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26/08/2020 News

Charging your electric vehicle: understanding charging time

 

ICE* vehicle drivers have the same ritual: going to service station to refuel their vehicle. When it comes to electric mobility, electric vehicle (EV) jostles this habit. Indeed, EV drivers can fill up their cars in many different places: at service stations, but also and above all in individual homes, condominiums, businesses, on roadways, shops… In short, all places where a vehicle can be parked.

The charging time issue is one of the drivers’ main concerns, and yet, a quick charge is not necessary for a smooth and effortless EV experience. On average, a car is parked 95% of its time. For an EV, this means parking represents an opportunity for charging. In practice, 80% of electric charging will occur at home or at work, where “normal" charging is preferred, as these are places where cars usually stay parked for several hours. All things considered, the need for a quick charge is particularly suitable for long journeys, on the way to a holiday destination for instance, or for an extensive use of a vehicle, e.g for mobile sales people, service vehicles or self-employed drivers.

 

EV charging time: elements you need to know to better understand how it works

 

It is essential to stress charging time does not only rely on the power of the charger. Charging time relies on several variables:

 

1. Power delivered during your charging session

Power is measured in kW (or kVA**) and may vary throughout the charging session. It depends mainly on three key elements: 

  • Power issued by the charger you plugged your EV on: if you plug on a 43 kW charger a car accepting up to 100 kW, the charge power will not exceed 43 kW.  The power range may vary from 3.7 kW to 350 kW. This power will be determine by the chosen technology: AC chargers deliver up to 43 kW, while DC chargers allow much higher power levels, up to 350 kW as of today.

  • Power charging accepted by your EV: the power each vehicle can tolerate differs from an EV to another. If your EV accepts up to 22 kW and you plug it on a 43 kW charge point, the power charge will not exceed 22 kW.
     
  • Your battery charge level: like charging a cellphone, EV charging speed will depend on the battery level. Usually, an EV will spend as much time charging its battery between 20% and 80%, than between 80% and 100%. You can therefore optimize your charging times and rather charge your vehicle when your battery level is not too high. 

 

2. The electric vehicle battery capacity 

Quite alike the volume of fuel tanks on ICE vehicles (measured in liters), batteries capacity - measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) - is not the same on all electric vehicles. For both, the capacity determines your vehicle range and, in the case of EVs, it also determines your charging time.

 

3. Other elements can influence EV charging time

  • Climate conditions: very high temperatures will affect chargers, especially high-power ones. In case of very high temperatures, a security system can be activated to clamp or turn off a charging session to avoid incidents.
  • Using the adequate cable to top-up an EV is important too, as it must accept the power that will delivered by the charge point. Otherwise, the power level will be “restricted”.

    For further information about charging times, you will find online charging time simulators such as the ones displayed by EVCompare or je-roule-en-electrique.fr. This last project is developped with the partnership of TOTAL. To know more, you can check our Projects and Innovation page.
    Also, to meet the diversity of charging uses, TOTAL offers a wide range of charge points adapted to professionals and individual needs. Discover our products and services by clicking here.

    * Internal Combustion Engine

    ** AC chargers power is sometimes measured in kVA, which is an equivalent to kW.