We aim to cut through the acronyms and jargon that can surround the industry.
This is a living page, so if you’ can’t find something, please tell us here and we’ll add it!
We’ve included a short explanation of each term and links to authoritative sources.
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Note: These definitions are within the context of innovation and technology in transport. Other definitions may be applicable when used in other contexts
Latest update: 14/10/20
3D printing – A printing process that builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model, usually by successively adding material layer by layer, which is why it is also called additive manufacturing.
A key advantage of 3D printing is the ability to produce very complex shapes or geometries. It is unlike conventional machining, casting and forging processes, where material is removed from a stock item (subtractive manufacturing) or poured into a mould and shaped by means of dies, presses and hammers.
The term 3D printing covers a variety of processes in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional (3D) object, with material being added together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains fused together), typically layer by layer.
Developed in the 1990s, 3D-printing techniques have now developed so that the precision, repeatability and material range have increased to a point where some 3D-printing processes are viable as for industrial-production. For example, parts for vehicles are printed where either volume production is too expensive (such as passenger vehicle seat-back hand holds), or as an alternative to holding stock of expensive or slow-moving items; a pioneer in this field in 2018 was Mercedes-Benz for truck, coach and bus parts.
additive manufacturing – The process of building a three-dimensional object, one thin layer at a time. 3D printing is one category of additive manufacturing, though the two terms are frequently considered to mean the same thing – see 3D printing
aftermarket parts – Parts made by companies other than original equipment manufacturers. They may be installed on a vehicle as replacements, and do not necessarily match the manufacturers’ technical specification. Parts that look similar, but may have a different technical specification are pattern parts. These tend to be most common for body panels.
aggregated data – Data aggregation is any process in which information is gathered and expressed in a summary form, for purposes such as statistical analysis. A common aggregation purpose is to get more information about particular groups, based on specific variables such as age, profession, or income.
AIR Index – The AIR (Allow Independent Road-testing) alliance has developed The AIR Index, an independent on-road vehicle emissions test and rating system to help consumers, policy makers and fleet managers make informed choices about vehicles. More details at www.allowair.org
algae – Algae links with Anaerobic Digestion in several possible ways as pre- or post-treatment with the heat or electricity from the Anaerobic Digestion plant running this additional process.
algorithm – A finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are always unambiguous and are used as specifications for performing calculations, data processing, automated reasoning, and other tasks. See also artificial intelligence.
alternative fuel – Generic term used for fuel made from non-fossil sources
anaerobic digester/anaerobic digestion – Anaerobic digestion is the simple, natural breakdown of organic matter – including algae – into biogas (carbon dioxide and methane) and organic fertiliser called digestate. It is a similar process to that which takes place in the stomach of a cow. More details at adbioresources.org
anonymised data – Data in a format that has been totally stripped of all information about individuals. It is the process of either encrypting or removing personally identifiable information from data sets, so that the people whom the data describe remain anonymous. See also depersonalised data
Application Programming Interface (API) – An interface or communication protocol between a client and a server intended to simplify the building of client-side software. It is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Each time you use an app like Facebook, send an instant message, or check the weather on your phone, you’re using an API. It has been described as a ‘contract’ between the client and the server, such that if the client makes a request in a specific format, it will always get a response in a specific format or initiate a defined action. An API may be for a web-based system, operating system, database system, computer hardware, or software library.
artificial intelligence (AI) – Sometimes called machine intelligence or machine learning, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals. It applies to any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximise its chance of successfully achieving its goals. AI often revolves around the use of algorithms.
Colloquially, the term is often used to describe machines (or computers) that mimic cognitive functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as learning and problem solving.
As machines become increasingly capable, tasks considered to require ‘intelligence’ are often removed from the definition of AI, a phenomenon known as the AI effect. A quip in Tesler’s Theorem says “AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.” For example, optical character recognition (OCR) is frequently excluded from things considered to be AI, having become a routine technology. Modern machine capabilities generally classified as AI include understanding human speech, autonomously operatingvehicles and intelligent routing indelivery networks.
augmented reality (AR) – An interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, including visual and sound.
Autogas – see liquified petroleum gas
Auto-ID – see automatic identification and data capture (AIDC)
Automatic Data Capture – see automatic identification and data capture (AIDC)
automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) – Methods of automatically identifying objects, collecting data about them, and entering them directly into computer systems, without human involvement. Technologies part of AIDC include QR codes, bar codes, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), biometric security (e.g. iris and facial recognition systems), magnetic stripes, Optical character recognition (OCR), smart cards, and voice recognition. AIDC is also commonly referred to as Automatic Identification, Auto-ID and Automatic Data Capture.
autonomous – Independent and having the power to make its own decisions
autonomous vehicles (AV) – Colloquially referred to as ‘driverless’ vehicles, they are in fact ones that have a degree of automation, and in certain cases are ‘driverless’.
Autonomous Levels 1-5 – These are specific levels of automation of vehicles, and the levels apply irrespective of the type of vehicle. With greater production quantities and smaller vehicles, many advances have been made first in cars, but are now being applied to vans, trucks, coaches and buses. Automation in production vehicles was first seen in the late-1990s when Mercedes-Benz pioneered radar-managed cruise control, that automatically maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Honda introduced lane-keep assist in 2008 with the Legend car.
- Autonomous Level 1: A single aspect is automated, such as lane-keep assist, or auto (adaptive) cruise control. The driver is still in control.
- Autonomous Level 2: Two or more driving elements are automated, such as lane-change mode or self-parking. The driver is still in control.
This is now commonplace in many cars where computers take over multiple functions from the driver, and are intelligent enough to work speed and steering together using multiple data sources. For example, the latest Mercedes S-Class takes over directional, throttle and brake functions for one of the most advanced cruise control systems yet seen, using detailed sat-nav data to brake automatically for corners ahead, keeping a set distance from the car in front and setting off again when jams clear, without the need for driver intervention.
- Autonomous Level 3: Highly automated, where the vehicle can control safety-critical functions. It includes the use of a range of sensors and algorithms. The driver is still on standby, but can be hands-off for periods of time.
This ‘conditional automation’ is a specific mode that lets all aspects of driving be done, but crucially the driver must be on hand to respond to a request to intervene. Audi calls its new A8 a ‘Level 3 ready autonomous car ‘ meaning the car has the potential to drive itself in certain circumstances, where it will assume control of all safety-critical functions. Level 3 vehicles do this by refining maps, radar and sensors and fusing this environmental data with ever-wiser and faster processors and logic.
- Autonomous Level 4: Fully autonomous in controlled areas. With genuine hands-off driving, it can be applied to driverless vehicles and shared pods.
In 2020 Stagecoach will introduce six Level 4 buses in the UK to run on a 15-miles route from the Ferrytoll Park & Ride, across the Forth Bridge and into Edinburgh using Level 4 automation. However, to comply with current UK road laws – and for public reassurance – a ‘safety driver’ will sit behind the wheel ready to intervene if necessary. It is expected that cars will again lead the way from the early 2020s, when they will fully drive themselves in geo-fenced metropolitan areas, as HD mapping, more timely data, car-to-car communications and off-site call centres (to deal with unusual hazards) improve accuracy. Already, 20 carmakers say they’ll sell autonomous cars in the USA by 2022.
- Autonomous Level 5: Fully autonomous, anywhere and the driver, steering wheel (and even the driving position) will be optional. Full automation doesn’t require the vehicle to be in the so-called ‘operational design domain’.
Rather than working in a carefully managed (usually urban) environment with lots of dedicated lane markings or infrastructure, it’ll be able to self-drive anywhere. The frequency and volume of data, and the sophistication of the computers crunching it, will mean the vehicles are sentient. It’s a brave new world and one that Google’s Waymo car is gunning for, leapfrogging traditional manufacturers’ efforts. It’s a world where car-pooling in cities has the potential to remove the need to own a car, and it could also put taxi drivers out of a job. The disruption could be huge: analysts HIS forecast 21m autonomous vehicles globally by 2035.
