How long does it take to charge an electric car

How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

“How long does it take to charge an electric car?” is one of the first questions first-time shoppers have. Among a few other things, charging is a big concern.

Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way in just 10 years, however, new EV buyers are still concerned about charging duration. 

With the conventional internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV), or gas/diesel car, refueling takes a matter of a couple minutes. Additionally, gas stations are currently found at just about every major intersection or freeway off ramp. 

On the other hand, EVs, being much new technology, have a bit of a different situation. While charging stations are being built at a rapid pace, they are not as common as gas stations. Furthermore, electric car charging is also not at the same rate as gasoline. 

And to add a little more complexity, not all EVs or charging stations charge at the same rate. Each EV has a certain limit to the amount of power its battery can handle. Likewise, each charging station is also limited to the amount of power it can provide. 

DC Fast Charging
Electrify America DCFC Station

In efforts to simplify things, here is a quick review on how long does it take to charge an electric car. To clarify, this article will only discuss DC charging. Information on AC charging can be found here. 

Determining how long does it take to charge an electric car requires a few known factors. The first of which is the vehicle’s max charging rate. 

EV Max Charging Rate

Each all-electric car has a maximum charge rate. That is to say each vehicle’s battery can only handle a certain amount of incoming power. Once that limit is reached, the car won’t accept any further power.

Some EVs can charge at a max rate of 50 kW (such as the Chevy Bolt) while others can charge up to 250 kW (such as the Tesla Model 3 or Model Y). 

The higher amount of power the vehicle can accept, the faster it will charge.

Charging Station Max Charging Rate

Another factor that plays a role in how long does it take to charge an electric car is the maximum charge rate of the charging station. Like the max rate of the EV, the charging station itself is also limited to the amount of power it can output. 

Previously, DC Fast Charging (DCFC) public charging stations had a max output of 50 kW. Even if an electric car that is capable of charging over 150 kW pulls up to charge, that vehicle will only charge at a maximum of 50 kW due to the limitation of the charger.

Tesla Supercharger Station

Today, the next generation of DCFC are being built and are capable of charging up to 350 kW. That is a significant improvement from the last generation of chargers. On the flip side, even if the charger is capable of 350 kW but the car is limited to 150 kW, the charge power will be limited to 150 kW due to the max charge rate of the car. 

And then there is Tesla. Tesla has its own, proprietary charging network called the Supercharger Network. These DCFC can charge at a max rate of 250 kW, which match some of their models such as the Model S or Model X. 

Battery Size

The size of the battery plays a large role in determining the time it take to charge. Simply put, the smaller the battery, the shorter the charge duration. 

Nissan Leaf Battery Pack | Image Courtesy: Nissan

Given the same charge rate and a few other factors, a 60 kWh battery will charge in less time than a 100 kWh battery. 

DC Fast Charging Charge Curve

This factor can get a bit wonky so I’ll do my best to reduce it to a tangible amount. In efforts to prolong the longevity of the battery, manufacturers have implemented charge curves on EV batteries. 

In essence, while the EV may have a max charge rate of say 100 kW, it will not charge at that rate consistently throughout the charging session. Instead, it will peak at that rate in a bell curve fashion. Once the battery reaches around 60 or 70% state of charge, it will begin to taper the charge rate. 

Again, this is to protect the battery’s health. That is why it is often recommended to only charge at a DCFC station to 80%. After 80%, the charge rate significantly reduces to a point where it is better to hit the road and find another charger a couple hundred miles away than to sit at the current charger for a few extra more miles. 

Here are a few examples of DCFC charge curves courtesy of Fastned and EV-Database

Battery Temperature

Lastly, the temperature of the battery can affect the time it takes to charge an EV. Batteries are somewhat like Goldilocks–they don’t like being too hot and don’t like being too cold. 

When the ambient temperature is significant on either end, the EV will need to condition the battery so that it can safely handle the incoming charge. This system, known as a Thermal Management System (TMS), protects the battery’s health just like the charge curve. 

How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?
Hyundai Kona EV | Image courtesy: Hyundai

When the weather is very hot or very cold, the battery will need to be conditioned. This process will add duration to the charging session.  

How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?

So after all of that, how long does it take to charge an electric car? Well, it really just depends on all of those aforementioned factors. Nevertheless, the typical EV today can charge to 80% in about 30 minutes. 

Here are general estimates of popular models:

VehicleCharge Duration to 80%
Tesla Model Y22 Minutes
Tesla Model 323 Minutes
Audi e-tron26 Minutes
Tesla Model S38 Minutes
Tesla Model X38 Minutes
Hyundai Kona EV44 Minutes
Kia Niro EV44 Minutes
Jaguar I-Pace44 Minutes
Nissan Leaf62 Minutes
Chevy Bolt66 Minutes

Closing Thoughts

As stated at the beginning of this article, charging is very well a stumbling block to many first time EV shoppers. It requires a decent amount of information and even some math to calculate. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as a 5 minute fill up at a gas station. 

Electric Car Charging Basics
Electric Car Charging Basics

That being said, these DCFC sessions are few and far between. Most EV drivers charge overnight at home or throughout the day at work. During these particular charging sessions, the driver isnt very aware of how long it took to charge since they are completing other tasks while the vehicle charges.

If any of this is still just too much for you, but you are still interested in making the switch to electric, feel free to reach out to me as your personal electric car consultant. Get started today with a free consultation.