How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Will it take four minutes, four hours or four days to charge an electric car? Wonder no more as the answers lie below

James Wilson
Jun 6, 2022

It may seem like the simplest of questions; ‘How long does it take to charge an electric car?’, but in reality finding a straightforward answer is something of a nightmare. Part of the reason for this is there is more than one way to charge an electric car and the different options can each have an impact on charge times.

There is one very important abbreviation to understand when talking about charging and that is ‘kWh’, which stands for ‘kilo-Watt-hour’. When applied to batteries this means how many kilowatts a battery can supply in an hour. For example, a 4kWh battery can supply 4kW for an hour before it dies. You can take this one step further and say that the same battery could supply 2kW for two hours, 1kW for four hours or 8kW for half an hour.

The maths also works in reverse, which is handy for quickly working out approximately how long it will take to charge a battery. It isn’t an exact science but it will provide a rough idea. To get started, you will need to know the size of the battery being charged and the rating of the power supply that will be charging it - the latter will be given as a ‘kW’ figure.

As an example, if you have a 10kWh battery pack and a 2kW power supply, it will take five hours to charge (the size of the battery, 10, divided by the power rating, 2). If that same battery was plugged into a 20kW power supply, it would take 30 minutes to charge.

There are a couple of real-world considerations to keep in mind with the above calculation. One is the type of electricity supply being used, as there are two types (AC and DC). We won't go through the science behind these but keep in mind that when charging using AC - the type of electricity most households have - a car is limited by its onboard charging hardware (sometimes called the ‘onboard charger’). Most electric cars are typically capped at 7kW or 11kW, though there are some exceptions.

Things soon speed up with a DC power supply, as the onboard charger is no longer a bottleneck. There is still a limit to how much power an electric car can handle, though. For smaller cars, this limit is often in the 22kW to 50kW range but with more expensive electric cars you can be looking at up to 200kW, or more.

Below are four examples of typical electric cars and how long it takes to charge them using slow, fast and rapid chargers. Generally speaking, a standard domestic plug socket will supply 2.3kW, a fast one somewhere between 7kW and 22kW and a rapid charger will typically supply at least 50kW, but they can go way beyond 100kW. Rapid chargers over 100kW are less common and only available through companies like Ionity which have chargers in places such as service stations that drivers can pay to use.

One last item to cover before looking at some example electric car charging times is why rapid charge times are normally quoted at up to 80% battery capacity. This is due to the general consensus that it is bad for battery health to rapid charge all the way to full. As a result, even if a car was plugged into a 100kW charger, once it reached 80% charge, the power supply would start to ramp down - thus increasing the charge time to more than you'd expect on paper, if you need to get to 100% battery charge.

Small electric car charge times

Vauxhall Corsa-e

The Vauxhall Corsa-e is an electric alternative to petrol and diesel-powered Corsas. Aside from the high-voltage electronics, the Vauxhall shares a lot with its fossil fuel-powered siblings, including a nicely designed cabin and smart looks.

Vauxhall offers one battery pack with the Corsa-e and it is rated at 50kWh. According to official tests, this means more than 200 miles of range is possible from a full charge. Numbers like this give the Vauxhall an advantage over electric cars such as the Mini Electric (up to 145 miles from a charge) and Honda e (up to 137 miles) - both of which are smaller than the Corsa.

There is also the Peugeot e-208 which is similar in size and range to the Corsa (and closely related under the skin, as Peugeot and Vauxhall are part of the same parent company), and the Renault Zoe, which is again similar in size but it has a longer range at 239 miles. With the Corsa-e there is the choice of two onboard chargers, one is rated up to 7.4kW and the other 11kW.

As with all cars (electric, petrol and diesel) official range and economy numbers should be viewed as best case scenarios. In the real world cars rarely achieve as high as official figures due to many factors, including how hilly your routes are, the amount of traffic and start-stop driving encountered, how windy it is (try cycling into wind and you will soon understand the difference a gust or two can make) and how hot or cold it is.

Batteries have to be kept in a specific temperature range to perform as efficiently as possible, so they sometimes have to use energy to maintain this, which is why colder weather can limit the range possible.

Below is a table showing the typical charge times for a Vauxhall Corsa-e, although you can expect identical figures from the Vauxhall Mokka-e, Vauxhall Combo-e and Vauxhall Vivaro-e, Peugeot e-208, Peugeot e-2008, Peugeot e-Rifter, Peugeot e-Traveller, DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, Citroen e-C4, Citroen e-Berlingo and Citroen e-SpaceTourer, which all use the same 50kWh battery.

