The truth about charging and autonomy of electric cars

Tesla's ionity

A Tesla and Ionity station on July 30, 2022 at 8 am, the busiest day of the summer holidays (photo Éric Dupin)

Tempted by the switch to electric, but still hesitating? Here’s what you really need to know about battery life and charge.

There are two types of electromobilists. Those who have taken the step, and those who would like to, but still doubt.

The overwhelming majority of those who drive electric today wouldn’t go back to Combustion for the world, but sometimes they still struggle to convince those around them. And if those who sincerely want to go electric still do not do so, many times it is because of a game of brakes where the rational and the legitimate compete with the prejudices and false information that still circulates on the subject. It is enough to read the falsehoods wisely enunciated on social networks (thinking for once of LinkedIn) by self-proclaimed experts to understand the immensity of the task.

Here is a little souvenir for the use of those who want to promote the switch to electricity in their environment and for those who are still trying their luck, but just waiting to be convinced.

No, it doesn’t take 10 hours to travel from Paris to Lyon by electric car.

There are two ways to cover a trip like the one from Paris to Lyon (or vice versa) by electric car, this route is given as an example, but it can be transposed to any trip between two destinations somewhat further away, less than 500 kilometers. Or you decide on the wandering roads and you will enjoy discovering deserted departmental roads that wind through often superb landscapes.

In this case, given the speed limits between 80 and 90 km/h in almost all of Europe on the secondary network, it may be that, depending on your model, if you go out with the battery at 100%, you don’t even need to recharge in the road. Today, aside from small city cars, most “road” electric cars advertise a WLTP range of 450 to 600 kilometers. However, if the WLTP standard is subject to caution regarding its accuracy in mixed use, it turns out that on the road at 80/90 it is perfectly realistic, as long as the temperature is not polar. Well, in this use case, it will take about 8 hours to do a Paris-Lyon, charge included if necessary, during which you will take the opportunity to eat. In addition, it may be that the recharge (up to 80% as recommended) runs out before you have attacked the dessert.

If you decide to take the motorway all the way, you’ll probably need to recharge after 300 to 350 km, even if your car proudly claims to last 500 km on a single charge. The WLTP autonomy is not at all realistic at 130 km/h. In this case, a stop of about 40 minutes or two of about 20 minutes depending on the car will be necessary. This is for example what the Chargemap route planner indicates with a VW ID.3, with 20% battery on arrival. Also take advantage of it to combine your stops to refuel with breaks to eat-coffee-wee and you won’t even notice it. In this case, count a little more than 5 hours to make the trip. It is practically the same time as in thermals.

Yes, a range of 350 kilometers is enough (in the vast majority of cases)

The debate over range vs. charging speed vs. density of charging points seems to be resolving in favor of the latter parameter, namely network mesh. Of course, it is always reassuring to have a very large autonomy, but the arguments in favor of this criterion are increasingly scarce, even questionable. On the one hand, because a large battery implies a lot of extra dead weight, a more expensive, heavier, less agile car that consumes more energy, but also the wear of the parts that must support this weight (tyres, shock absorbers, brakes, etc. .). In the end, a less “ecological” car. The trend today is to work more on efficiency, and in particular on aerodynamics and weight and, above all, to be able to count on a very dense network of the cargo network (which is not necessarily very ecological either, it must be recognized). Today, between Ionity, Fastned, Tesla, TotalEnergies and the others in progress, on our famous Paris-Lyon highway route, the possibilities of high-speed charging are already very numerous in both directions, and allow you to power your car approximately. every 250 km.

It may be a little less obvious if you decide to avoid the highway, but then use a good route planner like the one shown in load map or ABRP, and voila. In the worst case, you will have to stop at a station with lower speed terminals, but even with only 22 kW you should recover around 140 km in an hour, enough to finish the trip if necessary. Once again, it’s time for a lunch break.

In any case, if we are still far from the 100,000 recharging points promised by the government at the end of 2021, the deployment has been experiencing a vertiginous acceleration for a few months since we have gone from 57,732 points in March 2022 to 69,428 charging points open to the public at the end of August 2022that is, an increase of +50% in their number in one year.

On the other hand, by mid-2022, 60% of motorway service areas will be equipped with fast charging stations for a total of 800 charging points, a figure that has doubled in one year. If the operators follow their roadmap, all motorway stations will be equipped with broadband terminals by the end of 2022.

