Electric vehicles (EVs) vary a lot compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars when it comes to filling up. Traditionally, you’d wait until a red light flashes on your dashboard, pull into the nearest petrol station and stand at the pump for a minute or two – spending around £50 a time for the pleasure.
With EVs however, charging habits have adjusted and are more akin to how you charge your phone. The majority of electric car charging will be done as a ‘top-up’, when you’re at home, work, the gym or around town. With recent technology, these quick charges could get your car to full within an hour. You might even find that on a regular week you never charge your car from 0% to 100% as whenever there’s a plug available you utilise it. On long journeys though, you might be required to charge from empty to full before you can get going again. But with so many different batteries and charging speeds, how long does it actually take to charge an electric car?
Depending on the charging point, an electric car can go from empty to full in anywhere from an hour to 31 hours. The charging points installed at homes will typically be either 3.7kW or 7kW (as 22kW+ charging requires expensive additional work).
It’s worth noting too that all electric cars can charge with a higher power charger, as long as it’s a compatible plug. The vehicle will simply limit the power to the maximum amount it can handle.
For most vehicles, 50kW rapid chargers are the quickest way to get to 100%, providing a full battery (150-300 miles of range) after about an hour of charging. Some of the new EVs being released from incumbent manufacturers are compatible with 150kW charging, in addition to Tesla’s Model S, X and 3. 150kW chargers can provide up to 300 miles of range in under an hour, but despite these chargers making electric car ownership far easier, there are currently very few available across the UK.
Tesla’s Supercharger network has 382 points across the UK and BP’s Chargemaster opened its first 150kW chargers at Heathrow in August – but with only two charging points, the 400 charging points promised by 2021 look a long way off.
Therefore, when looking at charge times, 50kW chargers are a better indicator of rapid charging. They are far more common at service stations and en-route stops, making up 22% of the public charging infrastructure. The chargers found at urban destinations – such as workplaces, gyms or shopping centres – will range from 7kW to 22kW, so these are typically used to top-up for short periods of time.
“As evidenced, electric car owners are predominately opting for ‘top-up’ charges for a few hours at a time. Therefore, when choosing an electric car, the miles of range per hour of charging is a far better indicator of day-to-day use than total range. The private sector should also be actively encouraged to install chargers for staff and visitors to further combat range-anxiety” commented Paul Nash, Director of Creditplus.