One of the biggest limitations of electric vehicles (EVs) is their charging time. Depending on various factors, it can take minutes to hours to charge the battery enough to let you drive a good distance without worrying about running out of power. In comparison, pumping gas only takes a few minutes, which saves a lot of time.
But as technology improves, charging might get faster in the future. But will it get fast enough to match the speed at which gas is pumped into an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle?
How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?
Electric vehicles can charge as fast as 30 minutes or more than 24 hours. The charging speed depends on the speed of the charging point and the size of the EV’s battery.
Can EVs Charge As Fast As Pumping Gas?
Yes, it’s a possibility in the future. Researchers and manufacturers are working on improving batteries and chargers alike to cut down on EV charge times.
EV Charging Tech and Fast Chargers
EV chargers are classified into three levels, which charge EVs at different speeds.
Level 1 charging stations run on the 120-volt alternating (AC) power outlets in most households. They turn that into 1.3 to 2.4 kilowatts (kW). Depending on how big and discharged the battery is, a Level 1 charger can take up to two days to fully charge the energy storage device.
Level 2 stations use a higher, 240-volt AC outlet and produce more output (4-18 kW), so they can charge most EVs in 21 hours or less. Many homes, workplaces, and public locations have these chargers.
Level 3 chargers are found in EV charging stations, dealerships, and charging areas in commercial fleet companies. Most of them deliver 50 to 150 kW of power. Also called DC fast chargers, they can charge the battery on some EVs to 80 percent within 15-45 minutes.
Why Do Fast Chargers Perform Better Than Other Chargers?
Fast chargers supply direct current (DC), which is the only type of energy that EVs can store. That means the current provided by fast chargers goes straight into the battery.
On the other hand, Level 1 and 2 chargers deliver alternating current (AC). So the EV must convert AC into DC before it can send the electricity to the battery. It takes time to convert AC into DC, which accounts for the longer charging times.
Moreover, DC can carry higher voltage than AC. A DC fast charger generates several times the amount of output that the best Level 2 charger can offer.
It can take hours or days to charge an EV on a Level 1 or 2 charger. Many drivers compensate for this by charging their electric cars overnight. By charging during off-peak hours when electricity costs less and they’re asleep, they save both time and the electric bill.
Ultra Fast Charging
While fast chargers outperform their Level 1 and 2 counterparts, they’re still slower than the tried-and-tested gasoline pump. That’s where “ultra-fast chargers” come in. The next generation of battery and charging technologies promise to deliver charging times that leave current fast chargers in the dust.
800-Volt EV Architecture
One way to improve charging times is to upgrade electric vehicle architecture to a higher standard of performance. Most EV systems are designed to run on 400 to 450 volts.
Many manufacturers have begun to introduce 800-volt architecture.
Switching to higher-voltage EV architecture offers several improvements. An 800-volt system weighs less than its predecessors, which helps the EV can save on the power it usually uses to propel a machine of its weight.
The new EV system also boasts higher thermal efficiency. By running cooler, it delivers better performance, longer service lives, and improved safety from overheating and electrical fires.
An 800-volt system also offers more mileage than earlier systems. It can store more power, which translates to an increased range for EVs.
Last but not least, an EV with an 800-volt system teases the possibility of faster charging times with the right charger designed for its superior capabilities. It runs on higher voltages, so it can handle more kilowatts–up to 350 kW.
Faster DC Chargers
For the 800-volt EV architecture to attain the prevalence of earlier 400-volt and 450-volt systems, it will need compatible charging infrastructure. That means building EV charging stations.
The typical Level 3 fast charger is designed for 400-volt systems. While it can charge an 800-volt system, it can’t take advantage of the newer architecture’s higher voltage capacity.
Plugging an 800-volt EV into a 400-volt DC fast charger is like hooking up a water tanker truck to a garden hose. It will fill up, but it’ll take forever.
There are several 800-volt DC fast chargers in service. These chargers can provide up to 350 kW. Tritium and Electrify America have added at least one 350-kW charger to many of their public charging stations to support future 800-volt EV systems.
Along with 800-volt architecture and corresponding DC chargers, EVs will also need better batteries that last longer, store more energy, release power faster, and operate more stably.
Battery manufacturers are working on solid-state energy storage devices to meet those needs. A type of lithium-ion battery, the solid-state battery replaces liquid electrolytes with solid materials.
Fastest Charging EVs
Interested to know what EVs charge the fastest? Here are the five models that won’t keep you waiting for long when it comes to charging:
- Lucid Air
- Porsche Taycan
- Tesla Model 3
- Kia EV6
- Hyundai Ioniq 5
Charging time: 20+ minutes for 300 miles
Mileage on Full Charge: 520 miles
The Lucid Air redefines luxury for an electric car. It has the longest range of any EV that meets the rigorous standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Designed and manufactured by a California-based company, the Air is a pricey but excellent luxury EV.
Charging time: Four minutes for 62 miles
Mileage on full charge: 323 miles
Intended to challenge the dominance of the Tesla Model S, the Porsche Taycan is designed to charge quickly when its battery runs low. You can drive up to an EV charging station, plug the charger into it, buy a drink, and come back to find the electric car ready to go for the next 60-plus miles.
Tesla Model 3
Charging time: 15 minutes for up to 175 miles
Mileage on full charge: 358 miles
America’s best-selling EV can rapidly charge up to 80% of its battery capacity using the Tesla Supercharger at the company’s charging station network. Its Long Range version comes with a large-capacity battery that lets you drive further.
Charging time: Less than 18 minutes to charge from 10% to 80%, less than 5 minutes for 70 miles with a 350 kW charger
Mileage on full charge: 232-310 miles depending on the battery
Kia’s first dedicated electric car, the EV6 crossover debuts with an 800-volt EV architecture designed for 350 kW charging. It offers several options when it comes to battery size and powertrain drive.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Charging time: 18 minutes to charge from 10% to 80% with a 350 kW charger
Mileage on full charge: 256 miles (all-wheel drive) and 303 miles (rear-wheel drive)
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is an all-electric SUV that seats five people. It has similar charging times and mileage as the Kia EV6.
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