It is enough to follow certain groups on social networks and more specifically this map that lists in real time the constructions and openings of charging points different operators to understand that things are progressing fast, very fast.

Yes, we can recharge the time of a coffee and go 200 km.

Take the case of an “average” electric car like the Kia Niro EV, which isn’t known for being a lightning rod in terms of charging speed. If you stop at Ionity, Tesla or Fastned to recharge, it will take less than 25 minutes to charge from 20 to 65%, recover enough to travel 207 km. So these chip jumps may seem a bit tedious if you’ve never done it, but this is a somewhat exceptional case, because we generally recharge from 20 to 80%, which certainly lasts a little longer, but allows you to recover around. 280 km, knowing that it takes much less with a car that accepts fast charges. Know, for example, that under the same conditions it will take less than 12 minutes to recover the same dose with a Kia EV6 and… 9 minutes with a Tesla Model 3 Long Autonomy. Barely enough time to find change for a coffee and dunk his Speculoos in it. And then, well, it is recommended to take a break every two hours, we can never say enough, for safety and health.

No, the charging stations are not saturated.

It is a sensitive point, we are not going to lie. But the overload of charging stations (haha), if it is a reality probably during the few days of great migrations of the year (departures on summer vacations, long weekends and long weekends), remains for the moment an epiphenomenon. Certainly very unpleasant, even somewhat distressing, but rare. And avoidable if you have the possibility to choose your hours. If you leave all morning and you sometimes have a recharge à faire, there are already strong chances that a station is three peu frequentée avant 9 o’clock or after 3 o’clock, alors qu’elle pourrait être saturate à l’heure du meal . It also depends on the seasons and their settings. With Tesla, some Superchargers are now open to all brands, you have little risk of queuing given the average number of contrails per station, a number that is constantly increasing as some Superchargers now display 20-30 terminals! It will be more complicated with an Ionity, whose average number of terminals per station is more between 5 and 6. So yes, sure, you may have to wait a bit, but it will still be extremely punctual, and the wait should not be very long. . since in high-speed terminals the average loading time is around 20 minutes.

Home, workplace, destination… Recharging points multiply and diversify

Of course, recharging isn’t just on the road during long drives. There is also a daily or weekly charge for daily trips. This is both simpler and more complicated. Simpler because, with a few exceptions, the average daily distance traveled by a French motorist would be 36 kilometres, although this figure must be taken with caution, as it may vary according to sources. With a car with a range of 350 kilometers, and urban and suburban use, this represents approximately one charge per week. Solutions are also multiplied there, between recharging at home and recharging at the workplace. Well, here I am describing an ideal scenario, because in practice only 55% of French people live in individual dwellings, and it is rare that they are lucky enough to have a parking space, a fortiori with a charging station, in their Workplace. We also know that the famous “taking right” in co-ownership is still long and complicated to enforce, which contributes to the persistence of white areas where recharging is impossible. What incidentally could become a real tiebreaker in the face of the electrification of the individual car. A new form of social fracture in a way, which politicians should seriously take advantage of before it becomes too flagrant.

There is also the case of recharges at destination, which are also having a strong development, especially in hotels, campsites and, in another register, in supermarket car parks, these players having perfectly understood the competitive advantage that they could derive from such performance.

There remains the question of the cost of high-speed charging on the go. This is the issue that has people shuddering a bit for a few weeks now when we see the crazy increase in electricity prices, as we have mentioned in detail. on our latest podcast. With a price per kWh that can practically reach 1 euro (in Allego for example), the cost per kilometer for electricity can reach that of thermal. However, not all operators have passed on these increases yet. This is the case of Electra, which continues to offer a kWh at €0.44, or Fastned at €0.59. Tesla has seen its prices practically triple in just over three years, going from €0.24 to €0.69/kWh for its customers and 0.79 for non-Tesla customers. Meanwhile, Ionity hasn’t moved since its last update, with a kWh at €0.69 as well. All prices shown here are exclusive to the subscription. For those who, on the other hand, have the privilege of being able to charge at home, the rate is still very advantageous since it is currently €0.1841/kWh. Even with an announced 15% increase in early 2023, driving electricity while charging at home will still be a very good deal.

In conclusion

Do not be afraid ! Contrary to what the Cassandres of social networks usually announce, electric driving is becoming easier, even banal. just do a little update for your driving brain and a little preparation (we’re talking about 30 seconds, the time to write your trip down in a planner), and all limitations are gone. All that remains is pleasure.

It is up to us (you) to inform us.

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