What Are The Fastest-Charging EVs? How You Charge Is Everything

Earlier this week, Kelly Blue Book published an article for MarketWatch, asking two primary questions…

  1. What are the fastest-charging electric vehicles?
  2. How do we compare electric vehicle charging times?

EV charging infrastructure is growing as consumers are looking for alternatives to internal combustion, gasoline-powered vehicles. In fact, as many as 100 new EV models are expected to be on sale by the end of 2023 and over 350 new EV models will be launched over the next five years.

How you charge is everything

All gas pumps are roughly similar. But the same can’t be said for chargers.

Every electric car sold in the U.S. today comes with a Level 1 charger — not much more than an extension cord you can plug into a standard 110-volt outlet. It’s not unusual for an electric car to take all night to get to a full charge that way.

Functionally, that’s fine for most drivers on an average day. You probably rarely drive longer distances in a day than the average electric car range. Most of us settle down for the night somewhere where we could plug it in. Think of this as filling a swimming pool with a water gun.

Many buyers, though, will want to step up to a Level 2 charger. Usually installed by an electrician (though we know of one you can install yourself), these use a 240-volt outlet like an electric dryer. They usually cut that charging time more than in half. For our swimming pool analogy, a Level 2 charger is a garden hose.

Finally, there are Level 3 chargers out and about, like Tesla’s Supercharger stations or the universal charging stations Electrify America built into some gas stations and shopping malls. These use DC current — up to 350 kWh if your car can take it — and will charge an electric car far faster than anything you can do at home. It’s like calling the fire department to fill your pool directly from an open hydrant.

However, not every electric car can accept power at that rate. Electric cars manage how much power they will draw from a charger. They throttle back what they receive from the most powerful Level 3 chargers to prevent damage to their components.

Electric cars also don’t charge at a constant rate. Testers often find that the first few percent of charge enters the EV battery quickly, and the last few percent can take much longer.

Battery size is an issue

Even if two electric cars can accept the same power flow, that doesn’t mean they’ll finish charging simultaneously. Electric vehicles offer different size batteries. Sometimes different trim levels of identical electric cars carry different size batteries. The Tesla Model S on the road today, for instance, has been sold with battery packs measuring 60, 70, 75, 85, 90, and 100 kWh.

In other words, sometimes you’re filling a kiddie pool, and sometimes an Olympic-size lap pool.

Manufacturer’s claims: no one fact-checks them

A government agency verifies fuel economy for gasoline-powered cars. Another will check that fuel pumps are dispensing an actual gallon for every gallon for which they charge. But charging times? Manufacturers can claim whatever they’d like. No one is verifying what they say.

And they all say something different.

Some manufacturers report the amount of time an electric car takes to charge from an empty battery to 100%. Others say time to 80%. At the same time, others report time from 10% to 80%. And virtually all report their numbers in a best-case scenario, using a Level 3 charger that buyers may not use or be able to access.

No one checks these claims.

Technology is changing rapidly

Finally, charging speed calculations are tricky because they don’t last. Battery technology is one of the hottest research fields on the planet today. The company that creates better batteries will improve electric vehicles and enable power grids to store solar electricity for use overnight, build phones that can run on reserve power for days, and even make human missions to Mars easier.

Consequently, new and improved batteries roll out regularly. Automakers know this and sometimes change their configuration on the fly (Tesla, for instance, builds more efficient batteries into its cars as they become available, never waiting for the next model year to improve what they’re offering).

Thus, any calculation involving the cars currently on the market can and will change at any moment. Perhaps even dramatic change — Toyota, TM, +2.55% reports say, may unveil a solid-state battery with a 600-mile range any day now.

5 of the fastest-charging electric cars

So, how should we compare electric car charging times? Given the wide disparity of data available, we have to pick one flawed measurement over another and accept that we’re using unverified manufacturer data. With that in mind, we’ve calculated how fast each electric car’s battery can charge under peak conditions.

1. Lucid Air — 20 miles per minute

You may not have seen a Lucid Air on the road yet, but you probably will soon. The California startup has begun delivering its luxury cars to customers.

With a starting price of $77,400, the Air has the longest EPA-certified range of any EV with a max range of up to 520 miles. Using DC quick charging, owners can get 300 miles of range in as little as 20 minutes.

2. Porsche Taycan — 15.5 miles per minute

Porsche’s POAHY, Taycan, taking on the Tesla Model S, is capable of a quick surge of charging that will, the manufacturer says, give you 62 miles of range in just four minutes. It won’t charge at that rate indefinitely, but should you find your battery running low, the ability to get another hour’s worth of highway-speed driving in the time it takes to order a cup of coffee is nice.

3. Tesla Model 3 — 15 miles per minute

The best-selling electric car in America is also capable of a rapid charge to 80% of its battery capacity. The Model 3 holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest charge – three drivers crossed the United Kingdom in a Model 3, stopping just three times to recharge for about half an hour each time.

4. Kia EV6 — 14.5 miles per minute

Kia’s first dedicated EV is a sleek-looking hatchback with an EPA-certified range of up to 310 miles. It’s offered in several models, from a good-enough 167 horsepower to a wait-I-thought-this-was-a-Kia 576 horses. Thanks to its 800-volt architecture, it charges faster than most rivals.

5. Hyundai Ioniq 5 — 13.4 miles per minute

Hyundai and Kia are corporate cousins and often build cars with shared parts. We love its inventive use of space — the seats recline full and have leg bolsters, and the center console can slide all the way to the front or back of the cabin. It’s also a unique look, with pixellated headlights and an eye-catching combination of curves and linear elements. It charges just a touch slower than its Kia counterpart but still quick enough to make the top five.

Methodology: The above calculations use “miles per minute” to measure the maximum mileage each vehicle can accept in 1 minute from a Level 3 fast charger.

These cars will not charge at a constant rate, and each has a battery of a different size, so miles per minute will not tell you how long each vehicle takes to reach full charge. But miles per minute makes a helpful shorthand to help show what you’d be getting into if you were to buy any of these cars.

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