Electric Vehicles

Charging capacity vs. charging speed: Which is more important?

The Audi E-Tron is an example of a vehicle that balances charging speed and capacity.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Should you be worried about the car's range? How fast it can charge? What does it all mean? Why does it matter? Navigating electric vehicle (EV) terminology and measurements can be tough for industry enthusiasts let along the average consumer.

According to Audi, most electric vehicle charging happens at home or work. Generally speaking, charging time does not play a factor during those periods because the model is parked for an extended period of time. Here, the most important thing to consider is how fast you can charge your vehicle at home. How fast a vehicle charges to full depends on the amount you drive your EV and the type of outlet you plug it into to charge.

Audi charging E-Tron The Audi E-Tron is capable of High Power Charging.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Your EV may be capable of charging at a high rate of speed. However, if your power outlet doesn't allow for the transmission of energy at that high rate, your car won't charge at that rate. There are three main levels of electric vehicle charging:

  • Level 1 - This type of charting happens via a 120-volt AC plug (a typical household outlet connection) and does not require any additional equipment. Generally, this type of charge can deliver two to five miles of range per hour.
  • Level 2 - These connects are either 240-volt (household) or 208-volt (commercial). This is the type of plug that you would typically use for high-energy appliances like a refrigerator or washing machine. These plugs are typically found inside homes, and not in locations that are easily accessible by vehicle charging cord. This outlet can deliver 10 to 20 miles of range per hour, on average.
  • DC Fast Charge - This type of outlet can conduct 480 volts of AC and requires specialized equipment to utilize. It's called "fast charge" for a reason. Vehicles can get 60 to 80 miles of range in just 20 minutes. Most often, these connections are available at public charging locations.

Charging capacity is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). When you are shopping for a new EV, you'll see that it is listed as have a certain kWh battery (example: 16 kWh). The reason that batteries are not listed by size is because they consist of a variety of cells. The size of the cells and the chemistry of the material in those cells determines how quickly they expend energy and how quickly they can be recharged.

This is how Nissan is able to have the same size battery in the Leaf and Leaf Plus but the Leaf Plus delivers more range.

Audi charging speed capacity capability Audi has detailed how its E-Tron SUV charges versus its competitors.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi is touting the ability of its vehicles to get energy via High Power Charging (HPC). HPC was developed by Phoenix Contact and dictates how quickly a vehicle can charge. The tech allows cars to reclaim a driving range of 100 kilometers in three to five minutes.

The biggest restriction on fast charging abilities is the transfer of heat. The faster the charge, generally, the higher the amount of heat that is produced. Batteries can only take so much heat before they degrade or malfunction.

This creates a tightrope for automakers and battery providers to walk. They need to have a battery with enough range to make the buying public feel comfortable that will charge as fast as possible without damaging the vehicle or the battery itself. The cost and weight of the battery are two additional considerations.

To achieve this mix, many EV charging systems are designed to allow vehicles to charge to 80 percent quickly, but then throttle off the speed and, correspondingly, the heat. The amount of time a vehicle can charge at this high rate is defined as its charging capacity.

Having a high charging capacity means that you can charge faster for longer. Without high charging capacity, the charging speed matters, but not as much.

The rate at which a vehicle throttles up then throttles back down its charging speed is known as the charging curve. Audi advises that an ideal charging curve with maximum output available for a long period of time is the more substantial area that customers should be concerned about. Having a short charge time means less time plugged in, freeing up public charging stations.

Audi offers up for example its E-Tron 55:

"For a range of around 110 kilometres (68 miles), the customer ideally spends just under 10 minutes at the charging terminal. The Audi e-tron 55 reaches the 80% mark after approximately 30 minutes. Even though it takes much longer, for technical reasons, to fill the remaining 20 percent of a lithium-ion battery, fully charging (5% to 100% state of charge) at an HPC terminal takes around 45 minutes.

The lithium-ion battery of the Audi e-tron 55 has a gross capacity of 95 kWh... Liquid cooling ensures that the battery's temperature remains in the optimum range of 25 to 35 degrees Celsius, even at high stress levels or low temperatures. 22 litres of coolant circulates in the total of 40 metres of cooling lines in the four coolant circuits. During direct-current charging with 150 kW, cold coolant takes away the heat that occurs as a result of electrical internal resistance in the battery."

If you cannot charge to the highest advised limit of the vehicle's capability due to a lack of charging infrastructure, it doesn't matter so much about charging capacity. In that instance, charging speed is most important.

Audi E-Tron charging curve This is the Audi E-Tron 55's charging curve.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Is a Level 2 charger enough for your needs because when you charge you often charge for hours at a time? Are you in need of fast charging because you're on a road trip and don't want to wait around for hours while your vehicle charges?

Just as automakers are walking the tightrope, so too are those in charge of installing charging stations.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

As part of its CES presentation, General Motors showed off its future electric vehicles.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors has made no secret of the fact that they see the future of the company is electric. Their presentation at CES this year put their future products out there for public consumption, but hidden in the shadows. Let's turn up the brightness and take a peek at what is there.