Benefit-to-Cost Ratio (BCR) – An indicator, used in cost-benefit analysis, that attempts to summarize the overall value for money of a project or proposal. A BCR is the ratio of the benefits of a project or proposal, expressed in monetary terms, relative to its costs, also expressed in monetary terms. Frequently used in public infrastructure projects to assess the ‘return on investment’ as they don’t generate direct revenue. Conversely, it can also be used to establish safety measures, using a fixed price for injury – such as one human road death.
battery electric vehicle (BEV) – An electric vehicle powered solely by batteries on board. This are re-charged from plug-in charge points
bio-diesel – Bio-diesel refers to a vegetable oil or animal fat-based diesel fuel. Bio-diesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids (e.g., vegetable oil, soybean oil, animal fat) with an alcohol producing fatty acid esters. Bio-diesel is a ‘drop-in’ bio-fuel meant to be used in standard diesel engines and is distinct from the vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines. Bio-diesel can be used alone, or blended with fossil diesel in any proportions.
bio-ethanol – Ethanol fuel is ethyl alcohol, the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, used as fuel. It is most used as a bio-fuel additive for petrol. Ethanol is commonly made from biomass such as corn or sugarcane/beet, but can be made from wood.
bio-fuel – A fuel made from non-fossil fuels. i.e not coal, crude/heavy oil or natural gas.
bio-gas – The product of an anaerobic digester that turns organic matter – including waste – into a gas that can be burned to produce heat and electricity. Bio-methane is upgraded bio-gas (by ‘cleaning it up – a process that also reduces its water content) that can be used as a vehicle fuel, or injected into the national gas network grid. In the future bio-gas could be used as a source of other gases such as hydrogen or carbon dioxide (CO2), that could potentially have higher market values than bio-gas and bio-methane.
bio-mechanical assistance – A term sometimes used in the context of electric (e-cargo) cycles and tri-cycles used on last-mile deliveries, it refers to a person pedalling as well as an electric motor.
bio-methanol – Methanol fuel is a bio-fuel, either in combination with petrol or independently. Methanol is less expensive to produce sustainably than ethanol fuel, although it is generally more toxic and has lower energy density. For optimising engine performance and fuel availability, however, a blend of ethanol, methanol and petroleum is likely to be preferable to using any of these alone. Methanol may be made from hydrocarbon or renewable resources, in particular natural gas and biomass respectively. It can also be synthesised from CO2 (carbon dioxide) and hydrogen.
biomethane – A naturally occurring gas produced by anaerobic digestion of organic matter, and can be used (when compressed) in road transport using a (spark) gas internal combustion engine, that will also burn compressed natural gas (CNG).
bioplastics – Volatile fatty acids produced during the Anaerobic Digestion process can be used to make bioplastics that can be used in packaging, reducing dependence on oil-based plastics and potentially closing the loop
British Isles – The geological group of islands, comprising the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Isle of Man; that is most commonly called ‘Britain and Ireland’.
Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) – A grant paid to operators of eligible bus services and community transport organisations to help them recover some of their fuel costs. The amount each bus operator receives is based on its annual fuel consumption (although there are different grant mechanisms in England, Scotland and Wales). BSOG aims to benefit passengers by keeping fares down and enabling operators to run services that might otherwise be unprofitable and could lead to withdrawal.
Camera Monitoring System (CMS) – Also known as e-mirrors, smart mirrors, or digital mirrors, they provide the function of conventional glass mirrors but use external cameras and internal displays, positioned inside the vehicle on the A-pillar, or where a driver would expect to see a mirror. They remove the need for large mirrors on a vehicle that are prone to damage and cause aerodynamic drag, while providing much better quality images at night and in poor weather. They are now available as optional extras on many vehicles – cars, buses, coaches, truck and vans – and are now permitted in the EU as a result of updated legislation. CMS are mandatory on all new buses delivered for use on Transport for London contracts from 2020.
Car2X-Communication Infrastructure (Car2X) – Initially created as a first step to implement Smart Cities technological solutions for road safety, by linking roadside infrastructure to vehicles. It has now developed to a system where vehicles automatically communicate with roadside infrastructure to advise of hazards. Signals from the traffic infrastructure and information from other vehicles (typically up to 800m away) are notified to the driver via a display. These warnings are also shared with other vehicles connected with Car2X. This automatic communication and passing of information is known as swarm intelligence. See also V2X.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – The process of capturing waste carbon dioxide usually from large single-point sources, such as a cement factory or biomass power plant, transporting it to a storage site, normally an underground geological formation, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere.
carbon dioxide – see CO2
carbon dioxide removal (CDR) – or carbon sequestration is the long-term removal, capture or sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow or reverse atmospheric CO2 pollution and to mitigate or reverse global warming.
carbon dioxide equivalent – see CO2e
carbon neutral/neutrality – see net zero emissions
carbon sequestration – see carbon dioxide removal
Catapult – The Catapult Programme. The government-backed Catapult centres are a network of 10 world-leading centres designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas – including Transport Systems, Future Cities, Energy Systems and High-Value Manufacturing – and help drive future economic growth.
They are a series of physical centres where the very best of the UK’s businesses, scientists and engineers work side by side on late-stage research and development – transforming high potential ideas into new products and services to generate economic growth. The Catapult network was established by Innovate UK (the government’s Innovation Agency) and is one of the ways it supports innovation by UK business. Hundreds of thousands of businesses in the UK are hungry for growth and capable of bringing brilliant new products and services to market.
However, only a few have all the resources, expertise, equipment or contacts they need to develop their ideas into new products and services. The Catapult vision is to bridge the gap between these ambitious businesses and the expertise of the UK’s world-class research communities. Catapult centres are there for all businesses – large and small – looking to undertake late stage research and development and commercialise traditional academic research.
Each Catapult centre does this by providing access to expert technical capabilities, equipment, and other resources required to take innovative ideas from concept to reality. Find out more: catapult.org.uk
CBM – Compressed Biomethane – see biomethane
CFCs – Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are fully or partly halogenated paraffin hydrocarbons that contain only carbon (C), hydrogen (H), chlorine (Cl), and fluorine (F), produced as volatile derivative of methane, ethane, and propane. They are also commonly known by the DuPont brand name Freon.
The most common representative is dichlorodifluoromethane (R-12 or Freon-12). Many CFCs have been widely used as refrigerants, propellants (in aerosol applications), and solvents.
Because CFCs contribute to ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere, the manufacture of such compounds has been phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, and are replaced with other products such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) including R-410A and R-134a.
CH4 – The chemical formula for methane – see methane
chargepoint – A single standalone point for charging the batteries of an electric vehicle (EV). Normally linked to the vehicle by a cable, it can be home-based or in a public area. Unlike filling stations, which are counted per site, a chargepoint is a single vehicle connection, in the same way that parking spaces are counted individually. In January 2018, the UK had 19,108 public charging points at 6,703 locations, of which 4,391 were rapid charging points at 1,332 locations.
According to UK’s National Chargepoint Registry, there are over 25 network operators (charge point owners, branded networks, such as POLAR and charge point controllers, such as Chargemaster) at a national and regional basis. The UK also has nine regional operators: Source London, Source East, Source West, ChargePlace Scotland, Energise (for the South-East), Plugged-In Midlands, Greater Manchester EV, ChargerNet (for Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole) and eCar (Northern Ireland).
Many companies, local and regional authorise also provide charging to employees and members of the public.
All publicly-funded chargepoints are on the National Chargepoint Registry (NCR) established by the UK Government in 2011 to provide a public database of publicly-funded chargepoints across the UK in support of the Government’s objective to promote the use and sales of Ultra Low Emission vehicles (ULEVs).Visit/search the register at www.national-charge-point-registry.uk
Clean Air Zone (CAZ) – An area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality. It can be confined to a single road or a part of a city (for which areas of the UK are considering or decided to introduce a CAZ).
Climate Crisis – A term describing global warming and climate change, and their consequences. The term is used to describe the threat of global warming to the planet, and to urge aggressive climate change mitigation. Research by an advertising consulting agency in New York found that the term invokes a strong emotional response in conveying a sense of urgency. Some caution that this response may be counter-productive, and may cause a backlash effect due to perceptions of alarmist exaggeration; In 2009 this view was set out in a paper by Patrick Hodder and Brian Martin of the University of Wollongong, Australia.
Climate Emergency – A climate emergency declaration or declaring a state of climate emergency, is a strategy used by governments and scientists to acknowledge humanity is in a climate emergency. The first declaration was made in December 2016. Since then 1,250 local governments and 25 countries have made climate emergency declarations (as of 5 January 2020).
