Frequent questions about electric cars include asking about the time it takes to charge a vehicle and what all the different expressions mean; what the best charging cable and so on. In this article we try to clarify all those various FAQs.
It seems that 2020 is shaping up to be the unofficial Year of the Electric Car. The build-up to this over the last decade has, to be fair, been fairly slow given the reticence of buyers to risk running out of juice mid-trip and the time taken to recharge when it happens. Range anxiety is now less of a worry and such negative thinking is beginning to recede thanks to much improved battery technology; the distance an EV can travel is increasing with every model and today there is an electric vehicle that will suit most people’s itineraries, most of the time.
So let’s put that to bed once and for all. With public charging points appearing all over the place; at shops, work places, car parks, malls and even petrol stations, there is now no reason to fear. There’s a whole raft of new EV technology coming our way. A lot has already been announced, with new cars and even commercial vehicles in the showrooms now, with much more becoming available in 2020.
|Manufacturer and model||Max Charge Speed||Range||Plug Type||Full Charge with 3 Pin||Full Charge with Charging Station|
|Audi A3 e-tron||3,7 kW||50 km||Type 2||3,45 h||2,25 h|
|Audi e -Tron Sportback 50 Quattro||11kW||289km||Type 2||33,25h||7h|
|Audi E-Tron 55 Quattro/ S and S Sportback||11kW||400 km||Type 2||31h||9h|
|Audi e-Tron GT||11kW||415km||Type 2||45h||9,25 h|
|Audi e-tron Sportback||11kW||370km||Type 2||42h||9 h|
|Audi Q4 e-Tron||11kw||420km||Type 2||42hh||9 h|
|Audi Q7 e-tron||7.4kW||37km||Type 2||7,75 h||2,5 h|
|Audi Q7 e-Tron||7,2 kW||56 km||Type 2||8 h||2,5 h|
|BMW 225xe||3,7 kW||41 km||Type 2||3 h||2 h|
|BMW 330e||3,7 kW||37 km||Type 2||3,5 h||2,5 h|
|BMW 530e iPerformance||3.7kW||33km||Type 2||4,25 h||2,75 h|
|BMW 740e||3.7kW||25km||Type 2||4h||2,50 h|
|BMW i3||3,7 | 4,6 | 7,4 kW||190 km||Type 2||8,5 h||5,5 | 4,5 | 3 h|
|BMW i3 94 Ah REx||3,7 | 11 kW||300 km||Type 2||12 h||8 | 3 h|
|BMW i3s||3,7 | 11 kW||280 km||Type 2||12 h||8 | 3 h|
|BMW i8||3,7 kW||37 km||Type 2||2,5 h||2 h|
|BMW iX3||11kW||354km||Type 2||38h||8h|
|BMW X5 xDrive40e||3,7 kW||31 km||Type 2||3,5 h||2,5 h|
|Chevrolet Bolt||7,4kW||383km||Type 1||12h||8 h|
|Chevrolet Spark||3,3kW||132km||Type 1||9h||5,67 h|
|Chevrolet Volt||4,6 kW||85 km||Type 2||5h||2,5 h|
|Citroen C-Zero||3,7 kW||150 km||Type 1||6,5 h||4,5 h|
|Citroën E-Berlingo Multispace||3,2 kW||170 km||Type 1||10 h||7,5 h|
|DS 3 Crossback E-Tense||7,4kW||249km||Type 2||23,25h||7,25h|
|Fiat 500e||11kW||249km||Type 2||21,5h||4,5h|
|Fiat 500e Convertible||11kW||249km||Type 2||21,5h||4,5h|
|Fisker Karma||3,7 kW||81 km||Type 1||9 h||6 h|
|Ford C-Max Energi||3.7kW||33km||Type 1||3,25 h||2 h|
|Ford Focus||3,7 |4,6 | 6,6 kW||225 km||Type 1||15 h||8 | 7,5 | 5,5 h|
|Ford Mustang Mach- E ER AWD||11kW||426km||Type 2||46,25 h||9,75 h|
|Honda e /e advance||6,6kW||201/193km||Type 2||16,5h||5,75h|
|Hyundai Ioniq Electric||3,7 |4,6 | 6,6³ kW||280 km||Type 2||12,5 h||8 |6,5 | 4,5 h|
|Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid||3,3 kW||50 km||Type 2||n.A.||4 h|
|Hyundai Kona 100kw||3,7 |4,6 | 7,2 kW||312 km||Type 2||17 h||11 | 9 | 5,5 h|
|Hyundai Kona 150kw||3,7 |4,6 | 7,2 kW||482 km||Type 2||28 h||18 | 14,5 | 9,5 h|
|Jaguar I Pace||7.2 | 50 kW||480 km||Type 2||39,5 h||13 | 2 h|
|Kia e-Niro||3,7 |4,6 | 7,2 kW||455 km*||Type 2||28 h||18 | 14,5 | 9,5 h|
|Kia e-Niro 64kW||3,7 |4,6 | 7,2 kW||289 km*||Type 2||17 h||11 | 9 | 5,5 h|
|Kia Optima Ph||3.3kW||33km||Type 2||4 h||3 h|
|Kia Soul 64kW||3,7 |4,6 | 6,6 kW||250 km||Type 1||13 h||8,5 | 7,5 | 5 h|
|Mazda MX-30 (Orders planned to be taken from Spring 2020)||6,6kW||177km||Type 2||16,5 h||5,45 h|
|Mercedes B Class||11Kw||137km||Type 2||12,10h||2,50 h|
|Mercedes C-Class plug-in hybrid||3,7 kW||31 km||Type 2||3 h||2 h|
|Mercedes E350||3,7kW||30 km||Type 2||2,45h||1,45h|
|Mercedes EQA||11kW||346km||Type 2||30,75h||6,5h|
|Mercedes EQC||7,2 kW||450 km||Type 2||35 h||12h|
|Mercedes EQV||11kW||321km||Type 2||46,25 h||9,75 h|
|Mercedes GLE500e||2,8 kW||30 km||Type 2||4 h||3,5 h|
|Mercedes S500 PH||3,7 kW||33 km||Type 2||4 h||3 h|
|Mercedes Vito E-Cell Van||7,2 kW||150 km||Type 2||8h||6h|
|MG ZS EV||6.6kW||217km||Type 2||21,75h||6.5h|
|Mini Countryman Cooper S E ALL4||3.7kw||25km||Type 2||3,5 h||2,25 h|
|Mini E||11kW||177km||Type 2||15h||3,25h|
|Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||3,7 kW||50 km||Type 1||6 h||5 h|
|Mitsubishi-I Miev||3,7 kW||160 km||Type 1||7 h||6 h|
|Nissan e-NV200 Combi Van||6.6kW||185km||Type 1||19,5h||7h|
|Nissan Leaf (24 kWh)||3,3 | 4,6 | 6,6³ kW||199 km||Type 1||11 h||7 | 5,5 | 4 h|
|Nissan Leaf (30 kWh)||3,3 | 4,6 | 6,6³ kW||250 km||Type 1||13,5 h||9 | 7 | 5 h|
|Nissan Leaf (40 kWh)||3,3 | 4,6 | 6,6³ | DC 50 kW||378 km||Type 2||18 h||12 | 8 | 6 h|
|Nissan NV200 SE Van||3,3 | 4,6 | 6,6³ kW||167 km||Type 1||11 h||7 | 5,5 | 4 h|
|Peugeot e-2008 SUV||7,4 | 11 kW||249km||Type 2||23,25||7,25 | 5h|
|Peugeot e-208||7,4 | 11 kW||273km||Type 2||23,25||7,25 | 5h|
|Peugeot iOn||3,7 kW||150 km||Type 1||6,5 h||5 h|
|Peugeot Partner||7,4 |50 kW||520 km||Type 2||26,5 h||8,5 h|
|Polstar 2||11kW||426km||Type 2||37,25h||7,75h|
|Porche Taycan Turbo S||11kW||370km||Type 2||43h||9h|
|Porsche Cayenne||3,6 | 4,6| 7,2 kW||36 km||Type 2||5 h||3 | 2,5 | 2 h|
|Porsche Panamera S PH||3,6 | 7,2 kW||50 km||Type 2||6,5 h||4,5 | 2 h|
|Porsche Taycan 4S||11kW||362km||Type 2||36,5h||7,75 h|
|Porsche Taycan 4S Plus||11kW||418km||Type 2||43h||9h|
|Porsche Taycan Turbo||11kW||386km||Type 2||43h||9h|
|Range Rover P400e/Sport P400e||7.4kW||28km||Type 2||6,5 h||2 h|
|Renault Kangoo Crew Van ZE33||7,4 kW||160 km||Type 2||16h||5 h|
|Renault Kangoo Phase1||3,6 kW||170 km||Type 1||10 h||6.5 h|
