Charging an EV is as easy as charging a phone

‘Refueling’ an electric car is as simple as plugging it into a standard socket.

Woman charging Nissan Leaf

At the end of each day, Sean and Imogen plug in their phones and their iPad to recharge overnight. They also plug in their 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car. Sean uses the car on his daily 60km round-trip commute.

It’s plugged into an electrical socket in their garage, and the overnight charge gives it a range of between 100km and 120km. “And that’s less than $3 (in electricity) to charge up to that level,” says Sean. He estimates it costs between $350 and $400 in electricity a year to charge the car. “Compare that to over $2000 in petrol a year that we were spending, and that was on a fairly economical little 1.6 litre car.”

While it takes about eight hours for a full charge using a standard socket, you don’t have to fully charge it each time you plug it in. “The first 80% charges quite quickly,” says Imogen. In fact, like your iPhone, it’s better for the battery’s health not to charge it to the max.

There’s a thing among new owners of electric vehicles called range anxiety – the fear that you’ll run out of charge. But Sean and Imogen say the car gives plenty of warning when it is running low on charge and there are plenty of charging options.

Nissan Leaf dashboard

I've used the fast charge at a Z [service station] before,” says Imogen. “You can get it charged in about 10 to 15 minutes. I think it cost me about $10, so that’s really good value. You can find other slower charge docking stations at supermarkets or various institutions around the city. They are cropping up more and more.”

In fact, the car can be charged using any standard electrical socket. “It just charges off a regular outlet so I take this [power cord] to work sometimes and plug it in at work to give me an extra bit of charge when I’m working,” says Sean.

Just like petrol cars, the way you drive impacts the efficiency of the vehicle. The battery runs down quicker the faster the car is being driven. “The best efficiency of use is in the 30km/hr to 80km/hr range, so for a commuter car or someone who’s going to be in traffic a lot, it’s perfect,” says Sean.