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Basic knowledge Do you want to find out key information about e-mobility? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

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Quick charge or normal charge?

You frequently hear about two terms when it comes to the charging time for electric cars: quick charge and normal charge. Here we show you the advantages and disadvantages of both charging options.

Quick charge

This charging type charges the vehicle to 80% within around half an hour. It’s usually done at public charging stations since only these are capable of achieving the around 150-kilowatt charging capacity as opposed to conventional sockets at home. However, not all electric vehicles are fitted with the technology for quick charging.

Advantages:

  • Very short charging time, enables you to get going again quickly on long journeys
  • Locations usually found at motorway service stations but increasingly also along inner-city motorways

Disadvantages:

  • High prices for charging
  • Quick charging too frequently may harm the battery and reduce its lifespan accordingly
  • Charging only to approx. 80% due to risk of overloading 

Normal charge

Normal charging, also known as AC charging (alternating current), is the most widespread form of charging. It is used to charge vehicles at home using your own power, for example. 

Advantages:

  • Lots of charging stations (around 3,000 throughout Switzerland)
  • Works using household power (prior inspection by electrician)
  • Works with every electric vehicle
  • Cheaper than quick charging

Disadvantages:

  • Very long charging time, therefore also unsuited to long routes

How long does an electric car battery last?

The lithium-ion batteries built into electric cars are sufficient for 500 to 1,200 charging cycles and have a lifespan of around eight to ten years. During this period, the battery capacity drops to between 70% and 80%. The battery is therefore capable of covering 100,000 to 160,000 kilometres in total.

Quick charging puts a strain on the battery. High charging currents lead to high temperatures. It also entails increased loss of charge and thus increased energy costs. Quick charging is not bad or harmful in itself, but slow charging should be preferred.

Allowing the battery charge to become near zero should be avoided. This applies particularly if the vehicle is left unused in this state for a prolonged period. Remaining (near) empty reduces the lifespan of the battery. Ideally, the charging level should be no lower than 50% (+/-30%). A charge level of 100% should only be the goal if the full range is actually needed for a trip.

Charging process and charging stations

Plug types

There are the following types of plugs:

Alternating current charging is handled using type 2 plugs. The type 1 plug is found only on older model electric vehicles. These can be charged using a type 2 charging station with an adapter.

Direct current charging can be performed using two types of plug:

  • CCS: the European standard based on the type 2 plug (Combined Charging System), which currently has a maximum charging rate of 100 kW. There are plans for charging rates of between 150 and 350 kW.
  • CHAdeMO: the Japanese standard (Charge de Move), which currently has a maximum charging capacity of 50 kW. It was developed by the energy company Tepco and car manufacturers Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Subaru.

Charging capacity

The charging capacity is the most important criterion for how long an electric car needs to be connected to the mains to fully charge. A household plug provides charging capacity of around 3.5 kW, a regular charging station or wallbox general provides around 10 to 22 kW, a quick charging station up to 50 kW, 62.5 kW (Chademo), 135 kW (Tesla supercharger) or 170 kW (CCS). Future ultra quick charging will provide 350 kW. To charge an electric car battery with a capacity of 24 kWh, it would need to be connected to a household socket for around seven hours (simplified calculation), whereas with a supercharger, it would be full in just over ten minutes.

Supercharger

Tesla electricity filling stations for their own brand cars. The Tesla system in Europe uses modified type 2 and CCS plugs. The new V3 Tesla charging stations can be used to charge at up to 250 kW. Tesla model batteries can be topped up at a supercharger in just a few minutes. At the end of 2019, there were over 500 such charging stations.

Wallbox

A wallbox is a charging station for electric cars fitted to a wall. A wallbox properly installed by an approved electrician minimizes the dangers of electric power to people and devices when charging an electric vehicle. A wallbox needs to feature a special RCD circuit breaker. Wallboxes can operate at a higher charging capacity than conventional household sockets (up to 22 kW).

Alternating current (AC)

Alternating current is a form of electric power whose direction changes periodically, i.e. it alternates.

Number of charging stations in Switzerland

The infrastructure network for electric filling stations in Switzerland has advanced greatly in recent years. Around 3,500 charging stations can now be found along Swiss roads. 

Costs for filling up

The amount of electricity consumed while driving varies depending on the model and type of vehicle. But a good rule of thumb is: the power costs for 100 km total around CHF 4. By comparison: fossil fuel-powered engines require around CHF 10 per 100 km.

A

Alternating current (AC)

Alternating current is a form of electric power whose direction changes periodically, i.e. it alternates.

B

C

Charging capacity

Charging capacity is the electrical power in kilowatts (kW) with which a drive battery is charged. Multiplied by the charging time, this results in the capacity stored in the battery in kilowatt hours (kWh).