|Renault Kangoo Phase2||4,6 | 7,2³ kW||270 km||Type 2||14 h||8.75 | 6 h|
|Renault Twingo ZE||22 kW||128km||Type 2||11h||1,25 h|
|Renault Zoe Q90 (Z.E. 40)||22 kW||370 km||Type 2||25 h||2,67 h|
|Renault Zoe R240||22 kW||240 km||Type 2||13,5 h||1,75 h|
|Renault Zoe R90 (Z.E. 40)||22 kW||403 km||Type 2||25 h||2,67 h|
|Seat El-Born||11 kW||346km||Type 2||29,75 h||6,25 h|
|Seat Mii||7,2 kW||193km||Type 2||16,75 h||5,50 h|
|Skoda CITIGOe iV||7,2 kW||193km||Type 2||16,75 h||5,50 h|
|Skoda Enyaq – vision iV 50||7.2kW||289km||Type 2||26,75 h||8,50 h|
|Skoda Enyaq – vision iV 60||11 kW||321km||Type 2||29,75 h||6,25 h|
|Skoda Enyaq – vision iV 80||11kW||418km||Type 2||39,50 h||8,25 h|
|Smart EQ ForFour||4,6 | 22 kW||150 km||Type 2||8 h||4 | 1 h|
|Smart EQ ForTwo||4,6 | 22 kW||160 km||Type 2||8 h||4 | 1 h|
|Tesla Model 3||11 kW||499 km||Type 2||35 h||7.5 h|
|Tesla Model S 100D||11 | 16,5 kW||632 km||Type 2||45 h||9,5 | 6,5 h|
|Tesla Model S 75D||11 | 16,5 kW||490 km||Type 2||33 h||7,5 | 5 h|
|Tesla Model S 90D||11 | 16,5 kW||550 km||Type 2||40 h||8,5 | 6 h|
|Tesla Model S P100D||11 | 16,5 kW||613 km||Type 2||45 h||9,5 | 6,5 h|
|Tesla Model X Performance||17kW||442km||Type 2||48.75h||7h|
|Tesla Model X Long Range||17kW||450km||Type 2||48.75h||7h|
|Tesla Model Y Long Range Performance||11kW||402km||Type 2||37,25 h||7,75 h|
|Toyota Prius||3,7 kW||50 km||Type 2||3 h||2 h|
|Vauxhall Ampera -e||7.4kW||345km||Type 2||26h||8h|
|Vauxhall Corsa-e||11kW||273km||Type 2||23,25h||5h|
|Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4||3.7kW | 7.4kW||37km||Type 2||5,75 h||3,75 | 2 h|
|Volkswagen e-Golf||7,2 kW||300 km||Type 2||16 h||5 h|
|Volkswagen e-Golf (until 2016)||3,6 kW||190 km||Type 2||11 h||7 h|
|Volkswagen e-Up||3,6 kW||160 km||Type 2||9 h||6 h|
|Volkswagen Golf GTE PH||3,6 kW||45-50 km||Type 2||3.75 h||2.25 h|
|Volkswagen ID Neo||11kW||300km||Type 2||24h||5,25 h|
|Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S||11kW||450km||Type 2||39.5 h||8. 25 h|
|Volkswagen ID.4||11k kW||418km||Type 2||39,5 h||8,25 h|
|Volkswagen Passat GTE||3,6 kW||50 km||Type 2||5 h||3 h|
|Volvo C30||22 kW||163 km||Type 2||11 h||1,5 h|
|Volvo S90 T8||3.7kW||27km||Type 2||4,25 h||2,75 h|
|Volvo V60 PH||3,6 kW||50 km||Type 2||4,5 h||3,5 h|
|Volvo V90 T8||3.7kW||27km||Type 2||4,25 h||2,75 h|
|Volvo XC40 P8 AWD Recharge||11kW||370km||Type 2||38,50 h||8,25 h|
|Volvo XC60 T8||3.7kW||28km||Type 2||5,25 h||3,25 h|
|Volvo XC90 T8||3,6 kW||43 km||Type 2||4,5 h||2,5 h|
Charging An Electric Car
It’s easier than ever to charge a car. The very latest charging cables are available from stockists and wall chargers and hub points are increasingly becoming popular with owners because they are convenient, adaptable and faster: That’s good news. depending upon the age and model of car however, there are factors that affect charging speed, so it is fair to ask the question, ‘how long does an electric car take to charge?
As Always, The Answer Is: It Depends.
An issue that has, it might be suggested, not been fully thought through by manufacturers and suppliers is one of standardisation. Thus it is important for potential buyers to ask questions before committing. It’s not a problem and it is not going to raise any spectres later, it’s just that it is important to get up to speed, if you’ll pardon the pun.
- Factors that affect charging speed
Consider this: When filling up a petrol or diesel motor at a fuel station, how long it takes will depend upon the age of the pumping equipment, the rate of flow and the size of the petrol tank. So it is with an EV. The bigger a vehicle’s battery pack capacity, which is measured in kiloWatt hours (kWh), the longer it will take to charge up. Obviously, a battery that is part full will take less time than one that is running on empty.
Further, a vehicle’s battery can only charge at the maximum charge rate the vehicle’s system can accept. So, if an EV’s maximum charge rate is 7kW, it won’t be charged any quicker by using a fast charge point. Similarly, looking at it from the other direction, the time it takes to charge will also be limited by the speed of the charger being used. It’s worth noting too that ambient temperature is a factor also as anyone who has battled with a reluctant car battery on a cold morning will know.
- About a car’s maximum charging capacity
Because brand charging rates and capacities vary, the big picture is beginning to settle down broadly speaking in three ways. Battery charging capacity varies according to vehicle type; that is to say, the small urban EV comes with a battery with a capacity of, say, of 12–18kWh; further up the range the mid-sized family car will have perhaps a 22–32kWh pack, and at the prestige end (Tesla being a prime example) the cars will offer big packs of possibly 60–100kWh. The bigger the pack the further it will go between charges.
3. How important is choosing the correct charging cable?
EV charging cables connect directly into the electrical system on board an EV and, rather obviously, there is a need to understand how they work. An EV charging cable has three sections: A connector which plugs into the car, a length of wire culminating in another plug connecting to a power source. Inevitably, there are variations.
Today, all new plug-in vehicles and charging points must include a ‘Type 2’ charging connector and can be used for standard and rapid chargers. (Simple mains plugs and earlier Type 1’s are still available but less used these days). In an effort to speed up the process, several rapid charging plugs have been developed and are offered on new electric cars. These are CHAdeMo and CCS.
- Maximum output of a home wall charging station
Weather proof outside wall chargers and indoor units for the garage make absolute sense and make overnight charging a cinch. There’s a limit though. Because most domestic homes are only wired for single-phase power, the maximum load that such a system can safely take is 7kW. Faster units are available but require a three-phase power supply, which are usually only found on commercial sites.
- Does the size of the battery affect charging time?
Yes it can do. Simply put, a bigger battery pack will take longer to charge than a small one, if everything else is equal, but they are not. This is why faster charging cables and rapid home and public charging points help to even things out. In any case, on a rapid charger the majority of vehicles can top up about 80% in around thirty minutes, give or take.
6. Will it take longer if the battery is cold?
As mentioned in the first section, in the same way it takes humans longer to get going on a cold morning, so batteries also suffer. The science says that longer charging times are likely when temperatures drop because cold temperatures impact upon the electrochemical reactions within the cell and for this reason onboard battery management systems limit the charging rate to avoid damage to the battery. Fortunately, we live in the UK, not Siberia, so extremes of temperature are not usual and EV’s can easily cope.
- What is top up charging?
All electric cars will benefit from a full overnight charge, providing a range that will adequately provide for most of our daily motoring needs. Sometimes though, a top-up at a public point might be required and nobody wants to hang around for hours, so that’s why making sure a suitable rapid-charging cable is in the car will ensure a top up can be made that will take around a half hour for about an 80% quick charge; just enough time to get a coffee in the safe knowledge that there will be plenty of juice to get home.
- Can I do anything to look after my battery
The charging/discharging process of a battery is important as is the case for almost anything that runs on batteries. Frequent little top ups are generally accepted to be a bad thing (there is a scientific explanation) so using an EV battery fully helps to keep it healthy. The ideal is to keep it in the 50-80% bracket where possible, although circumstances will dictate this. The good news is that early worries about battery degradation appear to be unfounded and established cars like the Tesla and the Leaf are delivering high mileages with little power loss.
That said, to aid longevity, it pays to try not to fully discharge a battery and, if the car is to remain unused for a while, then correct storage is important and, again, be mindful of very cold weather.
- Will overcharging damage my cars battery?
The battery pack is an expensive part of an electric vehicle build and car makers are fully aware of that. The short answer to this question then is no. All EV’s have a built-in battery management and monitoring system which makes sure that the main battery pack doesn’t overcharge. The charging process is automatically slowed down when nearly full at which point it starts to trickle charge and simply maintain 100% until the next drive. That’s why it is safe to leave an EV on charge overnight.
- Rapid charging: Will that charge my car faster?
It depends. Yes, on the face of it, but there is no point in charging a car with a rapid charger if that car is designed with a lower maximum charging rate. See section 2. Speed of charging will always and only depend on both the vehicle’s technology and that of the charging infrastructure. No charger can charge a car faster than the EV’s charging rate allows.
- What can I do to make my car battery last longer?
Forward planning and forethought is the answer. By avoiding too many ‘quick’ charges helps to maintain battery health. Plan longer journeys ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary detours and to be aware of charging options en route. As mentioned in section 8, maintaining a battery charge of around 50-80% makes sense for battery longevity. Also, driving that little bit slower will preserve charge. Read the manual that comes with the car.
- Do I need to turn my charging station off when my cars battery is full?
Modern wall charging units and home chargers have ‘intelligent’ features enabling them to be set to charge an electric vehicle overnight or at times when off‐peak electricity tariffs are available. That makes sense and an additional benefit is that better units can be monitored remotely by the owner who can change settings or even switch the system on or off. To answer the question though; no, manual switching off is not necessary; they’ll do it themselves when charging is complete.
- How to calculate charging time yourself
Although in our busy lives taking the trouble to calculate the charging time of our electric cars, based on all the known factors, might be seen to be a step too far, it is in fact possible. Home users might see this as being a bit over the top, but there is a case for knowing this sort of information, for example, if a company runs a fleet of electric cars or vans. This could help maximise efficient use and augment charging regimes.
Someone has gone to the trouble of inventing a handy calculator which can be found here, but if any EV owner has the urge to calculate the figure for themselves then we can offer this calculation courtesy of a Belgian energy guide:
Divide the load power by 1,000 for a value in kilowatts.
For example: 3,680 W = 3.7 kilowatts
- Divide the power of your battery (also in kW) by the figure obtained to get the charging time.
For example: 24 kW/ 3.7 kW= 6.5 hours
- First calculate your load power (P), by multiplying the voltage (U in volts) by the current (I, in amps). You get a value in watts.
P = U x I
For example: 16 A x 230 V = 3,680 W
We’ll leave that one with you.
- How can I charge my electric car faster?
Aside from home charging as described above, EV owners can also charge at public sites which are free (if you are lucky), pay-as-you-go or subscription based. Users will be pleased to know that public chargers are fast and can deliver an 80% load in thirty minutes, more or less.
Broadly speaking there three main kinds of EV chargers, known as Levels 1, 2 and 3:
The first is the slowest and equates to the average home charger or three-pin plug where speed is not of the essence. Level 2 units were once the fastest and are also available for home chargers but for speed of charging it is the Level 3 chargers which can deliver between 20 and 50 kW and can recharge an EV in short order. As indicated above in section 10, not all cars can use them. Tesla vehicles have even more powerful superchargers and are seen as the leaders in EV technology.
The thing is though, as we mentioned in the lead paragraphs, 2020 will be seen as the year when electric cars really come of age. For example, BMW and Porsche in Germany have jointly developed what they are calling a “FastCharge” solution. They have a prototype that will power up their electric vehicles faster than ever before, adding sixty-two miles worth of juice in three minutes! Early days of course because at 450kW, there are no cars that could take it on, but it is a sign of things to come.
The Japanese brand Honda are also talking up an EV, available in 2022 they say, which, thanks to lighter construction and advanced batteries, will charge fully in fifteen minutes! It is lightly though that this will be an urban car with a lesser range.
The solution for now to ensuring that an EV can be charged as quickly as possible is to be fully aware of what the individual car is capable of; how much power it can take. Consider upgrading the supplied cable with a faster unit that still meets the parameters of the car by checking with an expert supplier. Think about adding a wall charger at home too. There are some great units available right now and they are surprisingly good value but always get a qualified electrician to do the job though. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and the home DIY-er might be in for a bit of a shock.
There we have it: If owners of ICE (internal combustion engine) cars thinking about making a change on the driveway for the first time in years (and, by association, doing their bit for the environment), they now have more options than ever before. Where choice was once restricted to yet another ICE motor, folk in the market for a new (and also used these days) car can now select from a selection of hybrid power vehicles, or better still, one of the latest and most efficient electric cars too.
Its a good question, but there is unfortunately no definitive answer because there are so many variables. This is not in itself a problem because all electric cars purchased should come with instructions, a charging cable and dealer support. Thus, if fast charging is a priority, then it pays to search out the right vehicle in advance.
Factors That Matter
Like humans, performance is governed by temperature. When it’s cold it takes us longer to get charged up and it’s the same for an electric vehicle; in the cold batteries are sluggish. That’s why an ageing conventional car battery struggles to turn over an engine in Winter.
Also speed of charging is governed by the size of battery in terms of capacity. The bigger the battery pack’s capacity, which is measured in kiloWatt hours (kWh), the longer it will take to store energy; that much is obvious. A fully discharged unit will take longer to charge than a part-charged top-up would. EV’s have different charging rates and can only be charge at the maximum charge rate the vehicle can accept, so if a cars maximum charge rate is just 7kW, there is no point in using a faster charger. Conversely, the time it takes to charge is also governed by the maximum rate of the point in use.
In short, charging time can be as little as thirty minutes or more than twelve hours. It’s all down to the battery/charger relationship. In reality, this is not something to be concerned about because the majority of experienced EV drivers top up throughout the day, depending upon need. It’s preferable to not risk an empty pack and a roadside emergency call by getting into the habit of quick boosts whenever the car is not being used, say in a supermarket car park or at work. More and more EV-enlightened employers are providing charging facilities.
About Rapid Chargers
Rapid EV chargers do as the name suggests, although governed by the factors mentioned above, and use one of two connector types known by the acronyms CCS and CHAdeMO. It is important to know the distinction being these types and the probable OE standard ev charging cable; there’s no harm in carrying a spare. Rapid chargers cost more, so best to use them only during long journeys for top-up purposes.
The Overnight Solution
It makes sense then that the main EV recharging will take place at home when the vehicle is idle for a few hours; this usually means overnight. It is possible to use a regular home three-pin socket but this is the slowest method of all and not recommended long term.
Most car brands will install a home charger designed specifically for the selected car or a good alternative would be to install (by a qualified electrician) a faster, wall-mounted home charger because these are not brand specific and thus can be repurposed for a new car with a new cable. As mentioned, most of our daily driving is usually under the capable mileage of even the smallest battery; EV’s with bigger packs, like the Tesla range, can easily manage with juice to spare.