Blog > Do You Speak EV? The language of Electric Vehicles.

Do You Speak EV? The language of Electric Vehicles.

Have you ever been caught in conversation with an electric vehicle enthusiast? It’s probably a rare occurrence, but if you have, words like watts, amperes (Amps) and maybe even induction asynchronous motor might be involved. Like it or lump it, electric vehicles are the future, and words like these will become more commonplace. Whether you’re a gear head, car nerd or just curious about how electric vehicles work, understanding the terms and basic concepts behind EVs is something you might want to have in your back pocket. 

Below are a few terms and basic concepts about electric vehicles. Learning these will help you understand EVs better and, at the very least, give you impressive conversation content for your next social.


A volt is a unit of electric potential, electric potential difference, and electromotive force. Sounds complicated, right? The best way to describe a volt without sounding like Einstein is with a simple plumbing analogy. In this analogy, water is equivalent to power. Think of a volt as a measurement of electrical pressure found in a garden hose. For a given hose diameter, turning up the pressure moves more water. So, when you turn up the volts, you turn up the power.


Continuing the garden hose analogy, think of the ampere (aka amp) as a measurement of electrical “flow,” with a larger-diameter hose—higher amperage—flowing more water (electrical power) at any given pressure (voltage).


A watt is a measure of the expenditure of energy over time. In an internal combustion engine, we would call this horsepower. One horsepower is the equivalent of 745.7 watts. Want to impress your friend by taking this a step further? A watt is named after James Watt, a Scottish inventor, chemist and mechanical engineer who lived in the 1700s. Coincidentally, he also defined the term “horsepower.” How’s that for trivia?


1,000 watts make up a kilowatt. Watts are small, so a bunch of them need to be grouped up to have meaning in the world of vehicle-level power: One kilowatt is equal to 1.34 horsepower. When you think of it relative to a 60-watt lightbulb, you can get a real sense of how much power it takes to move a 1,700 kg vehicle. That’s a lot of watts.


Remember James Watt? Well, it turns out he developed the steam engine. Horsepower was a unit originally invented to aid in the sales and marketing of steam engines by measuring the output of the then-new machines in familiar, easy-to-understand terms. Like the watt, horsepower is a measure of energy delivery over time.


Think of torque as the force of twist. Torque is present in everyday happenings like twisting a doorknob, using a wrench, opening a bottle, or even pedalling a bike. In an electric vehicle, torque measures the force applied around an axis. Importantly, torque is independent of movement or time meaning torque can be applied at zero rpm. To make sense of that, think about turning a doorknob until it stops and then holding it there. The force you use to turn it is torque, and so is the force you’re using to hold it, even though the doorknob is no longer rotating.


A lithium-ion battery is rechargeable and uses a lithium-based cathode (positive electrode). In the charging process, negatively charged electrons are supplied to the anode (negative electrode), drawing charged lithium particles (ions) through an electrolyte from the cathode to the anode, where they are stored. When the battery discharges, the ions return to the lithium cathode, freeing the stored electrons to move, generating electricity. A separator prevents current from travelling within the battery. Most electric vehicles use a Lithium-ion battery because of how much power they can store and how quickly they charge, compared to other types of batteries.


The rotor is the rotating bit in an electric motor. Think of it kind of like the crankshaft of a combustion engine. The forces in the motor cause the rotor to spin, and that spinning is the motor’s output.


The stator is the stationary part surrounding the rotary system of an electric motor. The stator causes the rotor to spin by creating a constantly rotating magnetic field around its circumference. This rotating magnetic field interacts with the rotor’s magnetic field, causing it to spin.

Permanent-magnet synchronous motor

This is kind of like the stator’s best friend. The rotor’s magnetic field is supplied by permanent rare earth magnets, which rotate in sync with the stator’s rotating magnetic field, hence the “synchronous” part of the name.

Induction asynchronous motor

Instead of permanent magnets, induction motors use electrical current to induce a magnetic field in a cage of metal bars on the rotor. For the electromagnetic induction process to happen, there must be some slight misalignment between the areas of the stator and the metal bars on the rotor. This misalignment is known as “slip,” and it’s also what makes the motor “asynchronous.”

If you need a nap after reading this, we get it. These terms are a lot for the brain to digest. Hopefully, you feel better equipped to understand the inner workings of new and used electric vehicles and their differences from gas-powered cars. If you’re ready for the next step in your EV journey, can help get you behind the wheel of an electric vehicle that’s right for you. And since we have you all exhausted from learning, we’ll deliver it right to your door!