EVs Don’t Rely Solely on Their Own Efficiency: Onboard Chargers Also Count

Onboard Charger 7 photos
Photo: Kostal
BorgWarner Onboard ChargerKostal Onboard ChargerLG Onboard ChargerTesla Onboard ChargerTesla Onboard ChargerVolvo Onboard Charger
The combustion engine was about to disappear not only because oil is a finite raw material. The fact that the best ones still lose 60% of the energy they receive through fuel also makes them incredibly inefficient machines. Since the very beginning of personal transportation, EVs were the way to go, but they lacked electronics and better batteries. They returned when they got these requirements and are pretty efficient vehicles with a peculiarity. Unlike ICE cars, they do not get all the energy a power plug delivers, which affects how efficient they really are. Onboard chargers play a major role here.
Marius Valle brought that to our attention in an excellent article published by on November 27, 2020. A little less than nine months later, we got the chance to read it and share the idea with our readers here at autoevolution in a language that may be easier to understand – at least more people speak English than Norwegian.

What Valle warned about is that EVs are subject to losses while charging. Not all of the electricity that flows into a car is converted into a battery pack charge. Part of it turns into heat. That’s an advantage of combustion-engined vehicles: all the fuel they get from the pump is still available. In other words, there are no losses with refueling. Losses happen when the ICE burns that fuel for nothing, considering the average efficiency – 60% is just for the most efficient mills around.

That said, people who are really concerned about how efficient their EVs are should also pay attention to how efficient their onboard chargers are. If they lose too much electricity to heat, that will also penalize the cost per kilometer (or mile) people will have with charging.

Valle presents some interesting numbers in his article. According to them, the VW e-Golf (90.13%), Kia Soul 64 kWh (90.12%), Hyundai Kona (89.9%), and Audi e-tron 55 (89.8%) have some of the most efficient onboard chargers available. In the e-tron’s case, that does not mean much because it is also one of the EVs that spend more energy on driving, followed by the Mercedes-Benz EQC.

When you check the numbers for the least efficient chargers, the worst one is that of the BMW i3 120 A, with 80.39%. Surprisingly, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD is the second-worst, with an onboard charger that is just 80.62% efficient, followed closely by the Nissan Leaf e+, with 80.7%. Ironically, the list states that the Tesla is the second-best for energy consumption, losing only to the BMW i3 in terms of efficiency.

For EV buyers, that is a precious tip. Keep an eye not only on how frugal the electric car you want is, but also on how much the onboard charger helps it save energy and some bucks as well.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
Gustavo Henrique Ruffo profile photo

Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories