The truth about electric car charging and range

A Tesla and Ionity station on July 30, 2022 at 8, the day of the biggest summer holiday rush (photo Eric Dupin)

Are you tempted by the switch to electricity, but are you still a little hesitant? Here’s what you really need to know about battery life and charging.

There are two types of electric motorists. Those who have taken the plunge and those who want to but are still hesitating.

The overwhelming majority of those who drive electric today wouldn’t go back to combustion for anything in the world, but sometimes they still struggle to convince those around them. And if those who sincerely want to go electric don’t do it yet, it’s often because of a set of brakes where the rational and the legitimate compete with the prejudices and false information still circulating on the subject. It is enough to read the falsehoods taught on social networks (for once with LinkedIn) by self-proclaimed experts to understand the scope of the task.

Here’s a little reminder for those who want to promote the switch to electric in their entourage, and those who are still trying out but just waiting to be convinced.

No, it does not take 10 hours to travel from Paris to Lyon by electric car

There are two ways to cover a journey like that from Paris to Lyon (or vice versa) by electric car, this journey is given as an example but can be transferred to any journey between two destinations slightly less than 500 kilometers apart. Either you decide to take the floating trails, you will enjoy discovering deserted branch roads that wind through often stunning landscapes.

In this case, given the speed limits between 80 and 90 km/h almost everywhere in Europe on the secondary network, depending on your model, if you leave with a 100% charged battery, you may not even need to top up Underway. Today, apart 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 is quite realistic, provided the temperature is not polar. Well, in this case of use, it will take about 8 hours to do a Paris-Lyon, charging included if necessary, where you will take the opportunity to eat. Also, it may be that the recharge (up to 80% as recommended) is finished before you have started the dessert.

If you decide to take the highway 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. WLTP autonomy is not at all realistic at 130 km/h. In this case, a stop of around 40 minutes or two of around 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 this to combine your fuel stops with meal-coffee-pee breaks and you won’t even notice. In this case, you should count a little more than 5 hours to complete the trip. It is practically the same time as in thermals.

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

Self-government vs. charging speed vs. the density of charging points is apparently decided in favor of the last parameter, namely the network mask. Of course, it is always reassuring to have a great deal of autonomy, but the arguments for this criterion are becoming increasingly thin, even questionable. On the one hand, because a large battery presupposes a lot of extra dead weight, a more expensive, heavier, less agile car and more consuming in terms of energy, but also wear and tear on the parts that have to carry this weight (tyres, shock absorbers, brakes, etc. ). In the end, a less “ecological” car. The trend today is to work more with efficiency, and in particular aerodynamics and weight and above all to be able to count on a very dense network of the charging network (which is also not necessarily very ecological, it must be admitted). Today, between Ionity, Fastned, Tesla, TotalEnergies and the others in the works, on our famous Paris-Lyon route by highway, the options for high-speed charging are already very numerous in both directions, allowing you to drive your car. every 250 km.

It might be a little less obvious if you decide to avoid the motorway, but just use a good route planner like the one from Chargemap or ABRP and you’re done. At worst you’ll have to stop at a station with lower speed terminals, but even with just 22kW you should still recover around 140km in an hour, enough to complete the journey if necessary. Time for a lunch break again.

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

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

It is enough to follow certain groups on social networks and, more specifically, this map, which shows in real time the constructions and openings of charging stations at the various operators, to understand that it is going fast, very fast.

Yes, we can recharge with a cup of coffee and walk 200 km

Take the case of an “average” electric car like the Kia Niro EV, which is not known to be a lightning rod in terms of charging speed. If you stop at Ionity, Tesla or Fastned to recharge, it will take you less than 25 minutes to charge from 20 to 65%, or recover enough to travel 207 km. So these chip jumps might seem a little boring to you if you’ve never done it, but this is a somewhat extraordinary case because we generally recharge from 20 to 80%, which definitely takes a bit longer, but allows you to recover around 280 km, knowing that it takes much less time with a car that accepts fast charging. 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 cup of coffee and dip his Speculoos in it. And hey, it’s recommended to take a break every two hours, we can never say it enough, for safety and health.

No, the charging stations are not saturated

It’s a sensitive point, we’re not going to lie to each other. But the overload of charging stations (haha), if it is a reality probably during a few days of major migration in the year (departures on summer holidays, bridges and long weekends), for the moment remains an epiphenomenon. Certainly very uncomfortable, even somewhat anxiety-inducing, but rarely. And can be bypassed if you have the opportunity to choose your schedules. If you go early in the morning and you need to charge up, there is a good chance that a station will be very lightly used before 10am. 9 or after 15, whereas it may be saturated at the time of day. It also depends on the stations and their configuration. With Tesla – some of which Superchargers are now open to all brands – you have little risk of queuing given the average number of cars per car. station, a number that is constantly increasing, as some Superchargers now display between 20 and 30 terminals! It will be more difficult with an Ionity, whose average number of terminals per station is pretty much between 5 and 6. So yes, obviously you might have to wait a bit, but it will remain extremely punctual and the wait shouldn’t be very long as the average charging time at high speed terminals is around 20 minutes.

Home, workplace, destination… Charging points are multiplying and diversifying

Of course, recharging isn’t just on the road during long trips. It is also daily or weekly charging for everyday trips. This is both simpler and more complicated. Easier because the average daily distance covered by a French motorist, with few exceptions, would be 36 kilometers, although this figure must be taken with caution because it can vary according to the sources. With a car that has a range of 350 kilometers and use in cities and urban areas, this represents approximately one charge per week. There, too, the solutions are multiplied, between recharging at home and recharging at the workplace. Well, I am describing here an ideal scenario, because in practice only 55% of the French live in individual housing, and few are lucky enough to have a parking space, even more so with a charging station, at their workplace. We also know that the famous “right to take” in co-ownership remains long and complicated to enforce, contributing to persistent white areas where recharge is impossible. Which in passing could become a real subject for a tiebreak against the electrification of the individual car. A new form of social breakdown in a way that the politicians should seriously seize before it becomes too glaring.

There is also the case of top-ups at the destination, which is also developing strongly, especially in hotels, campsites and, in another register, in supermarket car parks, as these players have fully understood the competitive advantage they could gain from such a performance.

There is still the question of the cost of high-speed charging during travel. It’s the topic that’s been making people cringe a little for a few weeks as we see the crazy increase in electricity prices that we discussed in detail in our last podcast. With a price per kWh, which can practically reach 1 euro (at Allego for example), the price per kilometers in electric reaching thermal. However, not all operators have yet passed on these increases. This is the case with Electra, which still offers a kWh for €0.44, or Fastned for €0.59. Tesla has seen its prices nearly triple in just over three years, from €0.24 to €0.69/kWh for its customers and €0.79 for non-Tesla customers. Ionity, meanwhile, hasn’t budged since its last update, with a kWh of €0.79. All prices shown here are subscription exclusive. For those who, on the other hand, have the privilege of being able to charge at home, the tariff is still very advantageous, as it currently stands at €0.1841/kWh. Even with an announced 15% increase at the start of 2023, going electric while charging at home will still be a very good deal.


Do not be afraid ! Contrary to what the Cassandres of social networks regularly announce, driving an electric car is becoming increasingly easy, even banal. All you have to do is update your driver’s brain and a little preparation (we’re talking about 30 seconds, the time to enter your trip on a planner) and all the restrictions disappear. All that remains is pleasure.

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

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