Model/batteryBuyaCar priceSlow charging (2.3kW)Fast charging (7.4kW)Rapid charging (100kW)
Vauxhall Corsa-e 50kWhFrom £23,26924-25 hours7-8 hours30 minutes (0-80%)

 

Based on the fact the Vauxhall Corsa-e comes with a 50kWh battery pack, it should cost roughly £15 to charge - assuming a cost of 30p/kWh for electricity. If your electricity rate is as low as 7.5p/kWh, this would drop to just £3.75.

Assuming a real-world range of 175 miles per charge, less than £4 is very cheap. For comparison, a petrol car averaging 45mpg that is filled up at £1.48 per litre will cost around £26 to travel 175 miles. These costs are liable to change, as electricity and petrol and diesel prices fluctuate.

Medium-size electric car charge times

Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai Ioniq Electric front three quarters view

Hyundai launched the Ioniq as an alternative to the well-known Toyota Prius. However, as time has progressed and more and more drivers look to battery-powered cars, the Ioniq has become a viable option to mainstream models like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. This is mostly due to its size, which makes it a good family car, and it comes with a long list of standard equipment.

Over the course of the Ioniq’s life, it has been available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric car - we're focusing on the electric version here. At first, the Ioniq electric came with a 28kWh battery but in 2020 a 38.3kWh unit was introduced. Range figures come in at 174 and 193 miles, respectively.

Note that these figures cannot really be compared directly, as the smaller battery pack was tested using an older, less accurate method, while the newer model was subject to the more life-like WLTP testing. As a result, its real-world range is likely to be further from the official figure than the larger pack tested under newer rules. The charge times for both battery packs are listed below.

Model/batteryBuyaCar priceSlow charging (2.3kW)Fast charging (7.4kW)Rapid charging (50kW)
Hyundai Ioniq 28kWhFrom £17,99512-13 hours6 hours30 minutes (20-80%)
Hyundai Ioniq 38.3kWh19 hours6 hours57 minutes (0-80%)

 

Drivers paying 30p/kWh for their electricity will pay £11.49 to top up the 38.3kWh model or £8.40 for the 28kWh model. These can be fully charged for as little as £2.87 or £2.10 respectively on a cheaper 7.5p/kWh electricity tariff.

Electric SUV charge times

BMW iX3

The BMW iX3 is a great electric SUV. BMW has found a good balance between strong performance and everyday usability. The iX3 can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in a quick 6.8 seconds - that's as fast as a lot of hot hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta ST - yet it has a 510-litre boot which is large enough to handle a good amount of luggage. Build quality is another strong point, with this BMW feeling very well put together.

Regardless of trim, all iX3 models come with an 80kWh battery pack. This translates to an official range of up to 286 miles per charge, which is reportedly pretty accurate when the iX3 is driven in the real world. For range, the BMW sits in between the two main alternatives - the Mercedes EQC (252 miles from an 80kWh battery) and the Jaguar I-Pace (292 miles from a 90kWh battery).

Model/batteryBuyaCar priceSlow charging (2.3kW)Fast charging (7.4kW)Rapid charging (150kW)
BMW iX3 80kWhLimited stock35 hours11-12 hours27 minutes (10-80%)

 

Being that the BMW iX3 has a relatively large battery pack, it costs significantly more than the Hyundai and Vauxhall mentioned before in charging terms. A full charge using a 30p/kWh supply will cost £24 and this drops to £6 with an 7.5p/kWh supply. A diesel BMW X3 would cost around £43 at £1.52 per litre of diesel with fuel economy of 41mpg.

Large electric car charge times

Mercedes EQS

Right at the top of the electric car tree sit cars like the Mercedes EQS, Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan. These are cars that are luxurious, expensive and promise huge range from a single charge - and they come packed with tech. The EQS performs very strongly here, with one of the standout features being the optional ‘MBUX Hyperscreen’. If IMAX did car media systems and driver displays, they would probably look like this.

Underneath all the fancy tech is a gigantic battery pack. It is rated at 107.8kWh - which, when new, was the biggest battery to ever be fitted to a production car. That isn’t the only impressive number associated with the EQS, as range is claimed to be up to 453 miles per charge.

This figure is a substantial improvement over the latest Tesla Model S (which is claimed to be able to travel 405 miles on a single charge of its 100kWh battery). How long will it take to charge the Mercedes EQS with its supersized battery? The table below reveals all.

Model/batteryBuyaCar priceSlow charging (2.3kW)Fast charging (7.4kW)Rapid charging (200kW)
Mercedes EQS 450+ 107.8kWhLimited stock47 hours15-16 hours31 minutes (10-80%)

 

Despite the Mercedes EQS having a colossal battery pack, a full charge only costs a fraction of what the smallest, most economical petrol cars will set you back to fill. At 30p/kWh, a full charge will set you back £32.34. A cheaper 7.5p/kWh tariff equates to £8.09, for more than 400 miles of range in most scenarios.

 

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