Car charging capabilities
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As the charging experience is an important aspect of electric vehicle ownership it is important to at least be aware of the charging capabilities of your vehicle of choice.
Most modern electric vehicles can charge on both alternating current - AC chargers (typically slower i.e. used to charge overnight or at work) and direct current - DC chargers (mostly fast – i.e. used to charge on roadtrips). However not all electric vehicles can charge at the same speed from chargers as the charging speed is a function of both the power of the charger and the cars capabilities.
Typical 7kW AC charger
Typical 50kW DC charger
A car which is limited to 7kW AC charging, will not be able to use more than 7kW at an AC charging station regardless if the station can supply more power.
Similar limitations exist when it comes to DC charging speeds. It is good to illustrate this with an example comparing two hypothetical cars. Car A can not charge at speeds higher than 43kW on DC chargers, whilst car B supports a maximum DC charging speed of over 100 kW. As a result recharging car B from a low battery state should take significantly less time at a high powered DC charger. (It should be noted that due to battery lithium ion battery technology limitations DC charging speed often decreases after a car’s battery is 60% or more full).
In contrast when it comes to AC charging car A has a quicker AC recharging speed as it can recharge at a max of 22 kW vs “only” 7 kW for car B.
To put this into perspective as of January 2021 the cars with the quickest recharging capabilities are the Tesla Model 3 and the Porsche Taycan, both of which can charge at over 200kW on DC chargers that are capable of supplying such power. This means that in principle these cars can gain the most amount of range per minute of charging time.
Another important factor to consider are the types of connectors the cars are compatible with. In Europe the Type 2 connector is most commonly found at AC charging stations and most cars come equipped with it. Similarly in Europe most electric vehicle car models use the CCS connector for DC charging. This connector supports the highest charging speeds of over 200kW. Nonetheless some cars are only compatible with a different DC charging connector called CHAdeMO, which does not so far support such high charging speeds and as it is not supported by most manufacturers might become less popular in Europe in the future. These factors should be properly considered whilst selecting an electric vehicle, to “future-proof” such a purchase.