Once a government makes a declaration, the next step is to set priorities to mitigate climate change, prior to ultimately entering a state of emergency or equivalent. In declaring a climate emergency, a national or local government admits that global warming exists and that the measures taken up to this point are not enough to limit the changes brought by it. The decision stresses the need for the government and administrations to devise measures that try to stop human-caused global warming.
climate neutrality – see net zero emissions
CNG – see compressed natural gas
combined heat and power (CHP) – Often uses biogas directly from an anaerobic digester.
compressed natural gas (CNG) -Typically grid gas – used as a fuel in gas internal combustion engine.
connected vehicles – Vehicles equipped with Internet access, and usually also with a wireless local area network (LAN). This allows the vehicle to share internet access, and hence data, with other devices both inside and outside the vehicle. It can also use the Car2X Communication infrastructure to connect with other vehicles.
contract hire – A vehicle leasing finance option, available to sole traders, partnerships and limited companies. VAT registered companies are able to claim back 50% of the VAT on cars and 100% on vans. Contract hire allows the company to focus on their operations without having to think about the financial risk of owning vehicles. It is an agreement between two parties to lease a vehicle for a set time period (and mileage) at a fixed monthly cost. The monthly rental amount is based upon the original cost of the vehicle, the mileage that is to be covered and the length of the contract – typically two, three or four years. An allowance for depreciation is also factored in to the monthly cost. Maintenance packages can often be included within a contract hire agreement but these are optional, not compulsory. Such maintenance packages would typically provide cover for all servicing within the period of the contract.
CO2 – Carbon dioxide (chemical formula CO2) is a colourless gas with a density about 60% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide consists of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth’s atmosphere as a trace gas.
The current concentration is about 0.04% (412ppm – parts per million) by volume, having risen from pre-industrial levels of 280ppm. Carbon dioxide is the most significant long-lived greenhouse gas in Earth’satmosphere.
Since the Industrial Revolution anthropogenic emissions – primarily from use of fossil fuels and deforestation – have rapidly increased its concentration in the atmosphere, leading to global warming.
Carbon dioxide also causes ocean acidification because it dissolves in water to form carbonic acid.
CO2e – Carbon dioxide equivalent (CDE) and equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e and CO2eq) are two related but distinct measures for estimating how much global warming a given type and amount of greenhouse gas may cause, using the functionally equivalent amount or concentration of carbondioxide (CO2) as the reference. CO2e calculations depend on the time-scale chosen, typically 100 years but occasionally 20 years or less. They also depend on assumptions about the amount of time a given pollutant will remain in the atmosphere, which rely on other assumptions such as the amount of natural carbon sequestration that will occur in the future.
CO2eq – see CO2e
COP – The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN’s climate body, holds an annual summit known as a COPor Conference of the Parties, attended by national ministers and, for the key ones, heads of state. All of the world’s countries are ‘parties to the Convention’, and the COP is its supreme decision-making body. The meetings are numbered in order. For example the 2020 meeting is COP26, scheduled to be held in Glasgow on 9-10 November 2020.
COP21 – see Paris Agreement
data aggregation – see aggregated data
data blob – A Binary Large OBject (known as data blob) is a collection of binary data stored as a single entity in a database management system. Blobs are typically images, audio or other multimedia objects, though sometimes binary executable code is stored as a blob. Database support for blobs is not universal.
data lake – A system or repository of data stored in its natural/raw format, usually data blobs (a Binary Large OBject). A data lake is usually a single store of data including raw copies of source system data, sensor data, social data etc and transformed data used for tasks such as reporting, visualisation, advanced analytics and machine learning. A data lake can include structured data from relational databases (rows and columns), semi-structured data (CSV, logs, XML, JSON), unstructured data (emails, documents, PDFs) and binary data (images, audio, video). A data lake can be established ‘on premises’ (within an organisation’s data centre) or ‘in the cloud’ (using cloud services from vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft, or Google).
data mining – The process of discovering patterns in large data sets. It involves methods at the intersection of machine learning, statistics, and database systems.
data swamp – A deteriorated and unmanaged data lake that is either inaccessible to its intended users or is providing little value.
decarbonisation – Action to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide put into in the atmosphere. Climate change is recognised as the most serious and threatening global environmental problem. There is scientific agreement that humans are contributing to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) as a result of using fossil fuels (coal, gas, and oil products) that release carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned.
depersonalised data – Data in a format where it is not possible to identify any specific person. It is used when data is being transferred from one organisation to another, such as wifi usage, and where an individual travelled while using the wifi connection. Depersonalised data will show that it is from an individual, but not whom. See also anonymised data
dieselgate -The Volkswagen emissions scandal, also known as ‘Dieselgate’ or ‘Emissionsgate’, began in September 2015, when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen Group.
The agency had found that Volkswagen had deliberately programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing so that the vehicles’ nitrogen oxides (NOx) output met US standards during regulatory testing, but emitted up to 40 times more NOx in real-world driving. Similarly, this ‘software cheating’ also meant the cars breached EU emissions legislation.
Volkswagen deployed its ‘defeat device’ software – which could identify when the car was undergoing test and reduce emissions – in about 11m vehicles worldwide from 2009 to 2015. Of these, 8m were in Europe – including light vans as well as cars – with some models in the Audi, Seat and Skoda ranges also affected, due to VW’s ownership of the brands.
The scandal raised awareness over the higher levels of pollution emitted by all diesel-powered vehicles from a wide range of carmakers, that under real-world driving conditions exceeded legal emission limits. As a result, all new vehicles in the EU now have to be tested using Portable Emissions Measurement Systems (PEMS) to certify their real-world performance. VW recalled all the affected cars and re-programmed their software to achieve better real-world emissions. It was also fined by various countries’ regulators and in some countries, paid compensation to vehicle owners.
diesel particulate filter (DPF) – A device designed to remove dieselparticulatematter or soot from the exhaustgas of a dieselengine. It is fitted as part of the exhaust system. The device needs to be cleaned after a certain period of time. In smaller vehicles, this happens automatically with a ‘regeneration cycle’. In large vehicles, the filter has to be removed for specialist cleaning, to avoid damaging it.
digestate – A stable, nutrient-rich substance that is one of the final products from an anaerobic digester. It can be used for a range of products and purposes: most usefully as a fertiliser, rich in nutrients, but also as feedstock for ethanol production, and in low-grade building materials, like fibreboard.
digital mirrors – See Camera Monitoring System (CMS).
distribution network operators (DNOs) – Companies licensed to distribute electricity in Great Britain by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets. There are 14 licensed geographically defined areas, based on the former area electricity board boundaries, where the distribution network operator distributes electricity from the transmission grid to homes and businesses. Under the Utilities Act 2000 they are prevented from supplying electricity; this is done by a separate electricity supply company, chosen by the consumer, who makes use of the distribution network.
dockless – a term for cycle and small ‘stand-up’ e-scooter hire systems. Unlike the Transport for London-run Santander Cycle Hire scheme, where users collect and deliver cycles to a fixed on-street ‘docking station’, dockless systems mean that the cycle or scooter is left anywhere on a street when not in use.
Mobike (orange livery) and Ofo (yellow) are China-based firms that are now the largest dockless cycle operators, having expanded worldwide. The cycles have an electronic lock, usually integrated with the frame, acting on the rear wheel.
Dockless hire systems are controversial as they can lead to cycles being ‘dumped’ or left in inappropriate places, partially blocking pavements and being an eyesore. For this reason some cities have banned them, or regulated the operators.
Not being locked to a physical point means that dockless cycles and scooters are susceptible to vandalism, as they can be picked up and thrown into rivers and canals. In Manchester the high level of vandalism (10% of its 2,000 fleet being vandalised each month) was cited by Mobike as the reason for closing its scheme in the city in 2018; notoriously becoming the world’s first city that Mobike withdrew from.
‘drop-in’ bio-fuel – A bio-fuel that is functionally equivalent to a fossil fuel (petrol or diesel) and is fully compatible with existing petroleum infrastructure. ‘drop-in’ bio-fuels require no engine modification of the vehicle. Examples of drop-in bio-fuels include bio-butanol, biodiesel, synthetic paraffinic kerosene, and other synthetic fuels.
duty cycle – The type of work, hours used and mileage of a commercial vehicle. It can be used as a measure of the type of vehicle (light, medium or heavy duty) required for the work. For example a vehicle (such as a scaffolding lorry) that is driven a relatively short distance to a work site and remains there for most of the day, would have a ‘light’ duty cycle. A fully-laden vehicle that spends all day working in an adverse environment (such as a quarry) with constant stops and starts, would be a ‘heavy’ duty cycle as it imposes more wear and tear. See also HGV mileage/duty cycle
e-cargo -Electrically-powered small delivery vehicles, typically cycles and tricycles, where most of the power is delivered by batteries and a small electric motor. Sometimes a boost is given by the driver using pedal power – see bio-mechanical assistance.
electronic ticket machines (ETM) – A computer-controlled machine for issuing transport tickets – typically on buses. Early machines had a ‘module’ inserted that held fares and other data, and would be downloaded to reconcile with the cash taken. Modern ETMs can be updated remotely using SIM cards and/or wireless, and can send other information, such as vehicle position, for use in real time information systems (RTI).
electric vehicle (EV) – A vehicle powered by electricity, usually with an electric motor. The electricity can come from on-board batteries, overhead wires or fuel cells, or other on-board generator (typically petrol or diesel).
electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (EVtol) – Based on drone technology, they are defined as aircraft that are electric, or hybrid electric, with driverless capabilities and the ability to take off and land vertically. Colloquially known as a ‘flying taxi’. The majority of designs are electric and use multiple rotors to minimize noise (due to rotational speed) while providing high system redundancy. Many have completed their first flight.
