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How to Charge an Electric Car


Charging an electric vehicle

Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by batteries that provide energy to electric motors, driving motion to the wheels. Keeping the battery charged is key to keeping the vehicle moving and is just as easy as filling up on fuel in a petrol or diesel-powered car.

We’re here to explain all you need to know about charging an electric vehicle: step-by-step instructions, where to charge, how long it takes to charge and how far a charge lasts. We’ll also cover the different charging station output levels, the average cost of charging an EV and how to monitor your charge status.


How does charging work?

Charging occurs by connecting the EV to a mains source, known as a charging station. Once connected to the charging station, EVs use their charging port and onboard charger to convert the external power into battery charge. While all-electric cars (BEVs), such as Model 3, must be repowered at a charging station, hybrid vehicles can be recharged at a charging station or refueled at a petrol station.

Charging Levels

EVs are able to charge at three different levels of power output:

AC Slow (2-3kW)

Domestic sockets and some lower powered wall boxes deliver slow charging. Every hour charging adds about 6-8 miles. These are to be used when you will be at a destination for a many hours, e.g. overnight.

AC Fast (7-22kW)

Some domestic wall boxes and many public charging stations deliver fast charging. On an 11kW charger, every hour charging adds about 35-40 miles. These are useful if you are stopping for a few hours, e.g. for a meeting or dinner.

DC Rapid (50kW+)

Rapid chargers are found at public charging stations and deliver the fastest way of charging the car. On a 100kW charger, every hour charging can add up to 300-400 miles (depending on vehicle). These are useful for a quick re-charging stop while travelling to your destination.

Regenerative Braking

EV batteries also receive power through a process called regenerative (regen) braking. Regen braking uses torque to slow the car, recapturing energy that is normally lost in non-electric cars by using an inverter to invert energy from the brakes.

While regen braking does improve the battery charge, it is not the primary source of recharging for all-electric vehicles (BEVs). For maximum performance, a charging station is required to repower the battery.

How do I charge an electric vehicle?

Recharging an EV is just like filling up with gas, but rather than inserting a nozzle at a petrol station, you insert a connector at a charging station. Use the following steps to charge a Model 3:

  • Open the charge port cover via the touchscreen or by pushing on the cover.
  • Remove charging station connector from dock and insert into the car’s charge port. While charging, the charge port logo will flash green.
  • The touchscreen will inform you of charge percentage and estimated time remaining. We recommend charging to 80%.
  • When complete, press the connector button until the logo turns white, remove from car and return to dock.

The Model 3 is compatible with all EV charging stations and each of our Model 3 hire cars comes equipped with a Type 2 Cable, that can be attached to the charging point.

The future of car rental

Rent electric


Where can I charge the car?

As well as charging at home, public and private charging stations provide you with a place to recharge and restart your journey. There are currently over 500,000 Shell Recharge stations found across Europe – our approved network of charging stations. You’ll also find more than 10,000 Tesla Supercharger stations, which can be found via the touchscreen in your vehicle.

Requiring only limited space, EV charging stations can exist in similar locations to gas stations, such as off the highway or even at gas stations, and in locations not suitable for gas stations. Such locations include public parking garages, office and retail parking lots and even busy downtown streets.

There are a variety of ways to locate public charging stations. In Model 3, Tesla Supercharger stations appear as red pins on the navigation screen. You can also touch the lightning bolt on the touchscreen or ask for location options via voice command.

Apps, such as Shell Recharge, available as well, to pinpoint your nearest charging location.


How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Electric car charging times vary depending on the size of the battery and the charging station output. The vehicle model affects the charge time as well, with manufacturers like Tesla and others having different models that offer varying charge periods.

However, if you know the power output level of a charging station, you will know whether to expect a slower or faster charging experience. When available, we encourage you to select charging stations in the following order:

  • Tesla Superchargers: Add up to 200 miles in only 15 minutes
  • Rapid chargers: Ideal for longer journeys requiring short stops
  • Fast: Achieve a partial to complete charge in 5-8 hours
  • Slow: Convenient for home or local-driving use, not for long trips


How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Charging an EV at home has been found to be the most affordable and common option, with owners typically doing 80% of charging at home. The average EV-owning UK household pays 17p per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy used to charge, adding on an average of £9.20 every time an EV is fully charged.

While you’re likely not home while hiring a car, our Model 3 hire vehicles include a Type 2 Cable, which enables you to connect the car to a standard household outlet, should one be available during your trip. Additionally, the home charging savings are worth noting when comparing refueling costs of petrol or diesel-powered cars.

So how much does it cost to charge an EV at a public charging station? In short, it varies, but is always more affordable – and greener – than filling up with petrol. Although free public charging stations do exist, most stations charge a fee based on kWh usage, charging time or percentage of battery charged.

Shell Recharge are an example of a network of charging stations that provide affordable rates. If you charge at a Tesla station or use a Shell Recharge key fob, we’ll pass through charging-related fees to the credit card you used to rent your electric vehicle.

Other charging stations are available and charging station provider will charge you for their use directly. Just as home charging rates vary, rates at public charging stations can vary – even within the same city.

No matter the distance of your journey, charging an EV is sure to provide cost savings compared with fuelling a petrol or diesel-powered car.


How far can an electric car go on one charge?

Electric cars are capable of reaching different driving ranges, depending on:

  • Make and model
  • Size of the battery
  • How much the battery is charged

Most EVs easily travel over 200 miles on a full charge, with select Tesla models reaching beyond that. With electric vehicle technology advancing all the time, these ranges are estimated to increase over the coming years.

Just like a car powered by petrol or diesel, weather conditions and the style in which you drive an electric car will affect how much power the car has. For example, harsh braking uses more energy, whether a car operates by fuel or electric. Exercising safe driving practices will stop the car from wasting vital energy that could get it further down the road.

Likewise, things like using up other power-draining instruments and accessories onboard can deplete the battery. This includes entertainment systems, lighting and air conditioning.

Although unlikely to occur if you are monitoring your charge, as Model 3 detects a low charge, it provides plentiful alerts and warnings, as well as suggested nearby charging station locations via pop-up notifications.

Monitoring your Model 3 charge can be done in multiple ways. Displayed in a prominent location on the touchscreen, the battery meter reflects the charge remaining with numerical percentage, a status bar and color changes (green to yellow to red), and the battery range displays estimated miles remaining. Using Model 3’s voice command technology, you can also ask your car for an update on its battery charge.

Ready to recharge and rethink the way you drive? Learn more about EVs by visiting our electric car hub for more information.

Charging an electric vehicle

Touchscreen | Driving Information

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Regenerative Braking

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Plugging In

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.