Scroll down to the bottom of this article to see a lightened, clearer view of all the models.

GMC Hummer EV

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Front and center is the 2022 GMC Hummer EV. The Hummer EV is slated to have 1,000 horsepower, a 350-mile range, and a $112,959 price tag when it arrives at dealership lots in 2021. Other forthcoming Hummer variants are set to have unique powertrain setups and lower price points.

Cadillac Lyriq

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq debuted in prototype form mid-2020. When it comes to market, Cadillac expects the Lyriq SUV to offer drivers 300+ miles of all-electric range, luxurious accommodations, and the buyers choice of rear-wheel drive or performance all-wheel drive. The Lyriq will come with Super Cruise, the General Motors hands-free driving system that allows for 200,000 miles of hands-free highway driving and automated lane change.

Cadillac Celestiq

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

In addition to showing the Celestiq here, Cadillac decided to show off its flagship electric car with some close ups. They don't give too much detail about the car, but we do know some interesting tidbits. Cadillac says that the car embodies their commitment to "reimagine what's possible in design and technology". The GM division will offer the Celestiq with a curated selection of hand-crafted materials and they've has hinted that there will be some customization options available for owners.

Chevrolet pickup

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

We don't yet know if it will be called the Silverado, but a Chevrolet pickup truck that runs on all-electric power is on the way. It's been confirmed that the plan is for the truck to have a maximum 400-mile range (likely when it's not towing or hauling much weight). Originally slated for a 2025 debut date, indications are that GM is pushing to get the truck to market sooner.

Buick EVs

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

In 2020, GM described the two new Buick models that are coming by 2023. They're both electric vehicles. The first, an SUV will be a model that offers "more conventional crossover proportion that maximizes interior space and cargo." The second is a Buick CUV that has "expressive proportions with a greater emphasis on form and athletic fashion." It looks like the SUV is on the right in the photo while the CUV is on the left.

"Mystery EV"

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

What is this mystery EV? We know the Cadillac XT4 is getting an electrified brother so there's a chance that this could that. Brightening and zooming in on the picture appears to reveal an SUV-like body design. We'll just have to stay tuned.

... and now let's turn the lights on.

General Motors EV preview CES 2021

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Last year, General Motors divulged while models it plans to introduce by 2023, including a number of EVs. You can see that full list here.

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The Ioniq 5 will be the first dedicated electric model designed on Hyundai's new battery electric vehicle platform.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Company, the parent of the Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis brands, has released a new series of photos and videos teasing the forthcoming Ioniq 5. The midsize crossover is slated to Abe the first model in the company's Ioniq dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) lineup brand.

It will also be the first vehicle that is underpinned by Hyundai's new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). The architecture is similar to what General Motors unveiled with its Ultium platform. The vehicle, Hyundai says, will showcase a "fundamental shift in design approach" for the company where vehicles are designed around the platform rather than modifying existing vehicles to put in BEV power systems like what is in the Kona EV.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 car teaser preview back Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The fresh design elements in the Ioniq 5 include Parametric Pixels, the smallest unit of digital imaging, as well as the CUV's color, material, and finish (CMF) direction that works to connect digital functionality with its analog counterpart. The car's front end features pixel-inspired lights, u-shaped and squared off at the corners. Its clamshell hood spans the entire width of the car, which is a concerted effort to minimize panel gaps and increase aerodynamics.

The wheels feature aero-optimized design and come in 20-inch diameter, the first ever fitted to a Hyundai EV.

"Ioniq 5 presents an all-new customer experience through innovative EV design that is evocative of the icon that established Hyundai's design DNA," said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design Center. "Beginning with Ioniq 5, our dedicated BEV lineup brand will redefine the relationship between people and their cars, establishing a new standard against which all BEV design experiences will be measured."

In addition to the photos, Hyundai released videos that preview the Ioniq 5's core technologies. Three feature "ultimate camping" scenarios where owners are able to use the Ioniq 5's general power supply (110/220V). In each video, the camper is seen using IONIQ 5's 3.5KW of V2L-supplied power, which they use to roast a turkey in a large oven, listen to music on high-end audio speakers, and exercise on a treadmill—all at a camping site.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 car teaser preview front wheel Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The '5 Min Challenge' video highlights Ioinq 5's ultra-fast charging capability that enables it to drive more than 62 miles with only a 5-minute charge (WLTP).

You can watch all the videos below.

Ioniq 5: Ultimate Camping (teaser) - Scene 1. Cooking

Ioniq 5: Ultimate Camping (teaser) - Scene 2. Sound

Ioniq 5: Ultimate Camping (teaser) - Scene 3. Running

Ioniq 5: 5 Min Challenge (teaser) - Trailer

IONIQ 5 will debut in a virtual world premiere event in February 2021.

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