EMEA – A widely-used shorthand designation meaning Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It is used by institutions and governments, as well as in marketing and business.
E-mirrors – see Camera Monitoring System (CMS)
emissions – General term covering the emission of air pollutants, including from transport, heating and electricity generation
equivalent carbon dioxide – see CO2e
e-scooter – a plug-in electric two-wheel scooter, that has its battery charged when not in use. Available for purchase in many countries – they come as a ‘full-size’ sit-on scooter or a small stand-up version. These have handlebars and a skateboard-like platform to ride on and are used by firms offering on-street hire. Users have to register, then use a mobile phone app to hire the scooter, which is electronically unlocked to enable it to be used. Typically, they are dockless.
eTruck – an electric truck, powered by an electric motor fed by batteries. It can also include a range extender (normally a small petrol engine) connected to a generator to top up the batteries.
FAME – see fatty acid methyl esters
fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) – A type of fatty acid ester derived by transesterification (an organic chemistry process) of fats with methanol. The molecules in biodiesel are primarily FAMEs, usually obtained from vegetable oils by transesterification. They are used to produce detergents and biodiesel. FAMES are typically produced by an alkali-catalyzed reaction between fats and methanol in the presence of base such as sodium hydroxide, sodium methoxide or potassium hydroxide.
One of the reasons for FAME use in biodiesel instead of free fatty acids is to nullify any corrosion that free fatty acids would cause to the metals of engines, production facilities etch. ‘Free fatty acids’ are only mildly acidic, but in time can cause cumulative corrosion unlike their esters. As an improved quality, FAMEs also usually have about 12-15 units higher cetane number than their unesterified counterparts.
Faraday Battery Challenge – see ISCF Faraday Battery Challenge
feedstocks – Material created for use in an anaerobic digester. Growing maize for anaerobic digestion is five to nine times more land-use efficient than growing crops (such as oilseed rape) for biodiesel, and has many other benefits, including recycling nutrients back to the land.
flight shame – In 2017 several Swedes, including musician Staffan Lindberg, biathlete Björn Ferry and climate activist Greta Thunberg, announced that they would give up flying. With this, the concept of ‘flight shame’ or ‘Flygskam’ was born. In Sweden, flight shame has been credited with boosting train travel, leading to the concept of ‘tågsemester’ (literally ‘train holiday’). Proponents say it is motivated both by reducing an individual’s carbon footprint and appreciating the benefits of slow travel, such as meeting new people on the journey. Flight shame may be having a quantifiable effect on consumer transport choices in Sweden, and across Europe. For more details read our Insight analysis here
flocking – see Platooning
Flygskam – see flight shame
flying taxi – See Electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (EVtol).
fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). A type of vehicle that uses compressed hydrogen gas as fuel to generate electric power via a highly efficient energy converter, a fuel cell. The only emission is water vapour from the fuel cell; normally invisible it occasionally can be seen as steam on cool days. The fuel cell transforms the hydrogen directly into electricity to power an electric engine. To perform most efficiently, fuel cells best run at a constant load, so vehicles usually have batteries to store energy for acceleration, and recovered energy during braking. For more details visit h2me.eu/about/fcevs/
geo-fence – A defined real-world geographical area (typically a low emission zone) that has a ‘virtual perimeter’. Using GPS or RFID technology, it enables software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves the area, for example triggering a vehicle to switch to zero-emission mode. Vehicles are pre-programmed with the co-ordinates of the geo-fence, which can make it switch to a slower speed (such as outside schools) or a zero-emission mode (for air quality). A geo-fence can also be used for an area around a vehicle, so that a control room alarm or location alert is sent to device such as a mobile phone, if a vehicle leaves a defined area.
GHG – see greenhouse gas
Global Positioning System (GPS) – Originally NAVSTAR GPS, it is a satellite-based radio-navigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force. It is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) that provides geo-location and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.
For transport, it is used to determine vehicle locations, in conjunction with other equipment. The GPS does not require the user to transmit any data, and it operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception, though these technologies can enhance the usefulness of the GPS positioning information. The GPS provides critical positioning capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver. The latest stage of accuracy enhancement uses the L5 band. GPS receivers released since 2018 that use the L5 band can have much higher accuracy, pinpointing a position to within 300mm.
Go Ultra Low – A joint UK Government and car industry campaign established to help UK organisations and motorists understand the benefits, cost savings and capabilities of electric vehicles www.goultralow.com
GPS – see Global Positioning System
Great Britain – ‘Great Britain’ comprises the nations of England, Scotland and Wales. What is commonly known as the ‘UK’, the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, is the sovereign state. The ‘British Isles’ is the geological group of islands, comprising the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Isle of Man; that is most commonly called ‘Britain and Ireland’.
greenhouse gas (GHG) – A greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect. – the process by which radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without this atmosphere. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone.
grey fleet – The term ‘grey fleet’ refers to personal vehicles are used for business purposes. Often this means employee-owned vehicles that are being regularly used for business travel. Managing a grey fleet can have different time and cost implications than operating with a regular fleet.
hackaton – Also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest, it is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, collaborate intensively on software projects. The goal of a hackathon is to create usable software or hardware with the aim of creating a functioning product by the end of the event. Hackathons tend to have a specific focus, in road transport typically it is subject-related,.
HDV – see Heavy Duty Vehicle
Heavy Duty Vehicle (HDV) – From 2019 European Commission (EC) Regulation 2017/2400 was introduced, setting consistent CO2 emission standards for HDVs – effectively formalising these types of vehicles, compared with light duty vehicles, which were already covered under existing emissions regulations. They are diesel-engined vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 16-tonnes or more, typically trucks, but also including coaches/buses and other plant. Read an official EC study on HDV emissions here
Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV). An older term, still in colloquially in use in the UK to refer to a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes. Vehicles under this limit were ‘light goods vehicles’ (now called light commercial vehicles). It was officially replaced in 1992 with LGV (Large Goods Vehicle), with the harmonisation of driving licences.
HGV – see Heavy Goods Vehicle
HGV mileage/duty cycle – Different types of HGV tend to be used in a great variety of different ways, on different types of roads and at different speeds, reflecting the particular tasks they are used for. To mirror this diversity, but without making things too complicated, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) has developed a set of four test cycles for HGVs, as shown in the table below:
hybrid – A vehicle whose power is derived from more than one source, for example a diesel-electric powered vehicle
hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) – Hydrotreating of vegetable oils is a modern way to produce high-quality bio-based diesel fuels without compromising fuel logistics, engines, exhaust aftertreatment devices, or exhaust emissions. These fuels are also referred to as ‘renewable diesel fuels’ instead of ‘biodiesel’ which is reserved for the fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). Chemically hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVOs) are mixtures of paraffinic hydrocarbons and are free of sulphur and aromatics. Read more here
HVO – see hydrotreated vegetable oil
ICE – Internal combustion engine (usually petrol or diesel)
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) – Overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to bring together the UK’s world leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. The fund was created to provide funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the government’s £4.7bn increase in research and development over the next four years. It was designed to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. It is run by UK Research and Innovation.
infrastructure – The fundamental physical facilities and systems serving a country, city, or other area needed for the operation of a transport system, and for the economy to function. Normally comprising fixed, tangible assets, they may be owned publicly or by companies and include roads, railways, water supplies, energy and communications.
intralogistics – The art of optimising, integrating, automating, and managing the logistical flow of information and goods within a fulfilment or distribution centre.
IoT Internet of Things – A system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines or objects with the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
It includes the convergence of multiple technologies, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems, such as ‘smart’ home devices that can be controlled via devices such as ‘smart speakers’. In transport, dynamic interaction enables inter-vehicular communication, smart traffic control, smart parking, and electronic tolling.
