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Where, how long, how expensive? The big picture for charging electric cars

In Switzerland, an individual wall box is the most common way of charging an electric car. However, not all electric car drivers have access to one. This offers an overview of the charging options available to the general public.

 

It is the most important topic to consider alongside purchasing, leasing or subscribing to an electric car: charging. For many, ‘refuelling’ generation E is still uncharted territory, because it is a very new field. But rest assured: it only takes a few times for the charging process to become second nature, just like refuelling with petrol was – or charging a phone. The important elements to note are listed below.

Where can charging stations be found?

Switzerland’s public charging structure is constantly being expanded, and there are already several thousand charging stations for electric cars. You can find charging stations in your area online using the Charging Station Finder. Charging stations can for example be found in shopping centres, public parking areas, car parks, excursion destinations and motorway service stations. AMAG is also investing heavily in its own charging infrastructure: charging facilities are now available at all locations, with 50kW-capacity rapid chargers at twelve locations. 

How does charging work?

When it comes to charging electric cars, a key concept is AC/DC, a word that may be familiar to many thanks to the rock band of the same name. AC stands for alternating current and DC for direct current. DC is important for electric vehicles: energy stored in batteries is available as direct current. However, since sockets supply alternating current, the electricity must first be converted for an electric vehicle. When using a wall box at home, this is done via the AC/DC converter installed in the vehicle; when using a public charging station, this is already done at the ‘fuel pump’. As far as connectors are concerned, a Type 2 connector is standard in Europe for AC charging, while a CCS connector is standard for DC charging.

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How long does charging take?

With private charging, the car is charged from the wall box at a charging capacity of up to 22 kW overnight, so for 4 to 8 hours. At a shopping centre, charging generally takes around the same amount of time as a longer shopping session. The same applies for other public AC charging stations at up to 43 kW. The process is quickest with DC quick charging stations at 50 to 150 kW, found at service stations: with 150 kW, the car will be ready again after a 20 to 30 minute toilet or coffee break.

How expensive is electricity?

Slow charging from a private wall box can be conveniently performed overnight and is easy on your wallet as it uses low-tariff electricity. If you have a private photovoltaic system installed, electricity will be even cheaper, as it is not affected by the electricity price. Public chargers can differ significantly. As a customer at a shopping centre you can sometimes charge your electric vehicle for free. In general, a full charge will cost around 12 to 20 Swiss francs at a peak rate and around 10 francs at a low rate. At quick charging stations, the price for a kWh is generally higher. You can pay with a credit card, but the more common and most recommended option is to pay via a provider’s charging card or via its app (see the next point).

Become a member of a charging network

Charging is easiest if you are a member of a charging network. This has the benefit that you do not have to give payment another thought – as mentioned, it is all billed via the credit card, the charging card or app. In addition, being a member of one of these networks comes with certain benefits. Switzerland has various charging networks offering several thousand charging stations. When choosing a provider, make sure that they have sufficient coverage in your region – and that you choose the billing format that suits you best. It is also important that the chosen network allows you to use other locations – like roaming with a mobile phone network. And one factor that is important for sustainable driving: all charging networks offer the option of using green electricity.

AMAG brands with their own charging networks

As a driver of an electric car from one of the AMAG brands Audi, CUPRA, SEAT, ŠKODA and VW, you also have the option of becoming a member of the brand’s charging network.

●   Audi has its e-tron Charging Service with more than 240,000 charging points across Europe. Charging is easy via the charging card and myAudi app, with payment made monthly. The app also offers information about where the next charging stations are located.

●   SEAT drivers, as well as CUPRA, ŠKODA and VW customers, can access the Elli charging network, which offers just under 6,500 charging points in Switzerland alone, and 200,000 across Europe. The system works using a charging card and an app.

●   ŠKODA offers the Powerpass. With the Powerpass card, drivers of models such as the ENYAQ iV or similar have access to most public charging stations and can therefore charge their vehicles virtually anywhere. Charging data and payments can be viewed at a glance in the app.

●   VW launched the We Charge charging system. This covers around 6,500 charging points in Switzerland (including 500 DC quick charging stations), and more than 200,000 charging options across Europe. All of this takes place via a charging card and the We Connect ID. app.

 

Install a wall box

Of course, the most convenient option is to have a private charging facility. Wall boxes can be installed by both home owners and renters – the latter will need their landlord's consent. Around 80% of charging processes in Switzerland take place at private (or company-owned) charging stations like these. The AMAG home charging station costs around 1600 Swiss francs (not including installation).

 

Test drive an electric car

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