Attendees look at the 100 percent electric, zero-emission Mitsubishi innovative...

Attendees look at the 100 percent electric, zero-emission Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) on display during the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0 at the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter in Las Vegas, Nev. (Aug. 30, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

—Battery electric vehicle: Also called a BEV. This is a vehicle powered solely or primarily by a battery or battery pack. You charge the battery and run the car. There's no gasoline engine or hydrogen fuel cell to kick in and provide more power when the battery is out of juice. And there is no tailpipe or emissions.

—EREV: Some automakers call vehicles that run on electric motors and battery power for some distance before a combustion engine starts generating electricity an "extended range electric vehicle." General Motors uses this term to describe its Volt, but others in the industry refer to such a vehicle as a type of hybrid.

—Hybrid: A hybrid electric vehicle, or HEV, is any vehicle that can draw propulsion energy from a combination of the following on-vehicle energy sources: consumable fuel (used in a combustion engine or fuel cell) and an energy storage device such as a battery, capacitor or flywheel.

—kWh: A kilowatt-hour is a measure of electrical energy. Batteries (and battery packs) used by electric vehicles and hybrids are rated by the kWh capacity of their battery pack because it represents how far the auto might travel solely on electric power. One kWh generally has enough energy to propel a car four to five miles.

—Level 1 charging: Charging from a typical wall socket, typically a 110- or 120-volt outlet. Electric vehicles gain five to six miles for every hour they charge on Level 1.

—Level 2 charging: Charging from a 220- or 240-volt outlet. This goes much faster than a regular wall outlet because it pulls more current at a higher voltage. Most electric vehicle owners install Level 2 charging systems in their homes. An EV can get 10 to 60 miles of range per hour of charging depending on the amperage of the circuit.

—Level 3 charging: Also known as DC fast charging, this is a specialized high-voltage system that can charge a battery pack in about 30 minutes. It requires a special port on the electric vehicle and a special charging station that, as of now, is not widely available.

—Off-peak charging: Charging the battery pack during periods of low demand for electricity, usually at night. This can reduce the cost of charging.

—Parallel hybrid: A vehicle in which drive power is supplied by both an electric motor and a combustion engine working together.

—Plug-in hybrid vehicle: The vehicle has a battery pack that powers a motor and can be charged through an electrical outlet. Such a car will also have a combustion engine that extends the range of the vehicle once the battery is drained. The extended range can come through the combustion engine powering the wheels or through the engine generating electricity to run the electric motor in the car.

—Partial zero emissions vehicle: Also known as a PZEV, the vehicle has some sort of technology, such as an electric motor, that allows the car to travel at least some of the time without spewing emissions. They meet certain California Air Resources Board emission limitations and are covered by a 15-year, 150,000-mile warranty on the emissions system.

—Range anxiety: Fear of not having enough power in the battery to get to a destination.

—Series hybrid vehicle: A vehicle in which power is delivered to the drive wheels solely by an electric motor but which uses a combustion engine to provide electric energy to the battery or the electric motor.

—ZEV: A zero-emission vehicle. That means no pollutants come out of its tailpipe. Such vehicles include electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles and often qualify for government sales incentives and other perks such as carpool lane permits. 

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