Sensors such as GPS, humidity, and temperature send data to the IoT platform where the data is analysed and sent to the users. When combined with Machine Learning (ML), it helps reducing accidents by introducing drowsiness alerts to drivers and autonomous vehicles.
initial public offering (IPO) – A stock market launch that is a type of public offering in which shares of a company are sold to institutional investors and usually also retail (individual) investors; an IPO is underwritten by one or more investment banks, who also arrange for the shares to be listed on one or more stock.
ISCC – see International Sustainability and Carbon Certification
ISCF Faraday Battery Challenge – The Challenge is to develop and manufacture batteries for the electrification of vehicles – £274m over four years – to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the move to a low carbon economy. The challenge will be split into three elements: research, innovation, and scale-up.
International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) – A global certification system, offering solutions to address the sustainability requirements for all feedstocks and markets, including fuel. www.iscc-system.org
Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) – A commercial vehicle more than 3.5 tonnes. The official EU and UK term for what used to be called a ‘HGV’ Heavy Goods Vehicle, until 1992.
LBM – see Liquid Biomethane
LCGB – see Liquified to Compressed Biogas
LCNG – see Liquefied to Compressed Natural Gas
liquified petroleum gas (LPG) – A flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel in heating, cooking and vehicles. When used as a vehicle fuel in spark-ignition engines (i.e those with a spark-plug) it is often referred to as Autogas.
Varieties of LPG bought and sold include mixes that are mostly propane (C3H8), mostly butane (C4H10), and, most commonly, mixes including propane and butane. In the northern hemisphere winter, the mixes contain more propane, while in summer, they contain more butane.
In some countries, LPG has been used since the 1940s as a petrol alternative for spark ignition engines. Additives extend engine life and the ratio of butane to propane is kept precise in fuel LPG. Worldwide, 16 million vehicles use LPG, about 3% market share. In the UK there are 160,000 LPG-powered vehicles on the road, a 1% market share. There are 1,500 UK refuelling stations selling LPG.
LPG has a lower energy density per litre than either petrol or diesel, so the equivalent fuelconsumption is higher. LPG provides less upper-cylinder lubrication than petrol or diesel, so LPG-fuelled engines are more prone to valve wear if they are not suitably modified. Many modern common-rail diesel engines respond well to LPG as a supplementary fuel, where LPG is used as well as diesel. Modern systems integrate with OEM engine management systems.
Liquified to Compressed Biogas (LCBG) – Biogas can be compressed, the same way as natural gas is compressed to CNG, and used to powervehicles. LCBG describes the industrial process to achieve this – see also LCNG
Liquefied to Compressed Natural Gas (LCNG) – The volume of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is only around 1/600th of the volume of gaseous natural gas. This results in significant advantages where gas transportation is required.
Following liquefaction and transportation, the liquefied natural gas (LNG) is regasified (converted into CNG) with subsequent forwarding to grid gas companies via pipelines.
Compressed natural gas CNG storage is more attractive as cryogenic temperatures (-164 °C to -161°C) and special container alloys are not required; there are no boil-off losses and a pump and a basic heat exchanger are all that are required to convert LNG into CNG. LCNG storage refuelling systems strike a good balance between benefiting from the significant advantages of LNG where its transportation is concerned and making the most of the specific advantages of CNG in terms of storage, distribution and consumption.
Liquid Biomethane (LBM) – Biomethane is converted to a liquid via a cooling process and stored in large cryogenic insulated tanks, prior to transport by road tanker to the dispensing point. Read a Department for Transport report on the subject here
Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) – Vehicle under 3.5t, typically a van or minibus. Prior to the 1992 EU harmonisation of driving licences, vehicles under 3.5 tonnes were called light goods vehicles. Not to be confused with LGV (Large Goods Vehicle).
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) – A surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflected light with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of the target, used in the control and navigation systems of autonomous vehicles.
Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) – The WLTP procedure (world harmonized light-duty vehicles test procedure) is a global, harmonised standard for determining the levels of pollutants, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of traditional and hybrid cars, as well as the range of fully electric vehicles.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) – Natural gas (predominantly methane, CH4, with some mixture of ethane, C2H6) that has been cooled down to liquid form for ease and safety of non-pressurized storage or transport. It takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state.
logistics – The management of the flow of things (typically goods) between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet requirements of customers or corporations. Transport of the goods is just one part of logistics. Logistics management is the part of supply chain management that plans, implements, and controls the efficient, effective forward, and reverse flow and storage of goods, services, and related information between point of origin and point of consumption to meet customer’s requirements.
Low Emission Bus (LEB) – A low emission bus (LEB) is one that operates using efficient technology or alternative fuels rather than just a traditional diesel engine. They are defined by the UK Government as producing 15% less Well-to-Wheel (WTW) emissions compared with an equivalent Euro V standard diesel bus. More details are here. See also Ultra Low Emission Bus (ULEB).
Low Emission Zone (LEZ) – A defined geographical area where access by certain polluting vehicles is restricted or deterred, with the aim of improving air quality. See also ZEZ
LPG – see liquified petroleum gas
MaaS – Mobility as a Service – The integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. It has a menu of transport options, such as bus, ride-sharing, bike-sharing, taxi or car use. A single application provides access to the services with a single payment, instead of multiple ticketing and payment operations. More details at maas-alliance.eu/homepage/what-is-maas/
methane – A chemical compound with the chemical formula CH4 (one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen). The simplest alkane, it is the main constituent of natural gas.
mild hybrid – Petrol or diesel engined vehicles with an electric motor/generator in parallel hybrid configuration. They automatically turn the engine off when the vehicle is coasting, braking, or stopped, and restart quickly. Mild hybrids employ regenerative braking and some level of power assistance to the engine under acceleration, but do not have an exclusive electric-only mode.
machine intelligence (MI) – See machine learning and artificial intelligence
machine learning (ML) – Algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to perform a specific task without explicit instructions, instead relying on patterns and inference. It is seen as a subset of artificial intelligence. Machine learning algorithms build a mathematical model based on sample data, known as “training data”, order to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to perform the task. Machine learning algorithms are used in a wide variety of applications, such as email filtering, where it is difficult to develop a conventional algorithm for effectively performing the task. See also artificial intelligence.
Measurable Scenario Description Language (M-SDL) – Computer language that is fundamental to building a robust ecosystem for verification, validation and measurable safety of autonomous vehicles. It is an open language that addresses multiple shortcomings of today’s formats, languages, methods and metrics used to verify and validate vehicle safety.
N2O – see nitrous oxide
New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) – A laboratory-based driving cycle – established in the 1980s, last updated in 1997 and discontinued in 2019 – designed to assess the emission levels of engines and fuel economy in European passenger cars (excluding light trucks and commercial vehicles). It is also referred to as MVEG cycle (Motor Vehicle Emissions Group). Supposed to represent the typical usage of a car, it is discredited for delivering economy-figures that are unachievable in reality. It comprised four repeated ECE-15 urban driving cycles (UDC) and one Extra-Urban driving cycle (EUDC). It is to be replaced by the WLTP, which will also apply to light vans.
nanotech – see nanotechnology
nanotechnology – Manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale.
It is very broad field including science as diverse as surfacescience, organicchemistry, molecular biology, semiconductorphysics, energystorage, microfabrication, molecularengineering – and now transport.
Practical applications range from use of cerium oxide as a fuel catalyst to gecko tape (incredibly powerful sticky tape), silver in food packaging, clothing, disinfectants, household appliances, zinc oxide in sunscreens and cosmetics, surface coatings, paints, outdoor furniture varnishes to tennis balls and golf balls.
Scientists are now turning to nanotechnology in to develop diesel engines with cleaner exhaust fumes. Platinum is currently used as the catalyst, but it is expensive and unsustainable. One example is Danish company InnovationsFonden which invested £2m in a search for new catalyst substitutes using nanotechnology.
The goal of the project is to maximise surface area and minimize the amount of material required. Nanoparticles will increase the effectiveness of the resulting diesel engine catalyst, leading to cleaner exhaust and lower cost by reducing platinum use by 25%.
net zero – See net zero emissions
net zero carbon emissions – See net zero emissions
net zero emissions – Also referred to as ‘carbon neutral’, ‘net zero carbon emissions’, or ‘net zero’ – it is the concept that any emissions are balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount. The only greenhouse gas that can easily be absorbed from the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. There are two basic approaches to extracting it: by stimulating nature to absorb more, and by building technology that does the job.
