These are the fastest-charging electric cars, if you're in a hurry

Here’s the what’s-watt on electric vehicle battery sizes and charging times

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As Australia's electric vehicle market grows, you’ll read more about kilowatt-hours (kWh) – the EV equivalent of fuel litres (L).

That’s because the amount of power an EV battery can store dictates how far you can drive before needing to plug in for a recharge, just like the volume of a fuel tank.

But, it's also important to also consider how long it takes to charge – especially when you venture on long road trips that are beyond the driving range limits of an EV and require public charging stops.

Here’s what the numbers mean and what you need to look for when considering the electric switch.


This is a long story, but our index of jump links right here will help you get to the parts you need most.

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🔢 What’s a kilowatt-hour (kWh)?

For most buyers, it's not necessary to know the physics and science behind a kilowatt-hour (kWh) any more than you need to understand the calculation of a combustion engine’s power figures.

Put simply, a kWh is a unit of energy just like a calorie or joule, but one that’s particularly applicable to electric vehicle batteries.

The higher the number, the more energy the battery can absorb via charging and then release when required to drive the vehicle for (theoretically) longer range on one charge.

👉 Gross vs net: Only look at one…

There are two battery size numbers – nominal (gross) and usable (net). But, only the latter should be looked at since it's the actual energy that can be stored and used by owners.

For context, the BMW iX large electric SUV is available with a 112kWh (gross) battery, while the Mazda MX-30 is 35.5kWh (gross). However, the actual usable sizes are 105kWh and 30kWh respectively.

This is because manufacturers implement bottom and top ‘buffers’ to help protect the battery health and ensure safety.

Unfortunately, some carmakers only quote the gross number in marketing and press material – which is misleading.

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⭐️ 80 is the golden number

Charging a battery is comparable to filling a drink bottle, where you slow down the pouring pressure to fill the top-end, without overflowing.

After the 80 per cent mark, charging speed slows dramatically – regardless of the battery type. That’s why EV manufacturers often refer to an 80 per cent charge time, as this offers the best range-for-time value.

For example, plugging in from 10 to 80 per cent typically takes the same time as the last 20 going from 80 to 100 per cent – which effectively doubles your waiting time for not much range gain, unless a full charge is necessary on a long-distance road trip.

❗️ Why 80 per cent is critical

Importantly, limiting everyday charging to 80 per cent is the general rule to maintain good battery health for lithium-ion packs, as cells are more stressed at the top- and bottom-end – especially when kept for extended periods.

However, the emergence of lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cathodes in entry-level EVs generally allows for regular 100 per cent charging, with less excessive degradation concerns.

Car manufacturers have different charge limit recommendations (for example, Volvo and Polestar suggest 90 per cent for their lithium-ion battery EVs), so follow the owner’s manual.

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🪫 Battery design

All EV batteries feature sophisticated active and passive cooling systems – via battery management system (BMS) software – to control the significant amount of heat generated by the fast charging and discharging.

Cooling systems can also be reversed to warm the battery during very cold weather.

Some EVs, such as the BYD Atto 3, Tesla Model 3 and Genesis GV60, include heat pumps as standard – which is a significantly more efficient way to heat or cool the interior air-conditioning system and the battery by repurposing waste heat from the electric drive unit.

How efficiently the cooling system moves heat away from the individual battery cells can affect the charging speed.

Audi E-Tron charging time versus competitors
Supplied: Audi Q8 E-Tron charging curve

🤷 Why higher numbers isn’t always fastest

It's important to note that charging providers and carmakers only quote the maximum charge rate number in kilowatts (kW).

In reality on a public DC fast charging station, owners will only hit the advertised peak speed under optimum conditions. Charging speeds can slow dramatically if the heat builds up too fast (usually in summer climates).

The BMS will slow down the charging input speeds over time as the battery fills up to avoid stressing the cells and causing excessive degradation.

For example, as demonstrated by the Audi Q8 E-Tron's charging curve above, an EV with a 150kW DC peak charging rate could actually take longer to charge compared to an EV with an 80kW DC capability – if the former’s BMS throttles speeds significantly over time, whereas the latter’s BMS sustains higher speeds for longer even if the initial peak isn't as fast.

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2023 Kia Niro Review Mike Stevens 24

🔌 Charging power (kW) and force (V)

Electricity’s physics and behaviour is similar to a water hose. Current (measured in amps) is like the water’s flow speed and quantity, while voltage is more like the water’s pressure.

