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e-glossary for electromobility, pictogram, book, lightbulb, blue

Your e-glossary

What do terms like BEV, recuperation or Well-to-Wheel mean? Here are the most important terms used in the world of electromobility.


Battery Electric Vehicle, a vehicle which is powered exclusively by battery power.

Blue Motion
Product label highlighting the most fuel economical model of each series in the Volkswagen brand. 

Carbon dioxide, a colourless and odourless gas produced by combustion processes. CO2 is the main cause of the greenhouse effect and climate change. The CO2 proportion of greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 alone was 88 percent.

Car-to-Car communication

Direct exchange of data and information between vehicles to enhance road safety and improve the flow of traffic in the future.

Car-to-X communication
Future communication between vehicles and their environment with the aim of avoiding accidents and traffic jams.

Cycle strength
Number of charging and discharging cycles experienced by a battery before its capacity drops below a defined percentage of the original capacity. Volkswagen uses lithium-ion batteries that are not subject to memory effect, are not damaged by daily charging, and only experience marginal automatic discharging. High-quality components ensure that batteries remain fully functional for the entire lifecycle of the vehicle. This is why Volkswagen gives an eight-year warranty on its high-volt baterries. They can be charged many thousands of times in this period. 

Shrinking the volume of the engine at the same time as boosting the specific power or the torque density, such as by turbocharging. Downsizing reduces fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. 


Dual clutch gearbox (DSG)
Automatic gear shifting which uses two sub-gearboxes for fully automatic gear changing without any palpable interruption in traction.

Electric car / e-car / e-vehicle
Cars which instead of being powered by fuel are energised by electricity. When looked at more precisely, the term is a general name for both the battery electric vehicle, as well as the »fuel cell vehicle, depending on the different type of energy storage. The term “electric car” is almost always conventionally understood as being the battery electric vehicle powered exclusively by electricity (» BEV).

Electrification of the drive train
Successive entry into use of electric motors as tomorrow’s alternative traction source. It starts with the optimisation of conventional internal combustion engines using » Recuperation (» Micro Hybrid) through the development of various hybrid systems (» Full Hybrid, » Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) all the way to » BEV which is the ultimative objective.

Expulsion of substances or types of energy into the environment. The main emissions from road traffic are carbon monoxide (CO), nitric oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydrocarbons (HC) and » CO2. Diesel engines are also associated with emissions of particles (soot, dust). Modern filter systems keep them to a minimum.

Fast charging with CCS
Unlike standard charging with alternating current, which is usually done via wall box or quick-charging cable and which can take up to four to eight hours, fast charging can be completed within 20 – 30 minutes using specially configured charging stations with direct current. Around 80 percent of the capacity can be recharged in this way. The Combined Charging System (CCS) may be used, which has become a successful standard in many auto brands. Another option in the future is recharging electric vehicles wirelessly using induction technology.

Fuel cell vehicle
Vehicle with electric drive for which the electric energy is generated by a fuel cell from either hydrogen or methanol as the energy carriers. The only emissions generated locally are water vapors. That is why the fuel cell vehicle is a one of the potential power concepts of the future for Volkswagen.

Full Hybrid
Vehicles characterised by the ability to be driven with either of the two different drives. In general, the internal combustion engine and the electric motor can also be used in combination to power the vehicle.

Green electricity
Also eco-electricity, power that comes from renewable energy sources or environmentally-compatible co-generation power plants: physically indistinguishable from “grey” electricity.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
Vehicles which combine at least two drive concepts – one internal combustion engine and one electric motor. The term hybrid can be interpreted in various ways because hybrid vehicles can be categorised according to the degree of electrification (» Micro Hybrid, » Mild Hybrid, » Full Hybrid and » Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle). Conventionally, however, the term hybrid vehicle is usually understood as the » Full Hybrid.

Fuel cell vehicle

Intermodal transport concept
Transport and traffic concepts involving all types of transport which enable the easy switch from air, bus and rail, electric vehicles, car-sharing services and bicycles.

Internal combustion engine
Engine which derives its power from converting chemical energy bound up in fuel into heat, and converting this heat into mechanical work. The conversion into heat is achieved by burning fuels which mainly consist of hydrocarbons.

Lightweight construction
Construction technology aimed at achieving maximum weight savings. In addition to the drive system, lightweight construction is the most effective means of saving fuel and reducing emissions.

Lithium-ion battery
Battery with very high energy density, thermal stability and almost no » Memory effect. These benefits are why Volkswagen uses this technology.

Memory effect
Capacity losses associated with some types of battery which have not been completely discharged before they are recharged. It is assumed that the battery “recognises” the energy requirement so that over a period of time, instead of making available the original full capacity, it only makes available the energy associated with the previous charging processes.

Micro Hybrids
Not a real hybrid vehicle in the strict sense, but only a further development of the internal combustion engine. Micro Hybrids save fuel using the » Start-Stop automatic system or recover the energy created by braking (» Recuperation), and feed this energy back into the car battery to relieve the generator. Because of this partial electrification, however, they can be included amongst the broader definition of » Hybrid vehicles. However, a Micro Hybrid does not have an e-motor.