The concept of net-zero emissions is akin to ‘climate neutrality’. The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5˚C, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), finds that if the world reaches net-zero emissions one decade sooner, by 2040, the chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C is considerably higher.
It says that we will achieve net-zero emissions when any remaining human-caused greenhouse gas emissions (mainly from fossil-fuelled transport and energy) are balanced out by removing them from the atmosphere (a process known as carbon removal). To do this, emissions are reduced to as close to zero as possible and any remaining greenhouse gases would be balanced with an equivalent amount of carbon removal, for example by restoring forests or through direct air capture and storage (DACS) technology.
nitrous oxide (N2O) – Commonly known as laughing gas, it is a chemical compound, an oxide of nitrogen. At room temperature, it is a colourless non-flammable gas, with a slight metallic scent and taste. At elevated temperatures, nitrous oxide is a powerful oxidizer similar to molecular oxygen. It is soluble in water.
Used as an oxidiser in rocket propellants, and in motor racing to increase the power output of engines, nitrous oxide occurs in small amounts in the atmosphere, but has been found to be a major scavenger of stratospheric ozone, with an impact comparable to that of CFCs.
It is estimated that 30% of the N2O in the atmosphere is the result of human activity, chiefly agriculture. Being the third most important long-lived greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide substantially contributes to global warming.
NOx emissions – NOx is a generic term for the nitrogen oxides that are most relevant for air pollution, namely nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These gases contribute to the formation of smog and acid rain, as well as affecting tropospheric ozone. NOx gases are usually produced from the reaction among nitrogen and oxygen during combustion of fuels, such as hydrocarbons, in air; especially at high temperatures, such as in internal combustion engines. In areas of high vehicle traffic, such as in large cities, the nitrogen oxides emitted can be a significant source of air pollution.
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) – (OEM is pronounced as separate letters). A company that produces parts and equipment that may be marketed by another manufacturer. The term is also used in several other ways, which causes ambiguity. In vehicle terms, OEM refers to the manufacturer of the original equipment, that is, the parts assembled and installed during the construction of a new vehicle (such as brakes, tyres, seats). However, the terms is also widely used to refer to the manufacturer of the completed vehicle. OEM parts are often branded with the vehicle manufacturer’s name, even though they are physically made by another company (especially consumable parts, such as brakes). The largest OEM company in the world by both scale and revenue is Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics company, which manufactures parts and equipment for companies including Apple, Dell, Google, Huawei and Nintendo. See also aftermarket parts
P2i is an Oxfordshire-based, UK, nanotechnology development company (rather than a generic acronym) that works with manufacturers to produce liquid repellent nano-coating protection to products for the electronics, lifestyle, life sciences, filtration and Energy, and military and institutional sectors. It was established in 2004 to commercialise technologies developed by the UK MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. In further research and development, the company has identified innovative applications, equipment and processing methods, and now has 170+ patents, patent applications and utility model applications. In 2010 the company acquired Surface Innovations Limited, adding new technologies such as antimicrobial, super hydrophilic and protein resistance coatings to its solutions. www.p2i.com See also see nanotechnology.
Paris Agreement – The Paris Agreement (at COP 21) builds for the first time brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort. The central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. More details at unfccc.int/resource/bigpicture/#content-the-paris-agreement
Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) – Term used in the UK for a bus, coach or minibus.
pattern parts – see aftermarket parts
petrol hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) – A hybrid vehicle that derives its power from a petrol engine, and also batteries. Normally, the vehicle is driven by the petrol engine, which generates electric for the batteries. The vehicle is propelled using an electric motor. When the car is decelerating, the motor then acts as a generator to return electricity to the batteries. The vehicle will normally have a small range where it can run on electric only power. This is normally automatically selected by the vehicle, but can often be activated by the driver where ‘quiet mode’ is required. This type of hybrid does not need plugging in to a mains charger to top up the batteries.
platooning – A system (sometimes also called ‘flocking’) of a small group of cars or trucks driving together, with the driver in the lead vehicle being in charge. Other vehicles in the platoon are driven autonomously using V2X or V2V (see below) and can join at leave the platoon automatically at junctions. Use of artificial intelligence means that vehicles would detect a platoon or, if one is not nearby, create one themselves. It is currently a concept with a view to being operated on motorways, with a trial using trucks planned in 2020 on the M6 in Cumbria to test the technology.
Platooning decreases the distances between the trucks, allow many trucks to accelerate or brake simultaneously by eliminating the reaction time needed for human intervention. Benefits are mainly a fuel reduction due to slip-streaming (although studies suggest trucks would have to be very close together for any meaningful benefit) an increase in safety due to the reduction in driver workload and better use of roadspace. A further concept is automatic platooning for autonomous or semi-autonomous cars
plug-in hybrid – a hybrid vehicle using batteries and a petrol engine (see petrol hybrid electric vehicle), but with bigger batteries allowing a greater electric-only range. These batteries are charged by plugging-in the vehicle to a mains charger. The vehicle will work indefinitely without being plugged-in, but its fuel use and therefore emissions and cost will be higher, as electricity is a cheaper power source than petrol.
Portable Emissions Measurement Systems (PEMS) – A vehicle emissions testing device that is small and light enough to be carried inside or outside a vehicle that is being driven during testing, rather than on the stationary rollers of a dynamometer that only simulates real-world driving.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) – The use of electromagneticfields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader’s interrogating radio waves. Active tags have a power source (such as a battery) and may operate hundreds of metres from the RFID reader. Unlike a barcode, the tags don’t need to be within the line of sight of the reader, so the tag can be embedded in the tracked object. RFID is one method of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC). RFID tags are used in many industries, including for example during vehicle production to track its progress through the assembly line; RFID-tagged goods can be tracked through warehouses; and implanting RFID microchips in livestock and pets enables positive identification of animals. RFID tags can also be attached to cash, clothing, and possessions.
Range Extended Electric Vehicle (REx or REEV) – A vehicle that runs on electricity but includes an auxiliary power unit known as a ‘range extender’ – usually a small petrol engine – that charges the battery and allows these vehicles to travel greater distances between charges. Although range-extended vehicles contain a petrol engine, they are not classed as hybrids as the petrol engine is used to charge the battery not drive the vehicle. These vehicles will emit some CO2 when the range extender is in use, but typically this is well below the emission standards, so these vehicles can still be classed as Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.
RCV – Refuse collection vehicle – or ‘dustcart’ in colloquial parlance
Real Driving Emissions (RDE) – The Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test measures the pollutants, such as NOx, emitted by cars while driven on the road. RDE does not replace the WLTP laboratory test, but complements it. RDE ensures that cars deliver low emissions over on-road conditions. Europe is the first region in the world to introduce such on-road testing, marking a major leap in the testing of car emissions.
Real Time Information (RTI) – A computer system, using various inputs, to deliver information to uses as it happens in actual time, such as passenger boardings on a bus.
Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) – A real-time data system to predict actual arrival times, using GPS and other input sources, measured against the timetable, that can output information onto displays at transport stops and via other methods, such as web browsers and mobile phone apps.
Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) – A UK requirement, started in 2008, on fuel suppliers to ensure that 5% of all road vehicle fuel is supplied from sustainable renewable sources. The Government sets variable targets for the level of carbon and sustainability performance expected from all transport fuel suppliers claiming certificates for bio-fuels.
The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation Order (RTFO, 2007) requires large UK retail fuel suppliers to ensure that a minimum of 9.75% (by energy) of the fuel they supply comes from renewable sources by 2020, and 12.4% by 2032.
The RTFO helped to bring the UK into line with the EU bio-fuels directive, which set targets for all EU countries for bio-fuel usage of 2% by the end of 2005 and 5.75% by the end of 2010. The RTFO is mostly be achieved by blending fossil fuels with bio-ethanol, bio-methanol or biodiesel – derived from sources such as palm oil, oilseed rape, cereals, sugar cane, sugar beet, and reprocessed vegetable oil – or biomethane.
The RTFO is implemented through a certification scheme administered by the Department for Transport. Companies certified as having sold more than the 5% obligation will be able to sell their certificates for the excess to those who sold less.Roadgas – Trade name. Founded in 1992 in Nottingham it is a key supplier of CNG and biomethane vehicle refuelling station infrastructure and equipment.
