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Fast Facts: Electric vehicle charging

In a new series of explainers, we provide a quick-fire briefing for city officials including highlighting which cities to look to for guidance and inspiration.
Amsterdam rolled out its EV charging programme in 2009, and there are currently over 3,000 points across the city
Photo: City of Amsterdam

Types of charging

Those new to this concept can find that information on how charging works and what’s available is often as clear as mud. Differing charge speeds, voltages, prices, plugs, sockets and battery types as well as a range of private operators vying for their slice of the burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) market, have led many city authorities to shy away from addressing what should be simple questions with simple solutions.

Cities across the globe are now facing these questions head-on as the shift towards zero emissions has firmly entered the public policy debate.

Level I, commonly known as ‘slow charging’ constitutes the majority of home charging and can take anything from 6-12 hours for a full charge (2-4 hours for a hybrid), at a power of three kilowatts (kW). The make/model of the car and location (US/Europe have different voltages) can also impact charging speeds.

Level II, often known as ‘fast charging’, is used for most street public charging units, such as those installed by cities, and can take between 1-3 hours at a power of 7-22 kW.

Rapid chargers are one of two types— AC or DC [Alternating or Direct Current]. Current Rapid AC chargers are rated at 43 kW, while most Rapid DC units are at least 50 kW. Both will charge the majority of EVs to 80 percent in around 30-60 minutes (depending on battery capacity). Tesla Superchargers are also Rapid DC and charge at around 120 kW.

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