle’s kinetic energy from braking into electricity to recharge its battery.

Real world range:

This is the more likely range of an EV, driven in the 'real world' as opposed to the manufacturer's WLTP range figures, which are calculated from testing in the laboratory.

Trickle Charge:

Another name for Level 1 charging, also referred to as a “slow charge”. This type of charging allows EVs to be charged with most standard outlets. These chargers are slow, providing only a couple miles per hour charged.