Road to Zero – A UK government strategy document published in in July 2018 that sets out how the government will support the transition to zero-emission road transport and reduce emissions from conventional vehicles during the transition. The strategy is long term in scope and ambition, considering the drivers of change, opportunities and risks out to 2050 and beyond. Its focus, however, is on what the UK will do now to lay the foundations for the transition. The strategy is often referred to in isolation as ‘the road to zero’ – a ‘shorthand’ form encompassing the strategy. More details here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-emissions-from-road-transport-road-to-zero-strategy
RTFO – see Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation
smart charging – A form of electric vehicle (EV) charging in which the time and rate at which an EV’s battery pack is charged can be controlled in an ‘intelligent’ way than the simple use of a manual on/off switch.
It uses automation technology to charge the EV’s battery outside of expensive peak rates, and also reduce the peak loads on the electricity distribution grid. The UK Government has mandated that “all government funded home chargepoints for EVs must use innovative ‘smart’ technology from July 2019. This means chargepoints must be able to be remotely accessed, and capable of receiving, interpreting and reacting to a signal.”
smart mirrors – see Camera Monitoring System (CMS).
Smart Tachograph – New generation of digital tachograph, which is mandatory fitting on all vehicles first-registered on or after 15 June 2019. It has a higher level of security to prevent tampering. It can also communicate wirelessly with roadside enforcement officers while the vehicle is moving, sending messages about a range of driver infringements. This enables the vehicle to be selected for a ‘stop’ and inspection. More details are here
small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) – A business with fewer than 250 employees, and a turnover of less than €50m. They represent 99% of all businesses in the UK and EU. Millions of people work in SMEs, and they are seen as the key engine of growth and sustainability. Within this umbrella there are three different categories: medium-sized, small, and micro-businesses. These categories are defined by turnover According to the EU definition:
- A medium-sized business has fewer than 250 employees and either a turnover of up to €50m or a balance sheet total of up to €43m
- A small business has fewer than 50 employees and either a turnover of up to €10m or a balance sheet total of up to €10m
- A micro-business has fewer than 10 employees and either a turnover of up to €2m or a balance sheet total of up to €2m
SOLD (Supply Chain, Operations, Logistics & Delivery) – Logistics, operations and supply chain management are similar, but different, roles. Together they form the whole entity of getting products from the manufacturer to retailers’ shelves, covered by this acronym.
software as a service (SaaS) – A supplier, such as a vehicle manufacturer, operates the software and the necessary IT infrastructure, the customer uses them as a service, normally with a per-month or per-year fee. In transport SaaS is widely used, especially for tachograph downloading and analysis, scheduling, payroll and maintenance systems.
stationless – American term for dockless
STEM Ambassadors – Part of a Government-backed scheme, volunteers from a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related jobs and disciplines across the UK. They offer their time and enthusiasm to help bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers. STEM Ambassadors are an important and exciting free of charge resource for teachers and others engaging with young people inside and out of the classroom. STEM Learning is the largest provider of education and careers support in STEM. It works with schools, colleges and others working with young people across the UK. Supported by a unique partnership of Government, charitable trusts and employers, it is dedicated to raising young people’s engagement and achievement in STEM subjects and careers.www.stem.org.uk
Strategic Road Network (SRN) – The SRN comprises 4,300 miles of motorways and major ‘trunk’ A-roads (the most significant ‘A’ roads) in England, and it is managed by Highways England (HE), a company wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Transport. All other roads in England are managed by local and regional authorities. The Highways England network represents around 2% of all roads in England by length, but it carries 33% of all traffic by mileage. Two-thirds of all heavy goods vehicle mileage in England is undertaken on the SRN. To download a comprehensive independent government briefing on the SRN click here. To find out which roads are part of the SRN visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/roads-managed-by-highways-england
Sub-National Transport Body (SNTB) – The way in which the gap between national and local projects can be filled to ensure that there is an effective regional voice in the planning, prioritisation and delivery of transport improvements.
Backed by government, through the Department for Transport (DfT), the four SNTBs in England reflect the characteristics of the area they cover and bring a coherent and cohesive view to the assessment of what their region needs. Thus the structure of the SNTBs in the different parts of England is different to achieve their aims.
The Government expects SNTBs to produce strategic transport plans, which could include rail schemes and investments in the wider highway corridors that exist across council boundaries. Unlike Transport for London and Transport for the North, they are not statutory bodies. For more details see our ‘Organisations’ page.
supply chain/supply chain management – The management of the flow of goods and services (the supply chain). It involves the movement and storage of raw materials, of work-in-process inventory, and of finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption.
swarm intelligence (SI) – Defined as the collective behavior of decentralised, self-organized systems, natural or artificial, the concept is used in artificial intelligence. Examples include vehicles automatically reporting hazards occuring ahead in real-time to drivers of other vehicles, using Car2X. Volkswagen’s Mk 8 Golf, launched in October 2018, is the world’s first vehicle that is not on constantly connected, but includes this function as standard.
synthetic fuels/synfuels – A liquid or gaseousfuel created in an industrial process that replaces a direct fossil-based fuel, such as natural gas or oil. The process’ origins were invented 100 years ago, creating synthetic aviation fuel, oil and petrol from fossil fuel, such as coal. Modern synfuels can be 100% carbon-neutral, for example hydrogen for road vehicle use. Using renewable electricity, water is converted into hydrogen as a first step. This can be used in fuel-cell powered vehicles. A further step, adding carbon harvested from industrial processes or the air, can create a liquid fuel suitable for internal combustion engines.
tågsemester – see flight shame
tailpipe emissions – Emissions, including pollutants, that come from the exhaust or ‘tailpipe’ of a vehicle.
tank-to-wheel (TTW) – The specific part of the energy chain of a vehicle covering the point at which energy is absorbed (charging point; fuel pump) to discharge (being on the move). TTW describes the use of fuel in the vehicle and emissions during driving, while the term Well-to-Tank (WTT) describes the fuel supply – from production of the energy source (petrol, diesel, electricity, natural gas) to fuel supply (transport to the charging point or fuel pump). The term that includes tank-to-wheel (TTW) and well-to-tank (WTT) is well-to-wheel (WTW).
total cost of ownership (TCO) – The total cost of owning and operating a vehicle, including purchase, maintenance, depreciation, and fuel consumption. It is an important measure; for example a vehicle that is more expensive to buy, but delivers greater fuel efficiency and has better residual values would be cheaper to operate over a set period than one that has a lower initial purchase price, higher fuel consumption and heavy depreciation.
Traton – Parent group of Volkswagen’s heavy commercial vehicle division, comprising MAN, Scania and VW trucks in Africa and South America.
trunk road – The most significant ‘A’ roads in the UK. They are primary routes consisting of an ‘A’ road (or sequence of ‘A’ roads), forming a continuous route between two primary destinations. The route does not need to have the same numbering between its two destinations, but it should be signed in a way that assists drivers in finding the way to the relevant primary destination. The Government’s guidance on road classification is here. See also Strategic Road Network (SRN)
TTW – see tank-to-wheel
turnkey – A type of project that can be sold as a complete product to a buyer, so that one organisation or consortium completes every aspect of the project for the client.
UCO – see used cooking oil
urban air mobility (UAM) – Urban transport systems that move people by air. These systems developed in response to traffic congestion. See also EVtol
UK100 – A network of highly ambitious local government leaders, who have pledged to secure the future for their communities by shifting to 100% clean energy by 2050. Local leaders are working together to create flourishing communities, seizing the opportunities of technology to create jobs and establishing a nationwide project of renewal, focussed on local needs and ambitions. It is the only network for UK local authorities, urban, suburban and rural, focused climate and clean energy policy. We connect local leaders to each other, to business and to national government, enabling them to showcase their achievements, learn from each other and speak collectively to accelerate the transition to clean energy. More details at www.uk100.org
Ultra Low Emission Bus (ULEB) – A UK government scheme. An Ultra-Low Emission Bus saves 30% well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions over the UK Bus Cycle compared with a Euro VI diesel bus of equivalent passenger capacity and has a Euro VI certified engine or equivalent emissions capability. A ULEB qualifies for certain financial incentives. More details are here
Ultra Low Emission Truck (ULET) – A UK government scheme being developed in 2020. ULET definitions (currently being determined) will help to provide clarity on emission standards and encourage industry-focused technology development in pursuit of cost-effective, fuel-efficient new vehicles. It is hoped that government-backed financial incentives could be available to promote the uptake of ULET.
Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) – A UK government definition: A car or van that produces less than 75g of CO2 per km driven and is able to drive for 10 miles without emitting any CO2. A ULEV can qualify for UK government-backed financial incentives, along with local authority-backed incentives, such as free parking, or access to certain areas that are off-limits to non-ULEVs.
Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – A very stringent low emission zone in London, UK. One of the most radical anti-pollution policies in the world, it is a fee charged to the most-polluting vehicles in central London. Introduced in April 2019 it led to the number of the worst polluting vehicles dropping from 35,600 to 23,000 and a 20% reduction in emissions in Central London.
The zone will be expanded to cover the area inside North and South Circular Roads, containing 3.8m people, from October 2021. Once the zone is expanded, an estimated 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries will pay the charge daily due to being non-compliant.
The charge is £100 per day for non-compliant buses, coaches and lorries (if not Euro IV) and £12.50 per day for Motorbikes if not Euro 3 or better, petrol cars and vans (Euro 4 or better) and diesel cars or vans (Euro 6 or better).
United Kingdom – ‘Great Britain’ comprises the nations of England, Scotland and Wales. What is commonly known as the ‘UK’, the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, is the sovereign state. The ‘British Isles’ is the geological group of islands, comprising the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Isle of Man; that is most commonly called ‘Britain and Ireland’.
uptime – A measure of system or vehicle reliability, expressed, as the percentage of time a machine or vehicle has been working or available for use
Uptis (Unique, puncture-proof Tyre System) – Trade name: Michelin airless tyre system
used cooking oil (UCOs) – UCOs are oils and fats that have been used for cooking or frying in the food processing industry, restaurants, fast foods and at consumer level, in households. The European Waste Catalogue (EWC) classifies them as Municipal Wastes (household waste and similar commercial, industrial and institutional wastes) including separately collected fractions, under the code 20 01 25 (edible oils and fats).
UCO obtained from waste water treatment plants is also considered non‐hazardous materials with a different code: 19 08 09 (grease and oil mixture from oil/water separation containing edible oil and fats).
It is estimated that currently around 90% of cooking oils and fat used in the EU are produced from vegetable oils, whereas in countries such as Belgium relatively large quantities of animal fats are used. According to EU estimations, the potential UCO to be collected is around 8L UCO/capita/year. Extrapolated to the total EU population of around 500 million, this means that 4 Mton of UCO is the annually capacity – seven times more than the current collected amount. This potential increases around 2% per year, following the annual increase of cooking oil usage in the EU‐15. Read more here
VAN2SHARE – Brand name used by Mercedes-Benz for its V2X (see below) system. It provides keyless access to the Mercedes-Banz vans via an app, and is a cellular system, working without an internet connection to the internet, using a mixture of GSM and Bluetooth technology.
Aimed at courier parcel service providers and car rental companies, it opens possibilities to digitally manage demand-oriented and flexible fleets at decentralised locations.
Vehicles can be parked outside their own depot and taken over by the driver or customer at points that are particularly convenient for them. VAN2SHARE works according to the software as a service principle. Mercedes-Benz Vans operates the software and the necessary IT infrastructure, the customer uses them as a service.
In the open-plan system, customers can take advantage of additional services, such as integrated claims management and geo-fencing, or the automatic assignment of vehicles to drivers.
The solution can be easily retrofitted in existing vehicles. All you have to do is install a hardware component to make the connectivity. Fleets from new and older vehicles can be intelligently linked with VAN2SHARE and the entire fleet managed with one solution.
vehicle-to-grid (V2G) – A system where electric vehicles plugged into a chargepoint can provide bi-directional flows of energy. It can turn an electric vehicle into a mobile battery store. It can help power a home or office in an eco-friendly manner. In turn it can reduce electricity bills, help the electricity grid and generate revenue when used with smart control. More details at https://www.e-flex.co.uk/v2g See also V2X
vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication – The passing of information from a vehicle to any entity – using the Internet of Things – that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa. Through its instant communication V2X allows road safety applications such as:
- Forward collision warning
- Lane change warning/blind spot warning
- Emergency electric brake light warning
- Intersection movement assist
- Emergency vehicle approaching
- Roadworks warning
While V2X covers the ‘top line’ it is a vehicle communication system that incorporates other more specific types of communication as:
- V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure)
- V2N (vehicle-to-network)
- V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle)
- V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian)
- V2D (vehicle-to-device) – currently automatic connection of mobile phones to take calls, play music etc
- V2G (vehicle-to-grid) – see separate entry above
The main motivations for V2X are road safety, traffic efficiency, and energy savings. There are two types of V2X communication technology depending on the underlying technology being used: WLAN-based, and cellular-based.
Cellular (using the mobile phone network) is being superseded by WLAN as global standards are set. WLAN supports direct communication between vehicles (V2V) and between vehicles and infrastructure (V2I). This technology is referred to as Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC).
V2X was first introduced by Toyota in cars sold in Japan in 2016, and followed by General Motors in one model in the USA in 2017. Car2X (see separate entry) is a proprietary system, initially introduced to the market in 2019 by Volkswagen, that uses a combination of the above.
Vera – Trade name for Volvo’s autonomous cab-less tractor unit
Visual Positioning Service (VPS) – An advancement on GPS – which can be inaccurate, especially in places with tall buildings that ‘block’ the ‘view’ of satellites needed to establish a precise location. VPS is a new way of identifying a precise location based on an image or video. An image taken by the user on their smartphone, or live streamed video from a vehicle, is compared with a database to give accuracy down to one metre. It is expected to be used mainly in cities, where precise location is vital for autonomous vehicles. An early application could be for ride-share services, such as taxis, which can pinpoint the user’s exact location.
wearable technology – Wearable technology, wearables, fashion technology, tech togs, or fashion electronics are smart electronic devices (electronic device with micro-controllers) that can be incorporated into clothing or worn on the body as implants or accessories.
In commercial uses, smart glasses are being used in logistics and for vehicle technicians, so they can have both hands free, while also reading information, or transmitted pictures to another user. Wearable devices such as activity trackers are an example of the Internet of Things, since “things” such as electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity enable objects to exchange data through the internet with a manufacturer, operator, and/or other connected devices, without requiring human intervention.
Wearable technology has a variety of applications which grows as the field itself expands. It appears prominently in consumer electronics with the popularisation of the smartwatch and activity tracker. Apart from commercial uses, wearable technology is being incorporated into navigation systems, advanced textiles, and healthcare.
well-to-tank (WTT) – A Well-to-Tank emissions factor, also known as upstream or indirect emissions, is an average of all the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released into the atmosphere from the production, processing and delivery of a fuel or energy vector. These factors are used in calculating the greenhouse gas emission impact of Low and Ultra Low Emission Buses. More details here. See also well-to-wheel (WTW) and tank-to-wheel (TTW).
well-to-wheel (WTW) – The entire process of energy usage, from the ‘mining’ of the energy source to a vehicle being driven. The outcome serves as a sound and broadly accepted scientific reference. In Europe, the JEC (JRC-Eucar-Concawe) – a long-standing collaboration between the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, EUCAR and Concawe. Objectives include the evaluation of energy use and emissions related to engine and vehicle technologies, fuel qualities, and the interaction between them. See also well-to-tank (WTT) and tank-to-wheel (TTW).
Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) – The WLTP is a global, harmonised standard for determining the levels of pollutants, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of traditional, hybrid and full electric vehicles. From 1 September 2019 all light duty vehicles to be registered in EU countries, plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Turkey, India, South Korea and Japan, must comply with the WLTP standards.
The new protocol was developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to replace the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). One of the main goals of the WLTP is to better match the laboratory estimates of fuel consumption and emissions with the measures of an on-road driving condition. WLTP also aims to harmonise test procedures on an international level, and set up an equal playing field in the global market.
workplace parking levy (WPL) – A charge on employers who provide car parking at workplaces. It is a type of congestion charging scheme, to encourage modal shift. The first scheme in the UK was introduced in Nottingham in 2012 to tackle problems associated with traffic congestion, by providing funding for major transport infrastructure initiatives and by acting as an incentive for employers to manage their workplace parking provision. Money raised from the WPL has helped to fund extensions to the existing tram system, the redevelopment of Nottingham Railway Station and supports the Link Bus network.
zero-emission capable (ZEC) – A vehicle that can operate in zero-emission mode – typically on electric power only. It may have a range-extender internal combustion engine that operates at other times. Such vehicles are sometimes controlled by geo-fences, so they automatically go into zero-emission mode in certain areas.
zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) – A vehicle that does not emit any harmful emissions, typically electric or fuel-cell electric.
zero-emission zone (ZEZ) – A defined geographical area where only zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) are allowed. In such areas, all internal combustion engined (petrol, diesel, gas) vehicles are banned; this includes hybrid vehicles, unless they are zero-emission capable.