Electric Cars

What the EV does that mean?

BEV, MHEV, PHEV and ULEV. Are you, like thousands of UK motorists, considering switching over to an electric car soon? Better get your head around the lingo then…


Thinking of going electric? You’ve seen the cars, heard about the technology, and fancy some of the savings they can offer. You’ve got the buzz and now you’re getting ready to make the switch.

You’re not alone: thousands of car drivers in the UK are moving over to electric vehicles (EVs), and sales figures continue to soar. Indeed, more EVs were sold in 2021 than in the previous five years added together.

But a glance through the numerous websites, chat room forums and advice articles is starting to ring alarm bells. What does it all mean?

Every industry has its own jargon and terminology and the motor trade is no different. Technology is constantly gathering pace and it’s often difficult to keep up, not only with established areas of the business, but with new developments and technology too.

Drill down even further into the mind-blowing world of electric vehicles and you’ll find an array of terms, expressions and acronyms being used to describe battery-powered cars, as manufacturers, dealers and suppliers all try to map out this brave new world we are entering.

It’s all useful stuff, but you can end up feeling a bit left out because you simply don’t know what it all signifies. And who can blame you? There’s terminology in here that you have never came across before.

So to help you through the minefield of electric vehicle jargon, here is a list of some of the terms and phrases you might come across in your search for a new EV:


AFV: Alternative fuel vehicle. No fossil fuels here: these are vehicles that run on anything other than traditional petrol or diesel. If you don’t fill up at your local garage you probably have an AFV, which can include electric, solar, hydrogen and ethanol fuel sources.

BEV: Battery electric vehicle. There are many types of electric vehicle as we will see, but a BEV is a car or van that runs using power solely from a rechargeable battery. You plug it in, charge it up and go. Simple as that.

HEV: Hybrid electric vehicle. Not ready for a full electric car yet? HEVs have a traditional combustion engine but also an electric motor powered by a battery that is charged using energy gained from the car’s braking. More of that later. The system supports the petrol-powered engine, thus saving fuel.

MHEV: Mild hybrid electric vehicle. One of the HEV family, the MHEV cleverly mixes power from the traditional engine and a battery powered motor for more fuel-efficient, cleaner motoring. The car does all the working out: you don’t have to worry about a thing – including where the next charging station is, as you have two different engines.

mpkWh: miles per kilowatt hour. If you drive a petrol or diesel car you should know what mpg or l/km mean – miles per gallon or litres per kilometre. That’s showing you how far your car goes per unit of fuel. Similarly, mpkWh tells you how far your EV will travel per kWh or unit of electricity. A kilowatt hour is how much energy is used in one hour.

PHEV: Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Rather like a MHEV, these cars have a regular engine and a battery-powered motor. But the batteries in these cars can be plugged in and charged to store much more power: enough to run the electric motor for 40 or 50 miles. That’s perfect for round-town, CO2-free driving.

Range anxiety: One of the reasons you haven’t made the switch to an EV yet is because you’re worried about running out of power before you can find somewhere to recharge. You’re not alone – lots of drivers have ‘range anxiety’ even those that own an electric car. But EVs can go hundreds of miles on a single charge. It’s just a matter of planning ahead.

Regen: Regenerate. As mentioned earlier, some EVs have regenerative braking which creates new electrical power simply by using the brakes. The smart system uses the kinetic energy from slowing down a car and sends it to the car’s battery for storage and later use.

REx: Range extender. No worries about the aforementioned range anxiety here. REx cars use a petrol engine and an electric motor like a hybrid, but this car runs only on battery power until it has almost run out. At this point the petrol engine starts and recharges it. It’s great for peace of mind but bad for additional weight gain and fuel consumption figures.

RPH: Range per hour. This is a fairly new way to work out how much power your (or any) electric car charger is going to give you. It’s an estimation of how many miles you will have on your battery after a specific period of time recharging. So 100 RPH will give you 100 miles per hour of charging.

ULEV: Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. If you are going down the electric route because you want to do your bit for the environment, a ULEV is the car for you. It has been deemed to emit less than 75g/km of CO2 by an international assessment system called WLTP (World Harmonised Light-Vehicle Test Procedure). Great for the environment and your road tax bill.


Still not sure about what something means?

Ask us – Tusker want you to change over to EVs for the right reasons, based on goals that you understand and, if you’re still not sure what something means, you can contact our support team for help.

Interested in finding out more?