Mild Hybrid
Vehicles whose electrical components only account for a small proportion of the drive concept. They do, however, have an increased level of electrification compared to a » Micro Hybrid because they have their own battery and e-motor. However, unlike a » Full Hybrid, the Mild Hybrid cannot be driven by the electric motor alone. This only backs up the internal combustion engine. This is why Volkswagen is using Full Hybrid technology.

Modular strategy
Volkswagen product development and production concept in which selected components can be used in different model classes. The resulting synergy potential is harnessed in various ways, including cutting development and procurement costs.

MQB means Modular Transverse Matrix, and it is Volkswagen’s product development and production concept for transverse-mounted motor and drive systems. The motor’s crankshaft is transverse to the direction of travel, or parallel to the wheel axes. Most front-wheel drive vehicles are built this way. On the production line, vehicle models from one series are assembled from modules, which can be combined differently. This building block principle gives more flexibility for the design of vehicles, in areas such as its wheelbase or track width. Newly developed motor families are especially optimised for a reduction of CO2 emissions. Intelligent mixtures of high-strength steel, plus modern construction principles, mean that modular components offer more safety and comfort without additional weight. MQB has produced about 20 different innovations for all Volkswagen models in the areas of safety, driver assistance and infotainment. These innovations have traditionally only been available for more expensive models. Through synergies, MQB also allows for cost savings in development and procurement.

Peak oil
Point at which global oil production reaches its maximum and then declines every year. The International Engery Agency estimates that this point will be reached in 2020. As oil becomes more scarce, petrol and diesel fuel will become more expensive. This is one of the reasons alternative drive technologies are needed. 

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, vehicle with a combined internal combustion engine and electric motor, and whose battery can be charged up via a plug, unlike the » Full Hybrid, whose battery can only be charged up by » Recuperation. Plug-in Hybrids can also drive much longer in pure electric mode. Plug-in Hybrids can travel about 50 kilometres under pure electric power, and for longer distances, the internal combustion motor engages. They are ideal for people who need a vehicle for the city, and for longer trips.

Post-lithium-ion battery

Successor technology to today’s » Lithium-ion batteries. For example open systems, such as zinc-air batteries, with much higher energy densities (> 500 kilowatt hours), which may open up long distance electromobility at some time in the future.

Recovering the kinetic energy released during braking or during overrun mode. In e-vehicles, this is usually done by switching over the drive motor to generator mode and then feeding the electricity which is generated into the vehicle battery, where it is stored for later use. For physical reasons, only part of the braking energy can be recuperated.

Smart Grid
Intelligent power grid which utilises modern information and communications technology for purposes such as integrating decentrally generated energy, to optimise load management, and for energy management by the customer. The aim is to safeguard energy supplies by setting up an efficient and reliable system.


Start-Stop automatic
System for reducing the fuel consumption of cars. The internal combustion engine is stopped by the braking force of the generator and shutting off the fuel lines when the car is rolling to a stop or standing in a traffic jam. It restarts fully automatically when the driver presses on the accelerator pedal or releases the brake. Fuel-saving potential particularly in urban traffic characterised by many stops and starts.

cf. » Well-to-Wheel.


At Volkswagen TDI refers to diesel vehicles with direct fuel injection and turbocharging. Characteristics of a TDI motor include fuel economy, low emissions, high torque, and excellent performance. TDI is a registered trademark of Volkswagen AG in many countries. 

Think Blue
Volkswagen’s initiative for environmentally compatible mobility and sustainability. The name is a modification of the Think Small slogan which accompanied the success story of the Volkswagen Beetle in the 1960s. Unlike the strategy at the time of giving as many people as possible access to individual mobility, Think Blue promotes the transition to more environmentally compatible mobility and lifestyles. More about Think Blue

Designation of a type of engine which encompasses all of the single and double turbo-charged direct injection petrol engines in Volkswagen vehicles. The term encompasses a range of turbo charging types, cylinder capacities and future cylinder numbers and arrangements. With its TSI technology, Volkswagen has succeeded in building engines which, by reducing fuel consumption, offer many advantages, as well as being desirable because of their effortless power output.

Concepts in which e-vehicle batteries are used as grid buffer storages. When needed, energy is withdrawn from the fleet of electric vehicles and fed back into the grid. This can make sense in the context of effective load and storage management with the aim of, for example, compensating for fluctuations in the output of renewable energy sources. Today's batteries are not fully ready for this. An e-car would also require a costly bidirectional charger before it could resupply power. Also, conversion losses in the transformation of direct current (battery) to alternating current (grid) would have to be minimised. At the moment, a “light version” is conceivable, which does not resupply the grid but still has great benefits for the enviroment.

cf. » Well-to-Wheel

Total energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of a fuel associated with its production, transport and use. In the case of crude oil, this starts with the oil well and goes via the refinery, filling station network and vehicle tank, before it can be used to power the vehicle. This analysis is divided into two steps: the well-to-tank path describes the provision of the fuel, and the tank-to-wheel path describes the use of the fuel in the vehicle.

Zero-emissions vehicle
A vehicle (ZEV for short) that emits no toxic gases during operations and satisfies the so-called zero- emissions limits. To count as a zero-emissions vehicle in the overall energy balance though, the electric power used to run the vehicle must have been sourced from renewable energies.