EV vs ICE fuel time


Like so many new technologies, there are more paradigm shifts to cross than the technologies themselves.

As any EV owner knows your day begins and ends with the plugging and unplugging of your EV which seems to somehow annoy the ICE driver who sees it as a cumbersome task. So I thought I would take the industrial engineering approach and break it down.

EV:  You have to enter and exit your vehicle at the end of each day so that is  excluded from the laborious task of plugging in. The time begins with removing the charge cable, placing in a holder and closing the cover on the charge compartment. The return action begins with pressing a button or unlatching a lever, removing the charge cable from the holder and plugging in. Each action will take 5-15 seconds. A week would equate to approximately 1-3 minutes.



ICE: With a little bad luck you will waste the 1-3 minutes waiting at the light to make your turn into the gas station or waiting your turn at the pump, but there is no practical way to measure that so we will omit, as long as we “admit” we have been there. We will start with the navigation into the gas station 5-15 seconds, turn off and exit the vehicle 5 seconds, retrieving gas card, swiping and returning gas card for safety 5-15 seconds (or worse waiting in line to pay the attendant), answering the questions at the pump, zip code, type fuel, debit or credit, do you want a car wash with that? 5 -15 seconds, checking for the ever popular card readers, filling 10 – 15 gallons 2 minutes (this varies), return to your vehicle and start vehicle 5-15 seconds, exit the gas station and hope you did not miss the light again 5-15 seconds.

So many things can go wrong on your way to the pump yet we have accepted it as a way of life. From inclement weather pumping in the rain, snow etc. Worrying about the ever growing credit card theft, and traffic. Hey, wait a minute! I am annoyed with filling my ICE! We have been perfecting the ICE for 100 years and this is where we are?


Chevrolet Volt With A Wireless Charging System

Chevrolet Volt With A Wireless Charging System

We have only begun to perfect the EV. The new surge of EVs is less than three years old now and already the need to plug in is being eliminated.

The basics behind cordless charging are fairly simple.  You drive your car into your garage, while lining up your car’s ‘hot spot’ over a charging mat, generally accompanied by a series of directional prompts.  You then exit your car and go about your day.  No more plugging your car in.  No more surprise moments the next day if you had forgotten to do so. Well even this will be outdated by 2014, the Infiniti LE will handle the task automatically with a single push of a button.


So for those arguing that refueling is a hassle we agree! The time along with pumping in the rain, being at risk for digital theft, and simply waiting for the pump to stop. The paradigm is that you have to wait for the electric car to charge when in fact it is just the opposite. Sorry for the smile as we drive past the pump.

An update to this article. Please take the time to read the blogs below from all over the globe, for they are truly as rich with information as the article itself. Thanks to all that posted.

Category: Charging, General

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30 responses to "EV vs ICE fuel time"
  1. kdawg says:

    Another way to explain it to people is ask them, “Would you rather plug your cell phone in each night, or drive to a cell phone fueling station each week to fill it up?”. Same situation as gas fueling. Standing outside, waiting in line, credit card, drip some on your car/hands, etc.

  2. Josh says:

    Great topic Mark. The example I use for people is I NEVER have to stop for fuel on my way to work. I am full everyday when I leave.

    Another good comparison is asking someone how long does a cell phone take to charge from 0% to 100%? Nobody cares because they are sleeping. The notion of needed to refill 90-100% is a legacy ICE issue since you can’t fill at home and you can’t leave the vehicle as it fills.

    One more, if you could put a gas pump in your garage, that filled your car while you sleep, and the fuel was 1/5 of the station, would you want it?

    My one point of disagreement, I have no desire for wireless charging. Plugging the car in is so easy, I don’t want to pay the 5% tax (in inefficiency) for the “wireless convenience”. I also want my friends and family to easily use my EVSE (J1772) if they are at my house.

    1. Mark Hovis says:

      I agree with you on the wireless Josh. I put it out there because the technology is there. For me I have no problem with the chord. Thanks guys for helping Sarah with her upcoming argument!

      1. kdawg says:

        It’s not that you “don’t have a problem” with it, but the fact that something better is available. I’m sure most people would have “no problem” plugging their laptops into hard-line connection, but if there’s wireless available, why would you? I could give 100 examples. In Michigan it’s cold & snowy. I’d rather not deal w/a cold, wet, cable (and remembering to shut my port door). I’d like to get in my car and drive away. Again, wireless charging is not required, but it’s a great perk to driving an EV. You can’t remotely fuel your gas car. Not to forget public chargers & vandalism… when the charger is buried under concrete, it’s hard to vandalize.

        I won’t speculate on wireless freeway charging or charging at stoplights/drivethroughs/carwashes/etc.

        1. Mark H says:

          Well said kdawg. Even though I am old school with the plug, I could not have ended the article without pointing to this emerging technology, especially since part of the argument was the hassle of plugging in.