Charging capacity

The charging capacity is the most important criterion for how long an electric car needs to be connected to the mains to fully charge. A household plug provides charging capacity of around 3.5 kW, a regular charging station or wallbox general provides around 10 to 22 kW, a quick charging station up to 50 kW, 62.5 kW (Chademo), 135 kW (Tesla supercharger) or 170 kW (CCS). Future ultra quick charging will provide 350 kW. To charge an electric car battery with a capacity of 24 kWh, it would need to be connected to a household socket for around seven hours (simplified calculation), whereas with a supercharger, it would be full in just over ten minutes.

D

E

Eco-electricity

Eco-electricity is a term describing electrical energy gained from renewable sources, i.e. hydroelectric, solar and wind. Environmental performance evaluation of the drive types.

Electric car

An electric vehicle is a purely battery-operated vehicle with a drive system in which all energy converters are exclusively electrical machines and all energy storage devices are exclusively rechargeable, electrical energy storage devices.

Energy density

The energy density indicates the storage quantity of energy per unit of volume MJ/l or mass MJ/kg. The value describes how much energy can be contained or stored in one kilogram, for example. Compared to liquid fuels such as diesel or petrol, accumulators have a significantly lower energy density.

F

Full hybrid

In contrast to the mild hybrid, the electric motor in a full hybrid can power the vehicle on its own, especially when starting and at low speeds.

G

H

Hybrid vehicles

Hybrid vehicles possess at least two different drive technologies and separate energy stores (e.g. combustion engine and electric motor). They operate individually or in combination to drive the vehicle. This combination allows both systems to work with optimum efficiency, thereby improving efficiency, range and pollutant emissions.

I

J

K

L

M

Mild hybrid

In a mild hybrid vehicle, an electric motor (often as a combined starter generator) supports the combustion engine when accelerating. Braking energy is stored in a battery. A mild hybrid cannot drive purely on electric power.

N

Normal charge

Normal charging, also known as AC charging (alternating current), is the most widespread form of charging. It is used to charge vehicles at home using your own power, for example. 

Advantages:

  • Lots of charging stations (around 3,000 throughout Switzerland)
  • Works using household power (prior inspection by electrician)
  • Works with every electric vehicle
  • Cheaper than quick charging

Disadvantages:

  • Very long charging time, therefore also unsuited to long routes

O

P

Plug types

There are the following types of plugs:

  • Alternating current charging is handled using type 2 plugs. The type 1 plug is only found on older model electric vehicles. These can be charged using a type 2 charging station with an adapter.
  • Direct current charging can be performed using two types of plug:
    - CCS: the European standard based on the type 2 plug (Combined Charging System), which currently has a maximum charging power of 100 kW. There are plans for charging rates of between 150 and 350 kW.  
    - CHAdeMO: the Japanese standard (Charge de Move), which currently has a maximum charging power of 50 kW. It was developed by the energy company Tepco and car manufacturers Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Subaru.
Plug-in hybrid

A type of part-time electric car mixed with a hybrid vehicle. There is usually a comparatively small battery on board that can be charged using a socket and enables a purely electric range of around 50 kilometres. The car is then powered by the hybrid drive. The plug-in hybrid drive is regarded as a bridging technology until the introduction of high-performance batteries, which will also enable purely electric cars to have a workable range.

Q

Quick charge

This charging type charges the vehicle to 80% within around half an hour. It’s usually done at public charging stations since only these are capable of achieving the around 150-kilowatt charging capacity as opposed to conventional sockets at home. However, not all electric vehicles are fitted with the technology for quick charging.

Advantages:

  • Very short charging time, enables you to get going again quickly on long journeys
  • Locations usually found at motorway service stations but increasingly also along inner-city motorways

Disadvantages:

  • High prices for charging
  • Quick charging too frequently may harm the battery and reduce its lifespan accordingly
  • Charging only to approx. 80% due to risk of overloading

R

Range extender

Usually a small combustion engine that does not power the wheels but is instead a power generator which charges the battery while driving. This means that even once the power reserve provided by the socket has run out, the car can continue running. However, this is only a type of emergency solution as the engine is rather pared down and does not operate very efficiently all considered. At present, only the BMW i3 uses this technology in Germany. It comes as an optional extra.

S

Supercharger

Tesla’s free-of-charge electricity filling stations for their own brand cars. The Tesla system in Europe uses a modified type 2 plug, which also enables alternating current charging at 135 kW in contrast to the counterpart used by other brands. The batteries in Tesla models S, X and others can be topped up at a supercharger in just a few minutes free of charge. Tesla operates over 1,600 such charging stations in Europe.

T

Total range

The range indicates how many kilometres the electric car can cover on one charge. There are sometimes considerable differences between the actual range under real conditions and the range determined under laboratory conditions.

U

V

W

Wallbox

A wallbox is a charging station for electric cars fitted to a wall. A wallbox properly installed by an approved electrician minimizes the dangers of electric power to people and devices when charging an electric vehicle. A wallbox needs to feature a special RCD circuit breaker. Wallboxes can operate at a higher charging capacity than conventional household sockets (up to 22 kW).

X

Y

Z