How fast does an electric vehicle charge?
Electric vehicles (or EVs) have been getting more and more attention over the last few years. This is thanks to the likes of Tesla hyping up the industry, an increasing concern for the environment and Governments incentivising their population to switch to this more environmentally friendly private mobility alternative to meet their decarbonisation goals. You might be thinking about getting an EV yourself but are wondering how this might affect your experience of owning a car. In this article we will have a look at the time it takes to charge an EV and how this compares to petrol cars.
Without diving into too much detail, charging a car is very much like charging a phone. In both cases, the time you will have to wait before it’s fully charged mainly depends on 3 factors:
The amount of energy that was left in the battery when it was plugged in
The capacity (or size) of the battery
The power of the charger you are using
While the first factor is quite self-explanatory, it is worth it to have a quick look at the two others to understand what’s is meant by them.
The time (in hours) it will take to charge your battery from 0 to 100% can be found by dividing your battery’s capacity by the power of the charger you are using. E.g. Fully charging a 40 kWh Nissan Leaf on a 20 kW charger will take 2 hours.
The battery capacity of any electronic device (EVs included) is usually what decides how long they can be used for, until you have to charge them again. For EVs, this value is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and a larger battery capacity equates to more range on a fully charged battery. Nowadays, cars like the Rivian R1T have battery sizes of up to 180kWh which equates to over 600km (400mi.) of range on a fully charged battery. However, larger batteries can be seen as larger “electricity containers” and therefore will take longer to fill up.
Finding an EVs battery capacity is usually very easy, it will normally show up as one of the first specifications of the vehicle and might sometimes even be included in the car’s model. It is good to keep in mind that a battery’s capacity will decrease over time.
Hearing something like: “I love my new phone charger, it charges my phone like twice as fast as the previous one” is not an uncommon thing. This is due to the charger’s power rating. For EV chargers, this value is measured in kilowatts (kW) and it determines how fast energy is pumped into a battery. Therefore, a more powerful charger will fill up an EV up faster. To simplify this, we usually separate EV chargers in 3 categories depending on their power, but the exact limits for each category can vary:
“Slow” chargers -- under 7 kW
“Fast” chargers -- 7 to 25 kW
“Rapid” chargers -- over 25kW
However, it is important to note that Rapid chargers, the most powerful ones, are very expensive to manufacture and install which makes them expensive to use as well. Also, there is a limit on how fast energy can be pumped into an EV and not all EVs are capable of charging on a Rapid charger.
Because of this, and many other reasons, we unfortunately can’t just build ultra Rapid chargers everywhere and have everyone charge their EV in 3 minutes. Therefore, most of the chargers installed have power ratings between 3 and 22 kWh and are meant to charge most cars overnight.
Putting them together
Now that we know which factors determine the charging time of an EV, calculating the time it will take to charge it from 0 to 100% is easy! All we need to do is divide the battery capacity of the vehicle by the power of the charger we want to use.
For example, if we have a Nissan Leaf with a battery capacity of 40 kWh:
Using a 20 kW charger, it will take 2 hours to charge our car
Using a 40 kW charger, it will take 1 hour to charge our car.
Using a 80 kW charger, it will take 30 minutes to charge our car.
So will I be able to charge my EV as fast as I refill my petrol car?
While there are no chargers available that can charge even the smallest EV batteries in a minute, like we would at a petrol station, there are chargers that can do it in ~15 minutes. However, charging an EV shouldn't be seen the same as re-filling a petrol car. Cars stay unused most of the time and any moment a car is not is use can be seen as a moment it could be charging. Also, while it is not possible to install multiple petrol stations on each street or in people’s garages, we can definitely do this for low power chargers. This would essentially create a network of chargers that is available everywhere we go.
However, it is crucial that this network is easily accessible to EV drivers. This is why, at Bonnet, we are building a solution that allows EV drivers to access and pay for every single EV charger in the most straightforward way. You will soon be able to check out our awesome features in our free to use app, available on iOS and Android!