It’s a very valid question and one that confuses a lot of people. That’s because there are many variables. Unlike filling a car with petrol or diesel, it doesn’t just take five to 10 minutes, no matter what car you drive.
With an EV, it depends on the car, the size of the battery of the model you’re driving and what kind of charging point you use.
For all charging times below, we’re using the UK’s best-selling EV, the Tesla Model Y (75kWh battery), a big-selling less premium model, the Kia e-Niro (64kWh battery) and the ever-green Nissan Leaf (40kWh battery) as examples.
We are assuming charging will be from 20 to 80%. Cars, like mobile phones, charge more slowly the fuller their battery gets. And the last 20% can take almost as long as the 60% before.
The three-pin plug ‘SLOW’ home charger
If you are charging at home and simply using a three-pin plug, you will be getting what’s known as a slow charge at 2.3kW. You may also get a slow charge from some on-street lamp post charging points. In February 2023, Zap-Map says there are 9,081 of these in the UK.
- That will charge the Kia in 16 hours and 40 minutes
- The Tesla with its bigger battery will take 19 hours 35 minutes
- The Leaf charges in 10 hours 25 minutes
Charge using a public ‘FAST’ charger
With a public fast charger you will charge at anywhere between 7 and 22kW. Let’s go with the most pessimistic and assume it’s charging at 7kW. Workplaces commonly install fast chargers. The assumption is that people don’t mind plugging in for hours because work is otherwise engaging them.
These are by far the most popular charging points in the UK. In February 2023, Zap-Map says there are 21,191 of these.
- The Kia will charge in around 5 hours 35 minutes
- The Tesla will need 6 hours 25 minutes
- The Nissan will take 3 hours 25 minutes
Charge using a public ‘RAPID’ charger
There’s a huge variation in speed when it comes to rapid charging. A rapid charger could offer as much as 50kW. You’ll find these in fuel stations and bespoke EV charging points. In February 2023, Zap-Map says there are 5,218 of these in the UK.
- The Kia will charge in 46 minutes
- Th Tesla will be plugged in for 54 minutes
- The Nissan will need just under 30 minutes
What about ultra-rapid charging?
This is where things get interesting – and more confusing. The car’s on-board charger limits the speed it takes your car to charge on an ultra-rapid charger. This restricts the amount of charge your car can take in one shot so the batteries don’t overheat and get damaged.
Ultra-rapid chargers use DC (Direct Current). Most home and fast chargers use slower AC (Alternating Current). Ultra-rapid chargers have up to 150kW of power. But remember, the car’s onboard charger controls the charge you get. Let’s assume for our calculations you can charge at 100kW. In February 2023, Zap-Map says there are 2,361 of these in the UK.
- The Kia will charge in 26 minutes
- The Tesla takes 30 minutes
- The Leaf will be charging for 16 minutes
But there are caveats…
Unfortunately in the world of EVs, nothing is as simple as it might at first appear. Some chargers might claim to provide say 50kW but if all the nearby chargers are in use, the speed they charge at can be limited by grid supply.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.