That’s the secret to the circa-20 minute rapid charging times of models, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Porsche Taycan. Unlike most other EVs, which use up to 400 volts, they adopt a more advanced 800-volt class battery architecture.

It means the ‘pressure’ of current (measured in amperage) of charging electrons into the battery is higher, enabling more driving range to be pushed into the cells in a shorter time. It also generates less heat, enables thinner charging cables, and has performance driving advantages when discharging, too.

🤔 400 vs 800-volts: What’s the difference?

Standard 400-volt class EVs, such as long range battery Tesla Model Y, Polestar 3, and Volvo EX90 can also reach ultra-rapid 250kW DC speeds – so what’s the difference?

They require pulling more current, which generates more heat – and could trigger the BMS to throttle the charging power quicker – resulting in a theoretically slower charge time overall than an 800-volt class EV.

An 800-volt class battery architecture allows for sustained high charging speeds for longer over time – even when connected to a more common 400-volt based DC charging station (after conversion).

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⏱️ How to achieve maximum fast charging speeds

  • Use a compatible public DC fast charging station that outputs the same or more than the EV model’s peak DC capability
  • Plug in from a low battery percentage, in warm weather and drive a bit before arriving at the station
  • On equipped EV models, enable the battery preconditioning function (usually via the built-in maps) to actively heat up the battery before arriving

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EV charging is separated by slow AC charging and fast DC charging speeds – which is limited by the power source and model’s maximum capabilities.

Plug your smartphone at night and it will be ready for another day’s use the following morning. It’s a similar routine for electric cars – if you can (ideally) plug in at home.

If an EV provides more than enough range for your daily needs (200 to 600km depending on the model), then you only need to replenish enough for the next day via a three-pin trickle charging cable.

After all, you don’t need to always fully fill up a fuel tank – the average Australian only drives between 30 to 40km per day.

This is the most basic method and can recharge up to 80 per cent in around two to four full nights depending on the model.

Audi's head of charging development, Silvia Gramlich, told WhichCar that the crucial question for EV buyers is: “How many kilowatt hours can I recharge in what period of time?”

However, if you need the guarantee of a full charge every day, then you’ll need to install a Level 2 7kW single-phase or 11kW three-phase AC wall box charger.

Though, the limiting factor is still alternating current (AC) power – volts and amps. EV batteries need to store energy as direct current (DC) and uses a built-in AC to DC inverter.

That’s why almost every EV model offers DC charging, which is substantially faster without the need to convert energy. DC charging is only found at public stations, where a quick top-up is most suited.

Just how fast depends on the charging power limits of the charging station output (generally between 50kW to 350kW DC) and the EV model input, as detailed here.

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In 30 minutes or less, I'm free...

These EVs boast a claimed 10 to 80 per cent charge time of 30 minutes or less.

Some models below also demonstrate a high charge rate doesn’t always mean quick charging times – a small battery with a decent enough 100kW DC speed could be faster to replenish than a large battery on a 350kW ultra-rapid rate.

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🤔 How long does it take to charge an EV and how much?

This story focuses on the fastest-charging EVs, but does it generally take too long to charge an EV and how much does it all cost? Check out our detailed explainers below.

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🔋 Every fastest-charging EV in Australia, by max DC rate

Figures below are claimed by the manufacturer and apply to all model variants, unless otherwise stated. Real-world charging times will vary depending on the charging station output, charging losses, BMS, battery temperature and percentage.

*While the Hyundai Motor Group claims a 350kW DC peak for its 800-volt class based EVs, real-world tests consistently observe a maximum rate of around 240kW instead.

