Friday, 27 January 2012

The language of electric cars

New technology invariably means all of us have to learn a new language. As electric and alternative fuel 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 EVs (Chevrolet Volt, Ford Azure Dynamics Transit Connect) use an Alternating Current induction motor. Some can be three-phase 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 EVs 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 EVs.
EREV - Extended Range Electric Vehicle (e.g. Chevrolet Volt).
In this configuration the vehicle has both a petrol (gas) engine and electric motor. But the petrol / gas engine never powers the wheels. When the battery runs low, the petrol engine runs to generate electricity to power the electric motor.
EV - Electric Vehicle (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
The most common battery type for EVs currently. Also found in laptops and other electronic devices.
kW - Kilowatt (used here 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.

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