Charging, range, costs: what you should look out for in an electric car

What you need to know about the battery, range and charging speed

The heart of every electric vehicle is the battery. lithium-ion batteries are the most common type of battery used in modern e-cars. Due to its limited capacity, the battery is the key factor for the achievable range and, together with the charging technology installed, also determines the speed at which it can be recharged. The usable battery capacity is on average between 30 and 80 kWh, so that you can drive between 150 and 400 km with a full charge under realistic conditions. The larger the memory, the greater the range, but also: the higher the purchase cost (and the raw material consumption for the battery).

Under real conditions one battery charge can not be fully used for propulsion. Experience shows that electric cars lose around 20% of their range in the summer because additional electricity is needed to cool the battery and the air conditioning system. In winter the range can even be reduced up to 40%, because among other things the heating consumes additional energy.

How much energy an electric car needs for a distance of 100 km depends mainly on the size and weight of the vehicle. In particular, the weight will be strongly influenced by the battery. Another factor is the way you drive and whether you drive short distances in the city or long distances on the highway.

On average, electric cars consume between 15 and 25 kWh per 100 km, depending on the model.

Charging time depends on the power of the charging station, the charging technology in the vehicle and the battery capacity. The weakest component determines the maximum possible charging power. For example: with an output of 22 kW, about 20 kWh of energy can be "refueled" in one hour (minus losses) which corresponds on average to a range of 100 km. From a state of charge of 80%, the charging speed of the battery usually decreases. When fast charging on the highway, therefore, the charging process is usually stopped at 80%.

How much does an electric car cost compared to a combustion engine??

The purchase costs for electric cars vary depending on the manufacturer, vehicle class, battery size and equipment of the vehicle. Even today, electric cars are cheaper to buy than comparable internal combustion models – mainly thanks to government subsidies. Up to 9000 euros are currently available from the government and manufacturers as a total premium.

The maintenance costs for an electric car are generally significantly lower than for cars with internal combustion engines. This is because some steps, such as changing oil and timing belts, are completely eliminated. In addition, many mechanical parts that can be expensive to repair simply no longer exist.

Energy costs during operation are significantly lower for electric vehicles than for vehicles with internal combustion engines. On average, an e-car consumes about 20 kwh per 100 km (energy consumption varies depending on the model). If you calculate with a price of 30 ct/kwh (household electricity), you get a price of 6 euro per 100 km. The more solar power that ends up in your tank, the cheaper the trip: if you "fill up" with solar power from your own roof, you’ll save money, can get away particularly favorably.

For comparison: with an average gasoline consumption of 8 l per 100 km and a gasoline price of currently about 1.50 euro/l, this results in a price of 12 euro for a distance of 100 km.

As the federal government wishes to promote the sale of e-cars, e-vehicles registered for the first time by the end of 2025 will be subject to a 31.12.exempt from vehicle tax in 2030.

In an overall cost assessment, you should take into account the factors of acquisition, maintenance, repair, etc taking into account operating costs, insurance and loss of value. A regularly updated cost comparison between some models can be found on the ADAC website.

What are the types of plugs for electric cars?? Do the differences in the charging cables affect the charging performance??

In Germany, four types of plug are commonly used for electric cars: two of them are suitable for alternating current (AC) charging at home, and two others for fast charging with direct current (DC) charging on the road. Which connection you need for your wallbox depends on the choice of your e-car.

  1. The so-called type 2 plug is the european standard connection for e-cars and is the most widely used in germany and europe. It can transmit a charging power of up to 43 kW (only alternating current). According to the charging station ordinance, all public normal charging stations (AC charging) in germany must be equipped with a type 2 or. Be equipped with a type 2 socket.
  2. The so-called Type 1 plug allows single-phase charging power up to 7.4 kw. It is mainly used in car models from the asian region, which is why there are hardly any charging stations with a permanently attached type 1 charging cable in europe. With the help of adapter cables, type 2 charging stations can be used. New vehicles with type 1 plugs are no longer offered in europe, but you may still come across them occasionally when buying a used car.
  3. The combo or CCS plug (combined charging system) is designed for fast charging with direct current. This plug connection is more or less an extended type 2 plug. E-cars with fast charging option usually have a connector that fits both the CCS and the type-2 plug. This type of plug is widely used for fast charging in Europe with direct current. The latest fast charging points with CCS connection, so-called HPC (high power charging) chargers, provide up to 350 kw charging power. However, only a few vehicles can currently handle it; if necessary, the power is automatically regulated down to the corresponding vehicle.
  4. The plug most commonly used by Japanese manufacturers for fast DC charging is the chademo plug. Currently, charging power of about 50 kw is offered, but theoretically, significantly more than 100 kw is possible.

Some plug types are compatible with each other via adapter cable. As a rule, the equipment of an electric car includes a cable with a plug that matches the vehicle and a plug for the charging stations. In a few cases, e-car manufacturers may offer exclusive plugs. Continuous charging of an electric car at a normal household socket should be avoided. This poses a serious safety hazard, as the power lines in the house are overloaded and, in the worst case, fires can start. Further information on private charging can be found here.

The electric car battery only stores direct current (DC). To convert the mains alternating current (AC), a rectifier is available either in the e-car (AC charging) or in the quick charging station (DC charging).

Type-2 plug

Gerhard seybert / fotolia

The so-called type 2 plug is considered the standard european connection for electric cars and is the most widely used here. It can transmit a charging power of about 43 kw. A type-2 plug is also a prerequisite for the current subsidies in NRW.

An e-car refuels solar power

The so-called type-1 plug allows charging powers of up to 7.4 kw. It is mainly used in car models from the asian region, which is why there are hardly any charging stations in europe with a permanently attached type 1 charging cable. Type 2 charging points can be used with adapter cables.

The combo or CCS (combined charging system) plug is designed for fast charging by means of direct current and alternating current. Theoretically, up to 170 kW of power is currently possible, but in reality the charging capacity is significantly lower. For fast charging in europe by means of direct current, this type of plug is widely used.

ChaDeMo plug

Karin& uwe annas / fotolia

The plug most commonly used by Japanese manufacturers for fast DC charging is the chademo plug. Charging power of around 50 kW can currently be transmitted, but 100 kW is theoretically possible.

How environmentally harmful is an electric car??

The life cycle assessment of electric cars and internal combustion engines is a hotly debated topic in the public arena. Current studies show that e-cars already have a climate advantage over internal-combustion vehicles throughout their entire life cycle. The electricity mix plays a crucial role.

The fact is that the more green electricity they have in their battery – for example, directly from the PV system on the roof – the less CO2 an electric car emits. Fully charged with green electricity, electric vehicles produce no CO2 emissions during operation.

Most energy is consumed in the production of the batteries. But with more efficient production processes, a higher share of renewable energy in the electricity mix, and improved battery cell technology, the carbon footprint of battery manufacturing is steadily improving.

The environmental impact and social problems associated with the extraction of some of the raw materials required for the batteries – especially lithium and cobalt – must be viewed critically in some areas. However, there are signs of improvements in the future through stricter production legislation, improved recycling and research into alternative raw materials. Nevertheless, it can make sense not to choose the largest battery if the e-car is mainly used for shorter distances. Your wallet and the environment will thank you for it.

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