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Everything you need to know about charging an electric vehicle

EV 101: Everything you need to know about charging an electric vehicle

Electric vehicles (EV) are here to stay. The UK Government has committed to banning the sale of new petrol or diesel cars by 2030, and manufacturers are accelerating their electric vehicle production accordingly.

Many companies are changing their fleets from conventional to electric, but it's a big decision to contemplate. Everything you thought you knew about cars has changed overnight, and there's a whole load of new information to digest.

We're committed to the EV revolution at KeyFleet. We regularly field questions from fleet managers considering a move to electric, and many of these questions focus on charging. It's the most significant part of changing from a conventional car to an EV, so it's understandably the area where people need information.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

After the question about how far it will go on a single charge, this is the next most common one. Unfortunately, the answer is it depends on several factors like the size of your battery, how much it needs charging, and which type of charger you're using.

There are three types of charging: slow, fast, and rapid, and they are categorised by their power output. Slow is at 3kW, fast varies from 7-22kW, and rapid is 43-50kW. Different cars have different charging capabilities; for example, not all can rapidly charge.

As a guide, a car like the BMW i3 has a 42kWh sized battery and will take 4.5 hours to charge from empty to full on a 7kW charger. It can also rapid-charge from 0-80% in 35 minutes. 

By comparison, the Tesla Model S has a much bigger battery (100kWh) and would take 15 hours to charge from zero-100% on a 7kWh charger. However, it also has a rapid charge capability which can charge it from 20%-80% in 30 minutes.

It's better to treat your car like your mobile phone. Top it up during the day, then give it a full charge overnight. Plug it in while it's parked at work, and when you're out and about, park it next to a charger and let it top up while you're doing whatever you're doing. For most of us, our cars spend more time stationary than running, so use that time to top your EV up. It's just a small change of mindset that's needed.

Are all the charging connectors the same?

No. There are four variants known as Type 1, Type 2, CHAdeMO, and CCS. Don't panic; it's not as complicated as it sounds.

Types 1 and 2 are used in slow and fast charging (interchangeably), while CHAdeMO and CCS are only for rapid charging.

Most UK charging points use a Type 2 socket for you to plug your cable in. Some have a permanently attached cable that you simply connect to your car.

Your electric car will either have a Type 1 or Type 2 socket for slow/fast charging. Type 2 is becoming the standard connector on new vehicles.

If your car supports rapid charging, there will be either a CHAdeMO or CCS socket as well as the Type 1 or 2. It's generally agreed that you shouldn't use rapid charging all the time as it could reduce your battery's life, so that's why there is the slow/fast option.

So, your charging cable may have two different ends, depending on the socket on your car. For example, if your vehicle has a Type 1 socket, your cable will be Type 1 at one end (to plug into your vehicle) but Type 2 at the other (to plug into the charging point).

You can also plug into a standard 3-pin plug at home.

How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?

Again, this depends on your electric vehicle, the size of the battery, and your charging location

With a petrol/diesel car, we're all used to working out whether the fuel we're buying is at a fair price. It's easy to look at the price per litre displayed on the garage forecourt. We can also estimate how much it will cost to fully fuel our car as we've learned what it costs.

With electric vehicles, we now need to adjust our minds to working in kWh. It's a lot easier than it sounds. Whether you're at home or a service station, the tariff will be displayed in terms of pence per kWh.

For example, the average unit rate for electricity in the UK in 2021 is 14.4p per kWh. The BMW i3 we mentioned earlier has a battery size of 42 kWh.

The simple formula to use is (Unit Price in/kWh) x (Battery size in kWh), then divide that answer by 100 to get the cost in pounds

It will cost 14.4 x 42 = 604.8p (£6.05) to fully charge the BMW i3.

Using a public charging station is the same; however, the unit rate may be higher. Most charging stations either have a facility to pay by card at the point or make use of an app.

Depending on the charging point, you may have to download the app and set up an account before you can use it, or you may be able to log in as a guest and just pay for the transaction. They all have clear instructions, so just follow those.

In summary, charging an electric vehicle isn't as daunting a process as it might appear. Just don't forget your cable!

At Keyfleet, our EV business fleet experts are always available to answer all of your questions around the topic of electric vehicles. We're here to help you transition from petrol/diesel to electric as smoothly as possible

Call us now on 01772 73 73 83, and let's start the conversation.

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