When the humble, second-generation Toyota Prius entered the UK market in early 2004, the nation could not have been more sceptical: was the electric revolution truly here? No, simply put.
The fault was not in the car, however, but rather the lack of infrastructure - an issue that truly grew its wings as the 2010s progressed, and the breadth of the electric car market began to expand. The charging process took too long and stations were far and few between. But in the time since, the number of private investors and increased Government funding has allowed the number of charging stations in the UK to grow substantially.
Statistics from the UK Government website show that, as of 1st January 2022, there were 28,375 public charging docks in the UK. An estimated 462,000,fully-electric cars, and a further 348,000 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are also on UK roads at the time of writing. So,18 years on from the second-generation Prius, we can now say that the electric revolution is truly underway and occupying a growing role in society.
Alongside the expansion, technological advancements have also allowed infrastructure providers to implement more powerful docks into their stations, which in turn decreases the charging time of electric cars that are capable of utilising these premium chargers.
It’s worth remembering that every electric car has a maximum charge rate, and even if a charger is capable of delivering a higher voltage rate than a specific car’s battery can accept, it will be limited.
For instance, a 2022 Nissan Leaf has a maximum charge rate of 46kW (kilowatts) at a fast charger location. Even if you travel to the UK’s most powerful charging facility, the Energy Superhub in Oxford which has access to ten 300kW ultra-fast chargers, you will still only be charging at a rate of 46kW.
This also means that each electric car has its own individual charging time, which can also be referred to as ‘charge speed’ - which is commonly measured in ‘miles per hour’. This metric is not to be confused with your travelling speed per hour but, instead, the number of miles that can be added to your car’s range in that time.
How is miles per hour calculated?
This is calculated by using a simple formula: C = P ÷ E
C (the charging speed in miles per hour) = P (the power provided by the charger in Kilowatts) ÷ E (the amount of energy consumed by the car when you’re driving).
For example, if an electric car has an energy consumption rate of 13kWh (kilowatt hours) per 100 miles (0.13/mile) and is charged using a fast charger that provides 50kW of power, here’s how you’d calculate it:
50kW ÷ 0.13kWh = 385 miles per hour of charging speed.
So in one hour of charging at this speed, your electric car would gain 385 miles of range.
Charging speeds are also dependent on the amount of voltage that can be supplied by the charger being used, which is measured in volts (v). More volts means a lower current and this reduces the amount of energy that is lost in the conductors. This not only makes the charging process more efficient but also dramatically faster.
In case you aren’t tempted by the prospect of a mathematical equation before charging your car, you can use this online calculator to help you work out your miles per hour charging speed.
How many volts do current chargers produce?
At most commercial fast charger locations around the country, you’ll find 400 volt docks to be the most powerful in the station. But a game-changing development is on the horizon for the industry, as a wave of new 800 volt charging docks are being introduced that are capable of further increasing the charging speeds of electric cars.
In more scientific terms, the reason these 800 volt chargers are superior is because they allow batteries to withdraw more power from the charger, permitting higher voltage amounts to run through smaller currents, increasing the energy yield per minute.
The 800 volt chargers have proved to be twice as fast as their predecessors and can charge compatible electric cars from five to 80 percent in an estimated 20 minutes. In most cases, this translates to around 62 miles of range in around three minutes.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But here’s the problem: there are only four car models in the UK that can currently actually accept 800 volt charging. Those are the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron GT, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, with these next-generation chargers very likely to remain compatible with cars in the ‘premium’ bracket for several years still.
This is because the costly infrastructure within an electric car that allows it to accept 800 volt charging is individual to each manufacturer. This means that there is no ‘blueprint’ that can be generally used, like we have with most of the current 400 volt chargers. So while 800 volt chargers do give us reason to be optimistic, 400 volt charging will remain the primary option for a while longer.
Which factors could determine an electric car’s charging speed?
As with most things car-related that can be measured or calculated, there are a number of variables that could increase/decrease the time an electric car takes to charge. After all, most ‘charge times’ provided are estimates.
The existing range - Electric cars generally charge at the optimal rate when they are between 20 and 80 percent. When you’re above or below this range, the batteries will charge at a noticeably slower rate to preserve battery health. So, when you approach a charging station, keep the current battery percentage (otherwise known as State of Charge) in mind.
The charge rate limit - Plugging your electric car into a charging port that’s more powerful than your vehicle’s maximum charge rate will not increase the speed at which it charges. If, for instance, your car can only handle 50kW of charge, attaching a 150kW chargepoint cable to it won’t be saving you any time.
The outside temperature - Electric car batteries work best at temperatures of between 20 and 25 degrees. So, when the outside temperature is below 20 degrees or above 25, your car will disperse more energy to amply heat up or cool down its batteries, impacting the charge speed.
Which electric cars have the best miles per hour charging speed?
So, now you understand all about what electric car charging is, let us take you through some of the fastest charging electric cars you can currently buy:
Note: this list will not include multiple trim variations of the same car, and indicates their charging speed from 10-80 percent of driving range.
1. Porsche Taycan Plus
- Charging speed: 650mph
Available from: £79,549 (£1,000pcm)
Range: 295 miles
The inaugural all-electric car from the Stuttgart-based performance manufacturer has been lauded by reviewers and customers alike and is often dubbed as the first ‘true’ fully electric driver’s car. With a variety of guises now available for the Taycan, the ‘Plus’ variant currently sits atop the speed charging perch at 650 miles per hour.
2. Audi e-tron GT quattro
- Charging speed: 640mph
Available from: £84,000 (£1,050pcm)
Range: 260 miles
A direct competitor to the Porsche Taycan, Audi’s e-tron GT range offers comparable performance and range statistics at parallel trim levels for similar prices. The GT quattro offers the highest charge speed of the e-tron line and, considering it gets from 26 miles of range to 208 in 17 minutes, it’s unsurprisingly close to the top.
3. Kia EV6 (Long Range 2WD)
- Charging speed: 630mph
Available from: £44,195 (£575pcm)
Range: 255 miles
Kia’s flagship all-electric crossover polymerises an in-demand mix of long-distance real-world driving range with an 80 percent fast charge time of 18 minutes. As a result, it won the 2022 Car of the Year (COTY) award ahead of a host of prominent rivals.
4. Genesis GV60 Premium
- Charging speed: 590mph
Available from: £47,005 (£575pcm)
Range: 240 miles
The SUV crossover joins a Genesis range which is growing as quickly as the brand’s reputation is in the UK since its arrival here in May 2021. The GV60 Premium’s 590mph charge speed means the jump from 24 to 192 miles can be completed in 17 minutes.
4. Hyundai IONIQ 5 (Long Range 2WD)
- Charging speed: 590mph
Available from: £45,400 (£550pcm)
Range: 240 miles
If you compare the Hyundai Trajet and the IONIQ 5, you can see just how substantial the styling changes have been in a matter of just 14 years for the South Korean manufacturer - and it’s been a welcome transition for many. The 2022 World Car of the Year (WCOTY) recipient boasts a fast charge time of 17 minutes from 24 to 192 miles.
6. Genesis G80 Electrified Luxury
- Charging speed: 550mph
Available from: £65,805 (850pcm)
Range: 275 miles
The second entry on our list for Hyundai’s luxury car sister company. The G80 Electrified is Genesis’ take on the Mercedes S-Class, and its 87.2kWh battery can fast charge from 28 miles of range to 220 in a touch over 21 minutes. P.s. if you’re wondering why it might remind you of a Bentley, it’s worth noting that the chief creative officer for Genesis, a man named Luc Donckerwolke, used to work for the aforementioned British brand.
7. Mercedes EQS 450+
- Charging speed: 510mph
Available from: £102,160 (£1,300pcm)
Range: 395 miles
In April 2022, Mercedes’ Vision EQXX smashed the world record for an electric car journey by travelling over 1,000 kilometres. It’s an impressive showing of what can now be achieved and the EQS is a prime real-world example of that. With 395 miles of range - 316 of which can be regained in 32 minutes - the Silver Arrow is showing that its engineering advancements will continue to stretch into the world of electrification.
8. Tesla Model 3 (Long Range Dual Motor)
- Charging speed: 460mph
Available from: £57,490 (£675pcm)
Range: 300 miles
With over 500,000 sales in 2021, the Model 3 was, by some margin, the best selling electric car worldwide. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone, given the all-round usability provided by the Model 3. In its Long Range Dual Motor form, the 80% fast charge time to 240 miles is completed in 27 minutes.
9. BMW iX xDrive 50
- Charging speed: 420mph
Available from: £107,305 (£1,200pcm)
Range: 315 miles
The iX xDrive 50 is one of BMW's most divisive models. It's also just one of only two cars on this list that exceeds the £100,000 barrier but, while the EQS 450+ has many redeeming qualities to counterbalance the expenditure, the iX takes more justification. A rapid charge speed of 420mph is a start and means 252 miles of range can be gained in 31 minutes.
10. Coming soon: Hyundai IONIQ 6 (Long Range 2WD)
- Charging speed: 700mph
Available from (est): £47,500 (£575pcm)
Range (claimed): 285 miles
Save the best till last, right? Hyundai’s forthcoming IONIQ 6 all-electric sedan, which is set to enter production in the third quarter of 2022, will look to challenge the dominance of the Tesla Model 3. And with a competitive price tag, generous range and streamlined silhouette, the IONIQ 6 may just prove to be its most popular mass-produced future model.
Thinking about making the electric leap? The algorithms behind Karfu’s search tool are designed specifically to find the perfect form of mobility for you, be it on four, two or even one wheel. Carry on the conversation in the comment section below!