Electric vehicles (EVs) are an increasingly attractive low carbon transport option, thanks to their environmental benefits, lower running costs and ever-improving range of models.
There are new electric vehicle announcements almost every day, propelling EVs into the mainstream and providing organisations with the diversity of choice required for their business.
Increased choice and rapid advancements in vehicle and charging technology and capability can be difficult to keep up with. We have resources to help you understand what it means for your organisation.
Understanding electric vehicle terms
It can be hard to cut through the jargon of electric vehicles (EVs). Here’s a glossary of EV terms that you might come across.
Internal combustion engine (ICE)
An engine that runs on petroleum fuels.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV)
A vehicle that runs purely on electric power that’s stored in rechargeable battery packs.
Plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV)
A vehicle with an internal combustion engine and a rechargeable battery.
Fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV)
A vehicle that uses hydrogen fuel cells to power the electric motor.
Zero emission vehicle (ZEV)
A vehicle that has zero tail-pipe emissions.
Measurement of electrical current.
Measurement of electromotive force.
Measurement of electrical power.
One thousand watts.
Measurement of energy consumption. One kWh is the equivalent to the energy consumed in one hour by one kW of power. Electric car battery size is measured in kWh.
Measurement of electric charge. An amp-hour is the amount of current a battery can supply for a given period.
Alternating current (AC)
An electric current that changes direction in regular intervals.
Direct current (DC)
An electric current that has constant direction.
The distance an electric vehicle can travel with a fully charged battery.
The term given to the fear of running out of electric charge while driving an electric vehicle.
An energy recovery system that stores some of the energy from the braking of the vehicle.
Ultra low emission zone (ULEZ)
An area in which drivers will pay a daily charge if they enter the zone with a petrol vehicle that doesn’t meet Euro 4 standards or a diesel vehicle that doesn’t meet Euro 6 standards.
Electric vehicles for SMEs
Learn more about the benefits of having an electric vehicle and what you should look for.
Business Case for electric vehicles
How well do EV batteries last?
Towing with an EV
Electric vehicle benefits and grants
There are different benefits to using an EV. And there are also different grants available if you want to buy or use an EV.
Electric cars and vans emit zero tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions. However, their impact on the environment is determined by how ‘green’ the electricity charging them is – in other words, whether the electricity has been generated by renewables or fossil fuels.
Electric vehicles that use electricity from the national grid emit considerably less carbon dioxide per mile than petrol or diesel models, and these emissions will continue to fall as the grid becomes cleaner.
For example, a battery electric car is estimated to have 66% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a petrol car, and around 60% fewer than a diesel car, over its entire lifetime. Between now and 2050, projections show that electricity grid emissions will fall by around 90%, with total greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicles falling in line with this reduction (Source: Road to Zero strategy).
Even considering the emissions associated with manufacturing, electric cars and vans are substantially less environmentally damaging than internal combustion engine (ICE) models and can help organisations meet corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives.
Additionally, electric vehicles emit zero tailpipe air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, helping to improve both local and national air quality. They are also quieter than conventional vehicles, making for a more relaxing drive.
Lower running costs, including the cheaper cost of electricity as a fuel and generally lower servicing costs, can result in significant savings in operating an electric vehicle for organisations, particularly for those driving higher mileages.
Currently, there are a range of financial incentives available to help your organisation purchase and operate EVs. The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) offers grants for vehicles and chargepoints.
EV chargepoint grant – provides funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing electric vehicle smart chargepoints at domestic properties across the UK. The driver must own a flat or live in rented accommodation.
In addition, there are tax benefits for ultra low emission vehicles, as summarised below:
Lower or zero vehicle excise duty (VED). However, from 2025 VED will also be charged on electric vehicles. The first-year rate will still be lower for electric vehicles – only £10 compared to £120-£945 for petrol or diesel vehicles – but after that all vehicles will be charged a standard rate of £165 per year.
Lower company car tax. The class 1A national insurance contributions (NIC) that employers have to pay is significantly lower than with ICE company cars (as company car tax only applies to the employee).
No fuel benefit charge and no benefit in kind liability for electricity provided by an employer to charge employees’ own electric vehicles (since April 2018).
Businesses buying cars can write down 100% of the purchase price against their corporation tax liability if the vehicle emits no CO2 (fully electric).
Zero emission vans are eligible for the Plug-in Van Grant or the First Year Allowance, and drivers pay no van benefit charge.
Advisory electricity rate – pure electric company car drivers can claim 9p/mile for business use. This is usually updated quarterly.
VAT is charged at 5% on domestic electricity, but is 20% for commercial electricity.
Ultra low emission vehicles are also compliant with clean air zone standards and zero emission vehicles are entitled to a 100% discount until December 2025 on the London congestion charge (cleaner vehicle discount, see TfL for details). From 25 December 2025, the cleaner vehicle discount will be discontinued, and all vehicle owners, unless in receipt of another discount or exemption, will need to pay to enter the Congestion Charge zone during charging hours
Electric vehicle information
Take a look at our travel & transport video series for more information on how to use electric vehicles.