Ted Kidd shared some useful insight on the bottom of this long article comparing the charging capabilities of 27 electric car models, but it’s a topic that I thought deserved a little more attention in a separate post. The basic point is that different electric car models have quite different abilities when it comes to Level 2 charging — some, for example, have a maximum charging capability of 3.3 kW, while others have as much as 20 kW — and this is a very important factor in the practicality and convenience of an electric car.
To spell it out further, say you have a Smart Electric Drive (which has a 3.3 kW onboard charger) and are out on the town and need to add 20 miles. There are no DC fast chargers around (well, that doesn’t matter in this case, as your car doesn’t have fast-charging capability anyway) but there are several Level 2 charging stations in the vicinity. It will take you approximately 2 hours to add those 20 miles.
Now, say you have a Mercedes B-Class Electric (which currently uses a Tesla battery pack with a 10 kW onboard charger). Again, assuming you need to add 20 miles and you have Level 2 charging stations around that you can use, you can plug in for just about 40 minutes and get that 20 miles. You can theoretically get some food, do some shopping, or do something else useful in that time, whereas filling 2 hours in order to get 20 miles is likely to cause much more inconvenience.
Of course, how likely you are to need public charging at all is an individual matter, and many may not need it and may not care much about the capacity of their EV’s onboard charger, but it’s definitely something to consider before buying an electric car.
For more details an consideration, see: Electric Car Charging 101 — Types of Charging, Charging Networks, Apps, & More!