The charging time of an electric car depends on the charging power in kW of the socket on the charging station, the maximum power accepted by the vehicle's onboard charger, the type of cable used and, of course, on the capacity of the on-board storage system and charge level.
Typically, an average car with a 25 kWh battery takes:
- 8 hours to charge fully at home (with an average power of 3 kW);
- 2 hours to charge fully at faster charging stations (with power between 7.4 and 22 kW);
- 30 minutes to charge fully at the fastest charging stations (with power between 43 kW and 50 kW).
Normally, electric car batteries operate at a nominal voltage of 400 Volts. However, in recent years, models with a voltage of 800 Volts have been introduced, which provides an advantage for achieving higher charging power and thus reduced refueling times, as power is the product of voltage (expressed in Volts) and current intensity (expressed in Amperes).
As we will see, the most sophisticated electric cars are capable of accepting direct current charges from ultrafast stations, which can have powers even greater than 100 kW, allowing for a full charge (or up to 80%) in just a few minutes. Any car can be charged at home using a standard Schuko socket, the same as many household appliances, thanks to a cable connected to a Control Box that ensures the safety of the operation. In this case, the charge is usually limited to 10 A and 2.3 kW of power, resulting in relatively long but still acceptable charging times, especially if the charging takes place at night.
However, those interested can request the installation of a home charging station, known as a Wall Box, typically mounted on a wall. Since the single-phase household system operates at a voltage of 230 Volts, the choice for 3.7 kW and 7.4 kW wallboxes is almost natural, especially for the former, as many household contracts are limited to 3 kW.
The Dacia Spring with a 27.4 kWh battery can recover from 15% to 80% of its charge in 5 hours and 25 minutes using a 3.7 kW Wall Box.
Alternatively, it's possible to upgrade to a three-phase system with a voltage of 400 Volts to achieve powers of up to 22 kW. In this scenario, the charging time for an electric car at home is similar to what you would get from alternating current charging in public areas, which will be detailed further in the next paragraph.
Public charging stations typically operate at a voltage of 400 Volts (or even 800 Volts for faster stations) and with maximum powers increasing up to 22 kW. In this case, the question of how long it takes to recharge an electric car doesn't lead to a single answer.
Alternate current charging stations with Type 2 connectors usually operate up to 22 kW, but powers of up to 43 kW can be reached when the cable is connected to the charging infrastructure.
With an alternate current charging station, the remaining range of an electric Fiat 500, which can accept up to 11 kW, can be increased from 15% to 80% in less than three hours.
Higher powers are provided by direct current charging stations. In this case, the question of how long it takes to recharge an electric car can lead to surprising answers: vehicles capable of accepting very high powers may only require 20 or 30 minutes to reach 80% charge, which is the time for a short break at an Autogrill (a common rest stop on Italian highways). Moreover, ultrafast or HPC (High Power Charging) stations, no longer a dream on the highway network, are capable of delivering charges with powers up to 350 kW.
If you're wondering how long it takes to charge an electric car at ultrafast stations, here are some examples:
- 18 minutes to charge from 10% to 80% of the battery for the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6.
- 22 minutes and 30 seconds to charge from 5% to 80% of the battery for the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT.
After considering the duration of electric car charging, it's time to list the factors that influence charging time:
- First and foremost, the maximum charging power of the charging station: the higher it is, the faster the vehicle can charge its battery, but not all cars can accept high-power charges.
- The available network power at the moment: if the network is under stress, the charge could be delivered at a lower power than what the station can provide.
- The presence of multiple vehicles connected to the same charging station: if more than one vehicle is connected to the same charging station, the available power for each vehicle is reduced, extending refueling times.
- The maximum alternate current charging power acceptable by the vehicle's internal charger, which in many cases can't receive more than 11 kW.
- The cable: this is a factor related to Mode 3 charging, which in most cases is done using a cable not integrated into the charging infrastructure.
- The maximum direct current charging power acceptable by the vehicle: as mentioned before, modern ultrafast direct current stations in Italy are capable of charging at powers of 300/350 kWh, but only some high-end vehicles with an 800 Volt battery can fully utilize them.
- Energy dispersion: although almost negligible, it also affects charging time.
It should be noted that the acceptable charging power for both alternate current and, especially, direct current is generally adapted to the vehicle's characteristics. Cars with large batteries and thus long travel ranges can now handle the powers of ultrafast stations. If the car is more suited for city driving with a smaller capacity battery, a charging power of 50 kW, still considerable, will suffice for a quick energy "fill-up."