**Usable battery size according to EV Database [↗] since Tesla does not disclose battery sizes.

ModelUsable battery sizeMax slow charge speed (AC)Max fast charge speed (DC)
Genesis GV6074kWh10.5kW350kW*
Genesis Electrified GV7074kWh10.5kW350kW*
Genesis Electrified G8082.5kWh10.5kW350kW*
Hyundai Ioniq 574kWh10.5kW350kW*
Hyundai Ioniq 674kWh10.5kW350kW*
Kia EV674kWh10.5kW350kW*
Audi E-Tron GT85kWh11kW270kW
Porsche Taycan GTS/ Turbo/Turbo S83.7kWh22kW270kW
Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo 4/4S/Turbo83.7kWh22kW270kW
Polestar 3107kWh11kW250kW
Tesla Model 3 Long Range/Performance75kWh**11kW250kW
Model Y Long Range/Performance75kWh**11kW250kW
Porsche Taycan base/4S71kWh11kW (22kW optional)230kW
Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor/Dual Motor79kWh11kW205kW
BMW i581.2kWh22kW205kW
BMW i480.7kWh11kW200kW
BMW i7101.7kWh11kW200kW
BMW iX xDrive40/xDrive40 Sport71kWh11kW200kW
BMW iX xDrive50 Sport/M60105.2kWh11kW200kW
Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 liftback107.8kWh11kW (22kW optional)200kW
Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Motor Ultimate79kWh11kW200kW
Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Motor Ultimate79kWh11kW200kW
Audi E-Tron 5064.7kWh11kW170kW
Audi E-Tron 55/S86.5kWh11kW170kW
Cupra Born77kWh11kW170kW
Mercedes-Benz EQE 300 sedan89kWh11kW (22kW optional)170kW
Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 4Matic/AMG EQE 53 sedan90.5kWh11kW (22kW optional)170kW
Tesla Model 3 RWD57.5kWh**11kW170kW
Tesla Model Y RWD57.5kWh**11kW170kW
Volvo EX3064kWh11kW153kW
BMW iX374kWh11kW150kW
Ford Mustang Mach-E Select71kWh11kW150kW
Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium/GT91kWh11kW150kW
Lexus RZ64kWh11kW150kW
MG 4 Excite/Essence 6461.7kWh6.6kW140kW
MG 4 Long Range 7777kWh11kW140kW
Polestar 2 Standard Range Single Motor67kWh11kW135kW
BMW iX165kWh22kW130kW
Volvo XC40 Recharge Single Motor Plus66kWh11kW130kW
Volvo C40 Recharge Single Motor Plus66kWh11kW130kW
LDV Mifa 990kWh11kW120kW
Ford E-Transit68kWh11kW115kW
Mercedes-Benz EQV90kWh11kW110kW
Jaguar I-Pace84.7kWh11kW100kW
Mercedes-Benz EQA66.5kWh11kW100kW
Mercedes-Benz EQB66.5kWh11kW100kW
Mercedes-Benz EQC80kWh11kW100kW
Nissan Leaf e+59kWh7kW100kW
Peugeot E-200846.3kWh11kW100kW
Peugeot E-Partner46.3kWh11kW100kW
MG 4 Excite 5150.8kWh6.6kW88kW
Fiat 500e37.3kWh11kW85kW
Kia Niro EV64.8kWh11kW84kW
BYD Atto 3 Extended Range60.48kWh7.4kW80kW
BYD Dolphin Premium60.48kWh7kW80kW
GWM Ora Standard Range45.4kWh11kW80kW
GWM Ora Extended Range/Ultra/GT59.3kWh11kW80kW
LDV eT6088.55kWh11kW80kW
LDV eDeliver 9 Cab Chassis65kWh11kW80kW
LDV eDeliver 9 LWB Mid/High Roof88.55kWh11kW80kW
Mercedes-Benz eVito panel van60kWh11kW80kW
Mercedes-Benz eVito Tourer90kWh11kW80kW
MG ZS EV Essence49kWh11kW80kW
MG ZS EV Long Range68.3kWh11kW80kW
BYD Atto 3 Standard Range49.92kWh7.4kW70kW
BYD Dolphin Dynamic44.9kWh7kW60kW
Lexus UX300e64kWh6.6kW50kW
Mini Cooper SE28.9kWh11kW50kW
Nissan Leaf39kWh7kW50kW
Mazda MX-30 Electric30kWh6.6kW50kW

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💯 Knowledge is power

Just as you should when considering any car purchase, arm yourself with the relevant information and have a list of all the things you need in your next electric car.

Get your head around battery sizes in kWh, find out the AC/DC charging capabilities for the particular model you're interested in as above, and determine whether you can charge at home and locate where public charging stations are using platforms, such as PlugShare [↗].

Of course, charging speed isn’t everything. If you plug in at home or work overnight, then you don’t need to charge so quickly – and frequent fast charging is unhealthy for batteries in the long-run.

Energy efficiency and driving range, features, practicality and aftersales provisions are also important, so a little research will enable you to find the perfect EV to fit your needs. For more, check out our comprehensive EV guides below.

Wheels Media thanks Daniel Gardner for the original version of this story.

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Henry Man


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