At home, at a highway rest stop or a service station, there are an increasing number of electric vehicle charging points. But the charging time varies depending on a number of parameters.
How long does it take to “fill up” an electric vehicle? For several years now, manufacturers have been vying for the most ingenious way to achieve the fastest possible charge. But overall, the charging time depends on several factors.
This is definitely the most determining factor, not least because the wattage can vary significantly: from 2.3 kW to 250 kW. It depends on the type of installation: a domestic power outlet, a Wallbox, a public charging station or a fast charge station located, for example, at highway service stations.
Given in kilowatt hours (kWh), it determines the vehicle’s range, i.e. the longest distance it can cover between charges. For example, by going from a 41 kWh battery to a 52 kWh battery, the new Renault ZOE increased its range by nearly 80 km .
The larger the battery capacity, the longer the vehicle’s range… and the longer it takes to fully recharge the battery. On the same charging station, an electric car with a range of 100 km WLTP* will reach full charge faster than one with a rangeof 300 km WLTP*.
Plus, to reach optimal recharging frequency it is sometimes wise to only partially recharge the battery. This is because it is proportionally faster to charge the first 80% of the battery than the remaining 20%. For example, during a break at a highway service station the New ZOE and its Z.E. 50 battery can go from 30% to 80% charge in just 42 minutes using a fast charge station.
Aside from the occasional use charging cable, which is generally supplied by the manufacturer and can be plugged into a standard domestic power outlet, a different type of power cable is needed to use the various types of charging stations. Not all models can withstand the same wattage, and some (single-phase cables) are limited to 7.4 kW. Triple-phase cables, however, can withstand up to 22 kW.
For example, plugging a cable that is limited to 7.4 kW into an 11 kW charging station will hinder the vehicle’s charging ability.
In case of very low temperatures, it can potentially take longer to charge your electric vehicle. Conversely, high temperatures can bring charging to a temporary halt for safety reasons.
There are two ways to charge your electric vehicle at home. The first consists of plugging your vehicle directly into a domestic power outlet using the cable provided by the manufacturer (such as the Renault flexi-charger). This solution is cheaper, but it is also the slowest since the power supply wattage is limited. It may take more than 24 hours for the battery to reach full charge. The exception to the rule is the Renault Twizy, which reaches full charge in 3 hours 30 minutes when plugged into a standard power outlet.
While recharging on a domestic power outlet is not advisable for the sake of your home’s electric system, a second option recommended by electric vehicle manufacturers is to have a installed in your home. This is a wall-mounted box connected to the electrical panel via a dedicated circuit. This means safer charging that is also faster. With 3.7 kW, 7.4 kW or even 22 kW (three phase) wattage, the Wallbox delivers a far better performance than a standard power outlet. Consequently, the charging time can be divided by two or three.
Good to know: to go with this option it’s often necessary to switch to a different plan with your energy supplier.
Public charging stations, which can be found for example in some parking lots or near shopping centers, have a similar design to the Wallbox. They feature similar performance (from 3.7 kW to 11 kW to 22 kW), with a charging time that varies depending on the wattage that the car can handle. For example, a vehicle that can only take a 10 kW charge will not get full power from a 22 kW charging station, except with the Caméléon charger that comes with the Renault ZOE for example. Its plus is that it’s compatible with all charging station designs, which results in optimal charging speeds wherever you use it!
Fast charge stations, which are most commonly found at filling stations or highway service stations, make it possible to charge an electric vehicle in a particularly short time. The stations’ wattage is very high – from 50 kW to some 250 kW for those known as ultra-fast charge stations. However, since electric cars vary in terms of their ability to withstand high-wattage charging, the charging time can vary between models. Good news: in Europe, fast charging stations are set to continue growing in number. For example, the E-Via program, backed by Groupe Renault, aims to roll out a corridor of fast charge (50 kW) stations across Italy, France and Spain.
Though the New ZOE, with its Z.E. 50 battery, features a higher battery capacity than its predecessor (having gone from 41 kW to 52 kW), there are also new developments to highlight as regards charging. It has kept its type 2 connector, which enables charging with alternating current (AC). On a Wallbox with 7 kW wattage, it will take it 9 hours 30 minutes to reach full charge, i.e. 395 km (WLTP). It will reach enough charge for a range of 125 km (WLTP*) in one hour at a 22 kW charging station, and in two hours when plugged into an 11 kW charging station.
Finally, the Renault ZOE now comes with a second connector enabling fast direct current (DC) charging. This means that it can withstand wattage of up to 50 kW. That being the case, the 2019 generation of the ZOE will only need a 30-minute charge to reach a range of 150 km (WLTP*).
* WLTP combined cycle range (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure, standardized cycle: 57% city driving, 25% suburban driving, 18% highway driving).