          Most of my post have to do with debunking EV myths. I had supplied my daughter with a lot of information on other topics until she handed me this one. It wound me up enough to unleash it in an article. The clear examples that everyone posted will more than arm her for her debate. We all are fascinated by the technologies as well as watching the numbers slowly increase as awareness and acceptance spread. Our part is to aid the awareness through understanding and we consider it our part in the revolution.
          Thanks again for your clarity kdawg

        2. Josh says:


          I definitely see the value in wireless charging. Especially when the software tech for driverless operation gets mature (Google, Nissan auto-valet). It would make it much easier for cars to go recharge themselves if the didn’t have to physically plug in.

          At this stage though I am still explaining people “yes, there is nowhere to put gas in this car.”

  3. Stoaty says:

    With my ICE vehicle, I have had several times a year when I was late starting to work and realized I didn’t have enough gas to make it. Had to drive out of my way to get to a gas station, and take even longer to get to work. The only time I had a problem with my Leaf was when I was sick and thus forgot to plug it in the night before. Had to take the backup ICE vehicle, which had enough gas fortunately. Far prefer to start out with a “full tank” each day (or however much I think I will need for the day). Haven’t ever run out of electrons after 20 months of Leaf ownership.

  4. Brian says:

    The typical counter-arguments revolve around the road trip scenario. Most people go beyond 100 miles at least occasionally. The key again is being able to leave your car while it charges. In the Tesla example, after 250 miles, you need to stop for 45 minutes to an hour. Most people will stop anyway for a meal after 250 miles. Yes, it’s a minor inconvenience, but given that the other 95% of the time is spent charging as you describe, I’ll take it! I’m guessing most would agree.

  5. Open-Mind says:

    Couple more points related to refueling … it is likely that an EV’s electricity is made entirely from domestic (often renewable) sources of energy. That’s probably not the case for gasoline.

    Also in most places, electricity for EV charging has no equivalent to a gasoline tax (yet).

    1. Mark Hovis says:

      That’s another story that REALLY needs to be written including the cost of electricity for refining gas.

  6. vdiv says:

    I was talking to someone very recently about this same “predicament”. I also added the selecting Credit or Debit , and answering the “Enter your ZIP code” prompt if one could even see them against the sun glare or with the LCD panel back-light not working, selecting NO I do not have a gas club card, NO I do not want a car wash, NO I do not care about “two packs of soda for a buck”, waiting to authenticate, selecting the fuel grade, if I could even figure out how to start the pump since almost every station is different, plugging in the nozzle and waiting at least 5 seconds for the pressure to equalize, fueling up on the first (slower) notch (if it is even there) to prevent the pump’s vapor recovery system from jipping me off while listening to deafening commercials blaring from a stupid heavily armored TV screen, then selecting YES to print a receipt, waiting for the receipt, realizing the thermal printer is busted or out of paper, locking my car, walking to the attendant’s booth or “inconvenience” store, waiting in line, begging him for a receipt on pump #13, walking back only to find out that my car is blocked by some wacko yacking on their so important cell phone or utterly missing in action, then getting in the car to write down the odometer mileage on the receipt and realizing that since it was printed at an angle I have to fill out the price and amount of gas and the total while craning my neck to see the numbers on that same sun-blinded or pitch-black LCD panel.

    And doing this every freaking week, sometimes twice, usually at the end of the day, while exhausted, when the only thing that I want is to get home and take a breather.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      vdiv, that particular EV1 commercial was back when GM didn’t want to make them. They never even showed more that a portion of the car, and the whole thing looks & sounds like something out of Solyent Green.

      1. vdiv says:

        Hi Bill,

        Call me weird, but I actually like this commercial a lot. Maybe not as a car commercial or its visuals, but it reflects the sentiment, the a-ha! moment, the transformation that people experience when they get an EV.

        As far as GM not wanting to make the EV1, big portions of the company and its dealership network still do not want to make or deal with the Volt either. The more things seem to change the more we see that they are really the same.

  7. Stuart22 says:

    So many of the benefits deal with the quality of life, and thus lack statistical backup that true appreciation of these benefits, in the absence of imagination and an open mind, can only come with actual experience.

    To list a few…

    Freedom from worrying about price hikes in gasoline. I don’t even know what price gas costs as I’m writing this.

    Quiet relaxation at the wheel.

    Instant response allowing one to quietly jet through yellow lights without a ba-a-ah-ROOOOM!! noise to draw attention from anyone

    1. Mark Hovis says:

      lol I was discussing torque the other day Stuart when I stopped myself and described it just like you did. I stopped with the numbers and said, ” Alright, with the ICE you have ba-a-ah-ROOOOM!!! and realize that by the time you reach peak rpm, the EV has already passed you.” Thanks for posting. Sarah, you gettin all of these?!

  8. David Murray says:

    I agree that charging is much more convenient than pumping, assuming your EV is parked in a garage every night. I like the comment Josh made about charging a cell phone. Most people bave no idea how long it takes and usually the phone is not empty when you plug it in anyway. People always hear the worst case charging times (zero to full) and think that is what it will always take. People can’t grasp that you would not normally be charging from zero AND it is not required to charge it all of thr way before driving again.

