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Important Terms from A to Z

Fuel cell

A fuel cell works electrochemically like a battery, supplying electric current. Unlike a standard battery, however, it does not need to be replaced or recharged when it is exhausted. A fuel cell can continuously generate electricity from hydrogen and oxygen as long as it is supplied with sufficient hydrogen to do so. This reaction produces no emissions other than water vapor. Fuel cells with refillable hydrogen tanks are therefore a possible alternative to batteries in electric cars.

CAN bus

The CAN bus is a data network used in vehicles to interconnect various components of the vehicle electronics. CAN stands for Controller Area Network. The word bus in this context means a common data line that can be used by different devices to communicate with each other.

Car-sharing, e-car-sharing

Particularly in large cities such as Berlin, more and more people are doing without their own cars and instead using car-sharing services - the organized shared use of vehicles. Electric vehicles are particularly well suited to occasional urban transport, so many car-sharing providers now operate their own electric fleets.

Combo 2 plug

Combo 2 is an older designation for the Combined Charging System (CCS) direct current fast charging method developed and used in Europe and the associated plug.


Electromobility refers to the use of electrically powered vehicles - pedelecs, E-scooters, electric cars, etc. - for individual mobility in business and private transport.


Charging stations are often still equipped with proprietary billing systems, i.e. systems that are restricted to a limited group of users and only allow charging for a limited group of customers. In contrast, e-roaming refers to the possibility of obtaining electricity for one's vehicle at the charging stations of any provider, which is then billed in each case via one's own contractual partner.

Vehicle types: FCEV, BEV, PHEV, Plug-In, REEV, etc.

There are a whole range of different vehicle concepts that fall under the category of electromobility. The most important are:

  • FCEV (Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicle): Electric cars with fuel cells. Fuel cells generate electrical power from hydrogen or methane, replacing the battery as a power storage device.
  • BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle): An exclusively battery electric car
  • PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle): These vehicles have a full combustion engine and an additional electric drive that can be used for shorter distances. Plug-ins have a battery that can be charged at a charging station or even while driving with an internal combustion engine.
  • REEV (Range-Extended EV): These electric vehicles have a small additional combustion engine that can charge the battery while driving, extending the range by up to 500 kilometers.
  • HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle): In addition to an internal combustion engine, these hybrid vehicles have a small battery on board that is charged via regenerative braking and drives an auxiliary motor to boost thrust.
Free Floating

Car sharing that does not require the vehicle to be returned to the same location from which it started.

Direct current (DC)

Direct current is electric current to which a fixed flow direction can be assigned. This is the case, for example, with conventional household batteries: They have a fixed positive and negative pole and the current always flows from negative to positive. The same applies to the battery in an electric car. This also supplies direct current. In contrast, our energy supply is essentially based on alternating current.


The abbreviation GWV stands for Güterwirtschaftsverkehr (freight and passenger transportation). This includes fetching, bringing and generally transporting goods, merchandise, materials, machines or equipment.


Hybrid vehicles are those that combine two different drive technologies: Usually a conventional combustion engine and an electric drive. Classic hybrid vehicles use the electric drive to extend the range or save fuel. The battery charges while driving, for example during heavy braking maneuvers. Plug-in hybrids can also be charged at a charging station and driven purely electrically.

Inductive charging

You know the principle from the electric toothbrush. Inductive charging is wireless and without a fixed contact between the charging station and the vehicle. In special parking areas, a large coil in the flooring generates the charging current directly in the vehicle, which, however, requires special technical equipment for this purpose. In principle, inductive charging is even possible while driving - a future scenario.


In freight transport, intermodality refers to the transport of a piece of freight or a load unit by several means of transport, such as rail and truck. The term is also frequently used for passenger transport in connection with electromobility. Here, we refer intermodal transport when different means of transport are used for one journey, for example to go to work. In distinction to this, multimodal means the alternating use of different means of transport for different journeys, for example going shopping by car, taking the streetcar to work.

Charging cards

Various systems are in use to be able to charge an electric vehicle at a public charging station. Charging cards in the form of commercially available chip cards are very flexible. Users can identify themselves at the charging station with the card and the electricity is activated and billed via the card. In tests within the showcase initiative of the German government, the prepaid charging card has proven to be a popular model.

Charging point

A charging point refers to the charging possibility for one electric vehicle at a time. A charging station or charging pole can include several charging points.

Li-ion battery

Most electric cars today have lithium-ion batteries. These are characterized by a very high energy density and a very low memory effect. For the same reasons, lithium-ion technology has already gained acceptance for cell phone batteries.

LIS charging infrastructure

The charging infrastructure includes all charging devices for electric vehicles in public and private spaces.


The abbreviation MIV covers motorized individual transport with cars, motorcycles, scooters, quads, and similar vehicles.


NOW (GmbH) - National Organization Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology - is a federal institution. It coordinates the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Program (NIP) and the Electromobility Model Regions Program of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).


The National Platform for Electromobility (NPE) is an advisory body to the German government. It brings together the key players from industry, science, politics, trade unions, and associations for strategic dialog. The NPE publishes progress reports at irregular intervals.


The abbreviation OBU stands for on-board unit and refers to a device used to record data in a vehicle, for example for billing purposes in e-car-sharing or highway tolls.


The term OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) actually refers to a manufacturer of products that are put on the market by another company. In the automotive sector, however, it means the opposite: Here, OEM means a vehicle manufacturer.


There are three categories to describe the accessibility of charging stations: Public charging stations are located on public property accessible to everyone. Semi-public charging stations are located on private property (e.g. supermarket parking lots, company premises) and are accessible to everyone under certain conditions, e.g. only during opening hours. Private charging stations are located on private property and are only accessible to certain individuals.


The abbreviation ÖPNV stands for public transport and thus means the provision of public suburban railroad, streetcar, metro, and bus lines. Among other things, public transport is distinguished from individual transport, freight transport and long-distance transport.

Pedelec / E-bike

A bicycle equipped with an electric assist motor is called a pedelec (Pedal Electric Cycle) or e-bike. As long as their speed is technically limited to 25 km/h, pedelecs are subject to the same provisions in German traffic law as bicycles. So you don't need a license plate, helmet, driver's license or liability insurance.


The abbreviation PWV stands for business passenger transport. The term includes all transport within the scope of services and servicing (e.g. customer services) as well as business travel in local and long-distance transport.

Range Extender

Range extender ("range extender") is the name of a small combustion engine on board an electric car that can recharge the battery while driving. This allows the electric car to cover longer distances without charging facilities.


Range refers to the distance a vehicle can travel on one battery charge or tank of fuel.

Schaufenster project

With the "Showcase Electric Mobility" program, the German government is promoting development in the areas of electric vehicles, energy supply, and transportation systems in selected, large-scale regional demonstration and pilot projects. There are four showcase regions in Germany. One of these is the "International Showcase Electromobility Berlin-Brandenburg", which is coordinated by eMO.

Quick charge

There are different techniques for charging the battery of an electric vehicle, each requiring different charging stations and special equipment on the vehicle itself. In addition to standard charging, which can be done in 6-8 hours using household electricity (3.7 kW), several vehicles already have a DC fast charging facility. There are two different technical standards for this: CHAdeMO and the Combined Charging System (CCS), which dominates in Europe. A quick charge can be done in as little as 20-30 minutes.  Here, charging currents flow from 50 to 125 kilowatts) At most publicly accessible charging stations, vehicles can be charged at 11 or 22 kilowatts, i.e. much faster than at a household socket. The research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy SLAM funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, aims to expand the CCS fast-charging network throughout Germany. 

Schuko plug, type 1, 2, 3, chADemo

Various cables and plugs are commonly used to connect electric cars to the charging station,. The so-called Schuko plug fits into a standard household socket. Plug types 1, 2 & 3 are specially designed for electric cars. Since March 2014, the European standard has been the "Type 2 plug", also known as the Mennekes plug.
There are also dedicated plugs for the common DC fast charging methods Combined Charging System (CCS or Combo 2) and CHAdeMO.

Smart city

The term smart city describes a wide variety of ideas and concepts for a networked city in which life is supposed to be simpler, more (energy) efficient and more comfortable thanks to modern technologies.

Smart grid

The smart grid refers to the vision of an "intelligent" power grid that no longer distributes electricity in one direction only from the central power plant to households, but in the age of renewable energies can flexibly manage a multitude of decentralized feed-in points, temporary storage facilities and power consumers. Electric cars can take on the role of electricity storage units: When there is a surplus of renewable electricity, for example when there is strong wind, the batteries of the electric cars connected to the grid at that time are automatically charged at a discounted rate. Conversely, for a fee, the batteries could bridge short-term bottlenecks in the grid if the vehicle owner allows it.

Smart home

Smart home refers to the concept of networking various technical systems in a house or apartment with one another in order to increase living comfort and optimize energy consumption. In this context, the electric car is often considered as a decentralized energy storage device that can, for example, absorb electricity from the company's own photovoltaic system when it is not needed and release it again at short notice when demand increases.

Smart meter

A smart meter is an "intelligent" electricity meter that is capable of recording a wide variety of data on a household's electricity consumption and also possible feed-in. Smart meters are an essential prerequisite for a smart grid - in other words, a flexible decentralized power grid characterized by many changing feed-in points, consumers, and intermediate storage facilities.


The abbreviation stands for local rail passenger transport and summarizes the services of the railroad companies in local public transport. This means all local trains and streetcars.


TCO is the abbreviation for "Total Cost of Ownership" and refers to a specific, holistic approach to calculating economic efficiency. This not only considers the investment costs of an item, for example the purchase of a vehicle, but also the costs of operation, repairs, and maintenance for the entire expected useful life.


A wallbox is a simple charging station for an electric vehicle that can be mounted on the wall. The wallbox is usually installed on company premises or in a private garage, as it does not provide a billing option for the electricity drawn.


Hydrogen is a non-toxic gas that burns in the air to form water while generating heat. In a so-called fuel cell, this reaction produces not only heat but also electricity, which can be used to power an electric car. For this reason, hydrogen is considered a possible fuel of the future.

Alternating current (AC=alternating current)

Alternating current is generated in generators by rotating magnets - the principle is familiar from bicycle dynamos. The rotation creates a current with a fluctuating flow direction, it flows back and forth, so to speak. There are different types of alternating current: Thus, the frequency of turnover may differ and the change itself may be soft or abrupt. Household electricity, for example, changes direction in a soft sinusoidal shape, with a frequency of 50 hertz, which is: 50 times a second. In contrast, the direct current of a battery always flows in a fixed direction.