How Much & How Long Does It Take To Charge an Electric Vehicle?

The shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) has brought a significant change to road travel, especially for long-distance trips across the country. One of the most critical aspects of planning such a journey is understanding the time required for charging the vehicle. Here's a detailed look at how long it takes to charge an electric car while traveling across the country.

Factors Influencing Charging Time

Several factors influence the charging time of an electric vehicle on a long trip, including:

  1. Battery Size and State of Charge (SoC): Larger batteries take longer to charge, and the time required can vary depending on how depleted the battery is.
  2. Charging Infrastructure: The availability and type of charging stations (Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast chargers) along the route significantly affect charging times.
  3. Vehicle's Charging Capability: Different EVs have varying maximum charging rates. For example, a Tesla Model 3 can accept a higher rate than a Nissan Leaf.
  4. Route and Distance: The overall distance and the chosen route impact the number of charging stops required.
  5. Driving Conditions: Speed, weather conditions, and driving style can influence energy consumption and thus the frequency and duration of charging stops.

Types of Charging Stations

  1. Level 1 Chargers: These are standard home outlets (120V), offering the slowest charging rate. Typically, they provide about 3-5 miles of range per hour of charging, which makes them impractical for cross-country travel.
  2. Level 2 Chargers: These are more powerful (240V) and can be found in many public locations. They provide about 15-30 miles of range per hour.
  3. DC Fast Chargers: These are the most efficient for long trips, delivering 60-100 miles of range in about 20 minutes. They are available at many highway rest stops and major EV charging networks.

Typical Charging Scenarios

To provide a clearer picture, let’s consider a hypothetical trip across the United States, say from New York City to Los Angeles, a journey of approximately 2,800 miles.

Using a Tesla Model 3:

  • Range per charge: Around 300 miles.
  • Charging time at a Supercharger: 20-30 minutes to 80% (240 miles).
  • Stops required: About 10-12, depending on exact driving conditions and detours.
  • Total charging time: Roughly 5-6 hours.

Using a Nissan Leaf:

  • Range per charge: Around 150 miles.
  • Charging time at a DC fast charger: About 40-45 minutes to 80% (120 miles).
  • Stops required: Around 20-22.
  • Total charging time: Approximately 15-17 hours.

Real-World Examples

Several real-world examples highlight the practical aspects of cross-country EV travel:

  1. Tesla Model S: In 2018, a team drove a Tesla Model S 3,650 miles from California to New York in 48 hours, with a total charging time of about 12 hours at Superchargers.
  2. Nissan Leaf: In 2020, a group drove a Nissan Leaf from the UK to Mongolia, covering 10,000 miles. They reported longer charging times due to less dense fast-charging networks, taking several hours each day to charge.

Planning and Tools

Planning is crucial for efficient EV travel. Tools like Tesla's Trip Planner or apps such as PlugShare and A Better Routeplanner can help identify charging stations along the route and estimate charging times.


Traveling across the country in an electric vehicle is feasible and increasingly convenient as the charging infrastructure improves. While the charging time can vary significantly based on the vehicle and the route, most modern EVs, especially those with access to fast-charging networks, can make the trip with manageable charging stops. With proper planning, electric road trips can be a smooth and enjoyable experience, contributing to a more sustainable future of travel. 

The Cost of Charging an Electric Car When Traveling Across the Country

As electric vehicles (EVs) gain popularity, understanding the costs associated with charging them on long-distance trips is crucial for potential and current EV owners. Traveling across the country in an electric car can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option, but it requires some planning and knowledge about charging costs. Here’s an in-depth look at what you can expect to spend on charging your EV on a cross-country journey.

Factors Influencing Charging Costs

Several factors influence the cost of charging an electric vehicle while traveling:

  1. Type of Charging Station: The cost varies significantly between Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast chargers.
  2. Charging Network: Different networks have different pricing models, including pay-per-use, subscription, or membership-based pricing.
  3. Location: Electricity costs can vary by state and even within regions of a state.
  4. Time of Day: Some networks offer variable pricing based on peak and off-peak hours.
  5. Vehicle Efficiency and Battery Size: More efficient vehicles or those with smaller batteries cost less to charge fully.

Types of Charging Stations and Their Costs

  1. Level 1 Chargers: These are standard home outlets (120V) and are generally not used for long trips due to their slow charging speed. If used, they typically cost the same as home electricity rates, averaging about $0.10-$0.15 per kWh.

  2. Level 2 Chargers: These chargers (240V) are more common at public charging stations and provide a faster charge. Costs can range from free (at some public locations) to $0.20-$0.30 per kWh, or a flat fee per session, typically around $1-$3 per hour.

  3. DC Fast Chargers: These are the fastest and most expensive options, often used for long-distance travel. Costs can vary widely:

    • Tesla Superchargers: Typically cost $0.25-$0.35 per kWh.
    • Other networks (e.g., Electrify America, EVgo): Can charge $0.30-$0.60 per kWh, with some networks offering subscription plans that reduce the per-kWh cost.

Estimating Cross-Country Charging Costs

To provide a clearer picture, let’s consider a hypothetical trip from New York City to Los Angeles, a journey of approximately 2,800 miles.

Using a Tesla Model 3 (60 kWh battery, 300-mile range):

  • Total energy needed: Approximately 560 kWh (assuming 5 miles per kWh).
  • Cost at Tesla Superchargers: $0.25-$0.35 per kWh.
  • Total charging cost: $140-$196.

Using a Nissan Leaf (40 kWh battery, 150-mile range):

  • Total energy needed: Approximately 560 kWh (assuming 5 miles per kWh).
  • Cost at public DC fast chargers: $0.30-$0.60 per kWh.
  • Total charging cost: $168-$336.

Subscription Plans and Memberships

Some charging networks offer subscription plans that can reduce the cost of charging. For example:

  • Electrify America: Offers a Pass+ membership for $4 monthly, reducing the cost per kWh to as low as $0.31.
  • EVgo: Provides plans that offer lower rates and access to exclusive charging stations.

Additional Considerations

  1. Hotel and Destination Chargers: Many hotels offer free Level 2 charging for guests, which can significantly reduce costs if you plan overnight stops accordingly.
  2. Free Charging Stations: Some public locations and workplaces offer free charging, though availability and access might be limited.

Charging an electric car when traveling across the country can be relatively inexpensive compared to refueling a gasoline vehicle. The total cost depends on several factors, including the type of charging stations used and the pricing models of different networks. On average, you can expect to spend between $140 and $336 for a coast-to-coast trip in the United States, depending on your vehicle and charging choices. With the growing availability of charging stations and the potential savings through membership plans, cross-country travel in an EV is becoming more accessible and cost-effective. Proper planning and utilizing available resources can help make your journey smooth and economical.