A train in japanese is 電車. Precisely an electric train.

電 means electricity and 車 means car/vehicle.

Which means that the name for fully electrical cars should be 電車 or 自動電車 right?


Electric cars are called 電気自動車.

I’m not sure, what you mean by "will" (and what the timeframe is), but I guess they will remain to be also called 車{くるま}, just as two-wheeled carts pulled by oxen.


There is no such word like 自動電車 (belongs to electric trains which uses automatic/driverless operation like people mover) for electric road vehicles, but 電気自動車 is a general term for all electric-powered road vehicles with electric motors, regardless of their primary power source.

If the primary power source is considered, there are 2 main variations:

1) 燃料電池自動車 (fuel cell powered electric vehicle) - using chemical fuel cells as primary power source (combined with battery or capacitors as power storage).

2) 電池式電気自動車 (battery powered electric vehicle) - using battery as primary power source. In nowadays rechargeable battery is more preferred.

There is another electric road vehicle which uses overhead wire (架線集電) like 電車 has, it is trolleybus (トロリーバス).

Note that 電車 specifically refers to electric powered trains which always running on top of rail tracks, not including dual-mode vehicles (vehicles which can running on both road & rail).


You just have to be careful about how the motive power is produced or where it is coming from. I explained here that it can only be 電車 if it runs on electricity either running from a wire current or an onboard battery.

The term 電車 itself is an abbrevation for 電動機付き客車 (electric passenger car) and 電動機付き貨車 (electric freight car). See more about it here.

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