If you are on this site as part of your research into buying a Tesla, you undoubtedly have or will come upon a bunch of new terminology that you may find intimidating and make you question what you are getting into. Well, fear no more because on this page we will attempt to ease those fears by translating “EV speak” into English……. 🙂
“Energy Usage”: This is referring to the amount of battery power being used, which you can simply think of it as how much gasoline your car is using.
“kWh”: Like on your home electric bill, this is the unit of measurement for electricity. When you read or see a reference to a battery being 90kWh, that is the amount of energy that battery can hold. Just as every gasoline car’s gas tank holds differenting amounts of gas, each Tesla models’ battery can hold different amounts of energy (kWh).
“Wh/mi”: This is watt hours per mile. Basically it is an EV’s MPG. So if in the past you shopped for a gasoline car based on its MPG rating, with an EV you would look at EVs based on its Wh/mi rating. This rating is often referred to as the car’s energy usage/efficiency and will also be displayed as MPGe, which is its equivalent MPG rating.
“ICE”: Within the EV “world/community”, this stands for Internal Combustion Engine.
“Regenerative Braking”: Despite what you may be thinking, this has nothing to do with the brakes. In a Tesla, when you lift off the accelerator, the car will immediately start slowing down. The faster you lift off the accelerator, the faster the car slows down. If you have ever driven a manual transmission car, this is akin to “engine braking” to slow the car down. However, in an EV it is the resistance of the motor not wanting to turn that slows the car down and charges the battery.
“Level 1 Charging/charger”: This is basically you plugging your car into a standard 120V outlet at home. This will add about 4 miles of range per hour, to your battery.
“Level 2 Charging/charger”: This is the most common public AC charging. With there being so many variables with regard to charging speeds, it’s futile to explain them all. Just know that these are not as fast as DC charging. Plugging into a NEMA 14-50 outlet (similar to a dryer outlet) at home is considered Level 2 charging. This will add anywhere between 29 to 40 miles of range per hour.
“Level 3 Charging/charger”: This is referring to DC fast charging. Tesla’s Superchargers are DC chargers. The reason these charge a lot faster is because the electricity by-passes the charger in your car and goes straight into the battery.
“Onboard Charger”: This is the charger in your car. Simply put, this converts the AC coming from your house, into DC current which all batteries need. It is this conversion that makes charging at home slower.
“Home Charger”: Despite what you have read or think, you do not need to buy any special charging equipment to charge your Tesla at home. You can literally charge your car by plugging into a simple 120v outlet, because the charger is built into the car. Tesla does sell what people mistakenly call a “Tesla charger”, which is actually a High Power Wall Connector (HPWC). What you gain by buying/installing a HPWC is that is charges much faster than the standard 120v outlet and that it comes with its own cable. This way you can leave your car’s charging cable, in your car.
“J1772”: This is a type of connector used on public AC chargers.
“NEMA 14-50”: This is a type of outlet that most Tesla owners get installed in their homes. It is similar to the outlet behind your dryer, except it is rated for 240v/50 amps. On a Tesla this will add at least 29 miles of range per hour, to your battery.
On the subject of adding miles and charging times, don’t listen to most of what you have heard about how long it takes to charge an EV. Often you will hear that it takes all night to charge up an EV, but that is only if you run the battery down to near empty before charging it. What those reviewers of EVs don’t tell you is that these are not gas cars that you run empty before refilling. With an EV, when you come home each day, you plug it in. Essentially you are always topping the battery off much like you do with your cell phone. So as mentioned above, a Tesla will charge at the rate of at least 29 miles of range per hour using a 240v/50A outlet. So, if you drove 60 miles in the day, came home at 6 pm, the car would be done charging at basically 8 pm. It takes all of 5 seconds to plug the car in and then in the morning, 5 seconds to unplug.
Tesla “Autopilot” and “FSD”: Many people often confuse or misunderstand what Tesla’s Autopilot, aka AP, does/was designed for. Autopilot is a driver’s aide that handles keeping your car centered in the lane and maintain the distance between you and the car in front of you. While you can do this without your hands on the wheel, the AP system will periodically prompt you to tug on the wheel slightly so that it knows that you are paying attention. Yes the car is driving itself, but you have to always be paying attention and ready to take over the steering if needed. So it is best to have at least one hand on the wheel. Full Self Driving, aka FSD, in it’s current form is also a driver’s aide but can handle more things like automatic lane change, follow the route instructions in the navigation system, handle driving around town, even with stop signs and lights. Again though, you as a driver have to be paying attention. Too often people think that the car is self driving and they can just nod off to sleep. That is not the case.