Will it ever be just as quick to charge a car as it is to fill up with petrol?

We’re all too familiar with the limitations of owning an electric vehicle. Short range, high prices and the inconvenience of charging on the go. Currently, charging an electric car is nothing like the experience of filling a conventional ICE car up with petrol or diesel. It may cost a lot less to charge an EV but owners pay the price in time. However, the tides are changing and fast-charging technology is rapidly improving which has given us some confidence that soon enough, charging your electric car could be as quick and easy as filling up with fuel.

Renault Zoe 1

The fastest an EV can charge is currently at 62 miles in 4 minutes

At the time of writing this, 62 miles of charge in 4 minutes is the very fastest an EV can charge. The fast-charging technology is ever-changing though, so this figure will likely be beaten pretty quickly.

This figure comes from the yet-to-be-released Porsche Taycan (AKA the Porsche Mission E) which is set to go into production sometime next year. The Porsche will be able to gain 250 miles worth of charge in just 20 minutes and although it’s impressive compared to other EVs in the market, it’s still nothing like filling an ICE car up from empty to full in just 5 minutes.

Porsche Taycan 2

The problem with this impressive jump in charging speed that Porsche has achieved is that it can only be made possible with an 800-volt charger. To put it into perspective, the Tesla “superchargers” which are 120kW only charge at 400 volts and 250 amps, and they’re one of the fastest chargers available. These Porsche charging stations are cutting-edge and only exist in Porsche’s own headquarters, so until these 800-volt beasts are made more commonplace on the UK’s road, the “62 miles in 4 minutes” claim isn’t worth a dime.

Another thing that makes this impressive stat less exciting is that it can only be achieved on a Porsche. As you may have noticed, the majority of EVs on the road are reasonably priced hatchbacks, not German-engineered sports cars that cost an arm, a leg and a kidney. With that said, if Porsche can achieve fast-charging of 250 miles in 20 minutes it gives us confidence that manufacturers that sell more affordable electric cars can do so as well.

How quickly do today’s popular EVs charge?

  • The first gen Nissan Leaf 24 kWh can charge up to around 80 miles in 30 minutes when using a 50kW fast charger.
  • The second gen Nissan Leaf (40kWh) has proven to be less reliable when it comes to fast charging times, with reports of how long it takes varying more than usual. The car can take around 40 minutes to reach 80% or roughly 134 miles of range.
  • The Tesla Model S can charge up to 80% (between 195 and 250 miles depending on the model) in 40 minutes when using a 120kW Tesla “Supercharger”.
  • The Tesla Model X can charge up to 80% (either 165 or 225 miles depending on the model) in 40 minutes when using a 120kW Tesla “Supercharger”.
  • The Renault Zoe can charge up to 80% (between 80 and 148 miles depending on the model) in 1 hour when using a 43kW fast charger.
  • The BMW i3 can charge up to 80% (roughly 115 miles) in 35 mins when using a 50kW fast charger.
  • The Jaguar I-Pace can charge up to 80% (roughly 208 miles) in 40 mins when using a 100kW fast charger.
  • The VW e-Golf can charge up to 80% (roughly 120 miles) in 35 mins when using a 50kW fast charger.
  • The Hyundai IONIQ Electric can gain 62 miles of charge in about 25 minutes when using a 50kW fast charger.

So when will EV charging times be as quick as refuelling?

The problem with innovation in electric car charging is the infrastructure. Even if manufacturers can produce cars capable of charging up to 80% in 10 minutes, it can only be made possible with charging stations that are powerful enough to deliver the energy in such a short time. The technology, as proven by Porsche, already exists inside the cars but a car’s charging capability is only as good as the charging point it’s using.

Electric vehicle charging 4

For now, Tesla is leading the way in fast charging thanks to their 120 kW “Supercharger” points which are not exactly on every corner, but at the moment they’re virtually the only truly powerful charging points available. Tesla have also announced their new “Megachargers” which will be able to charge their electric lorries with 400 miles in just 30 minutes, so if they can be used with Tesla’s cars as well, it could bring greatly improved charging times to consumers.

In two or three years, manufacturers will likely be bragging about new battery tech which allows for their EV to gain over 150 miles after just 5 minutes of charging using a power source similar to that of the monstrous 800-volt power source that Porsche used, which again, is only useful if said 800-volt charging points are available for use on the road.

Tesla's charing 5

At the moment, charging an EV is more of a “stop at services, go to the loo and get something to eat” kind of stop, rather than a “stop at a petrol station for 5 minutes” kind of stop and it’ll probably be this way for another 10 years at least. We won’t be seeing 5 minute charge times until the government and manufactures begin spending large amounts of money on installing state-of-the-art charging stations throughout the UK. We’re staying optimistic, but how do you feel about the current state of EV fast charging?

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