If you’ve started to look into EVs for your fleet, you may be encountering some new terms that describe electric vehicle battery size, power output and efficiency. Here we simplify some of the specifications that might be new to you, and match them up with their equivalents in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

EV power (kW, not horsepower)

As you read about EVs, you will see kW, or kilowatts, in addition to horsepower. Both mean the same thing: power output. 

The term horsepower comes from back when car builders were trying to explain engines to people who still got around with actual horses. In an EV, kilowatts keep the measurement for motor output, battery size and charging rates all on the same terms. 

That said, like those stagecoach drivers from a century ago, not all EV buyers are comfortable working with kW just yet, so automakers will often still list horsepower figures. A quick conversion gets you to whichever figure you need.

An integrated electric vehicle drive module with single-speed transmission, in cutaway.

For electric vehicles, kW represents the amount of power that the drivetrain can deliver to the wheels to propel the vehicle.

Torque is still expressed in the same terms: Newton-metres (Nm) in metric, or pound-feet (lb-ft) in imperial measurements. In Canada, we typically use lb-ft.

EV efficiency (kWh or Le per 100km, not litres)

Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

A kilowatt-hour is a way to measure energy: It’s the amount of electricity required to power one 1,000-watt appliance for one hour, or 1,000 one-watt appliances for one hour. In electric vehicles kWh is used to show how much energy a battery can store, and how much energy is required to propel the vehicle for 100 km (kWh/100 km).

You’re probably used to working with fuel consumption in litres per 100 kilometres (L/100 km). With EVs, two different measurements can be used. 

One is litres-equivalent per 100 kilometres, or Le/100 km. Natural Resources Canada uses this to express an EV’s energy use in the same terms as a combustion vehicle, with a conversion of 8.9 kWh as the energy equivalent of one litre of gasoline.1 This is useful for understanding EV energy use relative to a combustion counterpart, but it doesn’t help with calculating costs.

To do that, you’ll want to use the other measurement, which is kWh/100 km. This tells you how many kilowatt-hours of power an EV will use to travel 100 kilometres. Once you know how much you’re paying per kWh for energy, this measurement is just as useful to you as L/100 km. It’s the one you’ll refer to most often when working on your budgets.

Electric vehicle battery size (kWh, not litres)

Electric vehicle battery size is expressed in terms of how much power the battery will hold, just like the litres in a fuel tank. The vehicle’s stated range is obtained by dividing the battery capacity by the efficiency rating. The bigger the battery (131 kWh for the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning extended range), the further an EV can go (515 km, versus 370 km for the standard range 98 kWh battery pack) on a single charge. However, just like in a combustion vehicle, there’s more to this: driving style, outside temperature, road conditions, towing and payload demands, and more can affect real-world range. But this figure is a good baseline for comparing range between EVs with similar specifications.

Read our list of electric vehicles that are available now

Side by side: the 2022 Ford F-150 ICE and EV

Performance specificationsICE: F-150 2.7L EcoBoost V6EV: F-150 Lightning PRO
(standard range)
Horsepower/power output325 hp2452 hp3 (318 kW4)
Torque400 lb-ft775 lb-ft5
Towing10,100 lb (4,535 kg)10,100 lb (4,535 kg)
Payload2,480 lb (1,125 kg)2,000 lb (907 kg)
Fuel consumption612.0 L/100 km3.4 Le/100 km or 26.48 kWh/100 km
Fuel tank/battery capacity87 litres798 kWh
Cost to refuel (Toronto prices, May 2022)$172.26 @ $1.98/L (regular unleaded)8$8.04 @ 8.2¢/kWh (off-peak)
Range on a full tank/charge846 km7370 km3
A side-by-side comparison of the internal combustion engine and electric motor versions of the 2022 Ford F-150.

Next up: Learn about EV charging speeds and charging connector plugs.

Want to learn more? Sign up or log in so you can track your progress, earn a course certificate and receive exclusive invitations to our live learning sessions.