Electric vehicle owners have a range of options when it comes to recharging. AC Level 1 and AC Level 2 charging can be adopted in almost any household, and are a great way to charge your vehicle overnight. While these charging stations are convenient and affordable, they charge at a rate of 2-5 miles of range per hour and 10-20 miles of range per hour respectively and are therefore not suitable for long trips that require on-the-go charging.
Does this mean that traditional petroleum vehicles have the edge when it comes to range and refueling? Not necessarily…
DC Quick Charging (DCQC) is a much faster, publically available alternative that allows you to recharge 60-80 miles of range for every twenty minutes of charging. This makes it ideal for rapid charging during the day, and facilitates the use of electric vehicles during long-distance trips.
An Introduction to DC Quick Charging
While DC Quick Charging provides a fast, convenient method of recharging an electric vehicle’s battery, installation costs range between $50,000 - $100,000, and although there are incentives on the market to reduce the cost of electric vehicle charging equipment, these are mainly targeted at AC Level 1 and AC Level 2 chargers. As such, DC Quick Charging stations are meant for commercial and public use.
DCQC stations are typically installed in urban areas and along heavily trafficked corridors. Many stations are in areas with surrounding amenities like shopping districts, restaurants, and hotels, so that vehicles can recharge while you go about your daily activities.
You might notice that electric vehicles have varied charging ports; next we explain the different types of DCQC charger.
Types of DC Fast Charger
There are three main types of DC Quick Charging systems, depending on the charging port of the vehicle:
On the DC Fast Charging Network, ChaDeMo and CCS compete as the market standard for third party distribution, while there is a growing trend to incorporate both types of charger in the same charging station. On the other hand, Tesla Superchargers exist on their own network. This means that there are two distinct networks: the Tesla Supercharger network, and the brand-agnostic network - the following sections examine the different fast charging standards within this context.
Tesla Superchargers allow Tesla vehicles to be fast-charged on the network within an hour. There are 443 superchargers strategically distributed around the United States to allow owners to drive between major cities, and across the country.
Supercharging is free for all Model S and Model X cars that were ordered before January 15, 2017 or for vehicles purchased using a referral code. Model S and Model X cars purchased after this date are limited to 400 kWh (~1000 miles) of free supercharger credits, while the Model 3 is not entitled to any free supercharging credits. These credits can be checked through your Tesla account.
Tesla owners can expect to be billed in one of two ways: per minute billing, or per kWh billing. While Tesla has stated they would like to charge per kWh all the time, this is not possible in certain areas due to market regulation.
When billing per minute, there are a further two tiers. Tier 1 applies when vehicles are charging at 60 kW or below, or when a vehicle is sharing supercharger power with another car. Tier 2 applies when a vehicle is charging above 60 kW. Tier 1 is half the cost of Tier 2. In addition to the cost of charging, Tesla charges a fee for vehicles that stay connected to the network after they have been fully charged ($0.40 per minute). This fee is waived if the vehicle is removed within five minutes.
To supplement the Supercharger network, there is also the Tesla Destination Charging Network which facilitates AC Level 2 charging over a few hours/overnight. Supplementary public charging stations are also available but may require the use of a ChaDeMo adaptor.
**A table summarizing the costs associated with using the Supercharger network in different states can be found in the Supplementary Information
The Brand-Agnostic Charging Network
While the ChaDeMo and Combined Charging System stations usually exist on their own, there are some stations which host both standards, and these combined charging stations are a growing trend. Below we describe the characteristics of both standards.
ChaDeMo Fast Charging
ChaDeMo is the trade name of a quick charging method for electric vehicles, delivering up to 62.5 kW through a special electrical connector. It is the most widely used electrical standard both globally, and in the United States. According to the ChaDeMo Association, there are 2,204 ChaDeMo chargers installed in the United States.
The following cars support ChaDeMO fast charging:
Combined Charging System
The Combined Charging System can currently provide upto 200 kW of power, with room for growth to a maximum of 350 kW.
The following cars support CCS fast charging:
Through a special adapter, vehicles with CCS capability can also use Tesla destination charging (not fast charging), although there is possible scope for this to expand to the Supercharging network as Tesla is a part of the group that supports CCS.
There is free and priced charging infrastructure for both the ChaDeMo, and CCS standards. Charging station locations can be easily found through the Plugshare interactive map.
The cost of charging varies considerably; many workplace and public chargers are free, while priced charging infrastructure varies from provider to provider, and in fact from station to station. Some providers utilize a model that offers free charging if a vehicle owner pays for parking, while other models are based on time of charging or energy costs associated with charging flat fees per charging session, or subscription plans that offer unlimited charging or discounted charging.
**The costs associated with different vendors and pricing models can be found in the Supplementary Information
Tesla vs. Brand-Agnostic Charging
ChaDeMo and CCS are supplied by many individual vendors - this complicates matters, especially for vendors with subscription-based models. Since subscription-based pricing is the industry standard, this can be frustrating for many EV drivers as they must balance various different subscriptions, must engage in more comprehensive planning, and also may end up paying more overall.
The homogeneous nature of Tesla’s network means that these considerations are more easily addressed, although Superchargers are spaced much further apart than ChaDeMo/CCS stations. This is mainly because Tesla vehicles have a much longer range than ChaDeMo/CCS vehicles, and the network is designed to maximize the range in which Tesla vehicles can be driven. Brand-agnostic networks are usually concentrated in populated areas and cater for vehicles with a sub-100 mile range - this makes ChaDeMO/CCS ideal for short-distance driving.
Going forward, the cross-functional ability for Tesla vehicles to fast charge using widespread ChaDeMo infrastructure makes for charging in areas without Superchargers a viable option. There is also the growing ability to use CCS chargers on the Tesla network, and a growing number of stations that allow charging of both CCS and ChaDeMo standards. All of this shows a growing trend that increases the convenience of DC Quick Charging.
The Google Sheet below explores the costs associated with the Tesla Supercharger network:
**There are no superchargers currently installed in Alaska, Arkansas, and Hawaii
The Google Sheet below explores the costs associated with third-party ChaDeMo/CCS vendors: