How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Car? Most charging actually happens at home, but concerns about how to juice up are tripping up would-be buyers. A lot is on the line for automakers.
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Nice Car, But How Do You Charge That Thing? Let Us Count The Ways

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Nice Car, But How Do You Charge That Thing? Let Us Count The Ways

Nice Car, But How Do You Charge That Thing? Let Us Count The Ways

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/938156943/938593271" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

So how long does it take to charge an electric vehicle? Well, the answer involves a shift in habits. And a lot of people worry it'll be a hassle, but current drivers say it is the exact opposite. NPR's Camila Domonoske brings us a story about what charging is actually like.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: Stopping by the gas station is a routine chore for most American drivers, but those with electric vehicles have a different kind of routine.

ANDY FRASER: Right now I'm going to charge my car.

DOMONOSKE: Andy Fraser (ph) has a Volkswagen e-Golf.

FRASER: I don't have a driveway or a garage, so I have to run an extension cord, which I plug into the adapter that was given to me with the car.

DOMONOSKE: He uses a normal outlet to charge his car overnight. This is the slowest way to charge. It takes all night to add just 50 miles of range, but that's all Fraser normally needs. And his car would be parked overnight anyway.

FRASER: No big deal.

DOMONOSKE: That's a phrase you hear a lot from current owners. David Cooper heads to his parking lot.

DAVID COOPER: I'll be charging at one of two charging stations that I helped get installed here at our condominium complex.

DOMONOSKE: He plugs in his Nissan LEAF.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR BEEPING)

DOMONOSKE: With this type of charger, he can add a hundred miles of range in four hours. That might sound like a long time compared to a gas station stop, but it feels like a lot less time because he goes back in his condo while it charges. And Tesla owner Clemens Mendell doesn't even have to go outside. He installed a more powerful charger right in his garage.

CLEMENS MENDELL: There's a little button that I push, and poof. There's a little door at the car that opens.

DOMONOSKE: His Model X will wait to charge until it's nighttime, when his electricity is the cheapest. And charging at home is almost always much cheaper than paying for gasoline. As for how long it takes...

MENDELL: Takes about three hours, I guess, at night to charge. But since it charges late at night, it doesn't really matter.

DOMONOSKE: This is how most vehicle charging happens - at home or maybe work while people are doing other things, like sleeping. But when people are buying a car, they don't tend to think about a typical Tuesday. They ask, what about road trips?

JOYCE BRYNER: Now it's connecting.

DOMONOSKE: Joyce Bryner (ph) was driving through Pennsylvania when her Tesla Model 3 needed more juice.

BRYNER: And so now it's charging, and I don't know if you can hear the power ramping up there.

DOMONOSKE: Bryner wanted to add around 160 miles of range. At this brand new Tesla supercharger...

BRYNER: Let's see what the car says here.

DOMONOSKE: ...The car said 25 minutes.

BRYNER: I'm going to probably go into the Sheetz that the charger is at and get a drink and maybe a snack.

DOMONOSKE: Twenty-five minutes for that hefty of a charge is exceptionally fast for an electric vehicle, but is it fast enough?

MIKE DOVORANY: Until you reach parity with what everyone is used to - which is, you know, basically call it five minutes to fill up your gasoline vehicle - you're still now basically bringing something that's less attractive to people.

DOMONOSKE: Mike Dovorany is vice president at the market research firm Escalent. He says once people own an electric vehicle, or EV, they're really happy with them. They're powerful, quiet, cheaper to maintain. And people really like charging at home overnight.

DOVORANY: But it's super-hard to convince people before they've owned an EV how much they're going to like that, and so we can't really sell it per se.

DOMONOSKE: So to win over those skeptical shoppers, a lot of companies are working to make charging on the go much faster, even though it's not the primary way most owners charge. Because electric vehicles are going mainstream and as they get cheaper and go farther, the industry doesn't want charging times to be a roadblock.

Camila Domonoske, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF KRAFTWERK SONG, "AUTOBAHN")

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