  9. Peder Norby says:

    Mark, great post.

    This may help, I equate the pump with the laundromat.

    1. Mark H says:

      That one was great Peder!

  10. Martin T says:

    It’s really been just automatic for me now to plug / unplug, the charge mat would be nice for my Volt, but if that would cause electricity transfer inefficiencies I ‘d still prefer to plug.

    I just don’t see the issue with plug-in routine even top up on weekends on “SUNSHINE POWER” and good to go another 72 km with EV in my case.

    The only time I get a tad worried if there is a bad thunderstorm – so far once I unplugged it and switch the charger off at the CB, small price to pay for all he benefits!

    So far close on 1900Km over two months and still over half the original tank of fuel that came with the car, may have to take it on a few more extended trips to get mine to 1/3 I’m aiming for.

    Love the Volt how sharp it is in traffic in L gear with just using the accelerator pedal – when you need it I’m still so impressed.

    Everyone I’ve had in the car are impressed – but it still needs a mind shift on the populations part – who appear to be very slow in picking up the many benefits of plug in EV’s !

  11. Bonaire says:

    The argument today is gassing time versus plugging time.

    Sarah, ask your friends what their future grandchildren will be using for fuel in their cars. Gasoline? I believe gas will be rarely used for our cars in 50 years. Only for planes and heavy trucks.

  12. Phillip says:

    After 6 months with my LEAF I have to agree. Pumping petrol seems to be an absolute mundane and pointless task. Even here in Australia where there’s no charge stations an electric car makes sense.

    Even though my garage can not house my electric car, I have to unlock the roller door, lift it up, plug in the car, pull the door down on top of the cable and then lock it again. This takes at least 30 seconds. Small price to pay when our petrol costs $6.70 a gallon.

    My work car is a big “powerful” V8 sedan. But ever since getting the LEAF, the work car now feels outdated, old, gutless dinosaur. Automatic gear box takes what seems an eternity to eventually apply power to the wheels! Drinks 11L/100km and is slow from the lights. Many times I’ve been late for an appointment because I had to fill it up. Even though the petrol station is only 5km out of my way, that’s 5km in the WRONG direction, 5 minutes waiting in line. 5 minutes filling up. 4 minutes going inside and waiting to pay. Then 5 minutes to drive that 5km back where I started from. So it’s really about 20 minutes to fill up.

  13. Eric Cote says:

    Great write-up, Mark! It is a good point that, more often than not, plugging in the car is much simpler and convenient than gassing up. Once people realize that, they’re usually hooked!

  14. Here’s a page that Sarah could pass along to those petrolpuppet colleagues. It includes a section that factually compares a Nissan LEAF with a Nissan Versa hatchback, and echoes what you have explained about the latter’s supposedly “faster” refueling.


    1. Mark H says:

      Thanks Mark. This will add to her arguments. I have included an update to the end of the article to encourage readers to take the time to read the rich information provided by all.

  15. GeorgeS says:

    Mark H.

    This is a unique piece and a great little analysis that everyone can understand. Leave it to an IE to come up with something like this.

    Great Job!

  16. Jon says:

    I actually sell commercial EV charging stations (ChargePoint), so I’ll give you some of my other talking point as well, that people usually don’t even considering when discussing the ‘negatives’ of EV’s….the above posts have covered the ‘charging time’ topic pretty well….

    “EV’s are Expensive”, and you pay a premium for them.
    1) As mentioned, EV’s are only in their 3rd year of commercial development, as battery technology gets better, prices will drop. We’re already seeing the Leaf prices drop, as well as new models, like the Chevy Spark EV, will have lower prices (after rebates, the Spark will be around $25K). It also has 400ft lbs of torque!!!

    2) $97K may sound like a lot for the Tesla Model S, but it keeps up with $250,000 sports cars, seats 5 luxuriously and has TWO trunks. “expensive” is relative, and apples to apples, its quite affordable.

    3) EV’s have no oil to change, spark plugs, fan or timing belts, radiators to leak, valves to adjust/tune up, and the brakes easily go over 100,000 miles w/o a brake change due to regenerative braking. Since the batteries all now have 10yr/100K mile warranty, you need to factor in all those costs that you WON’T have with an EV when determining the ‘premium’. Plus, no only money saved, but your personal TIME saved with not getting the oil changed, etc, etc.

    4) More and more employers are putting EV chargers in at work and are allowing employees to charge for free as a perk/benefit. Depending on your commute, this can equate to a 5-10% pay increase for the employee, w/o the employer having to shell out that actually amount in cash.

    4a) EX: Employee spends $400/month commuting. Needs a new car and buys a Leaf because they can charge at work for free. Gas bill goes to $0. $400/month x 12 months = $4800 post tax. That’s about $7000 pre-tax. Assuming $70K/year salary, that equates to a 10% pay raise. BUT, the cost of actually charging the car is only $3/day (assuming .15/kWhr and 20kW charge). $15/week and assuming 49 weeks, that’s only $735 for the company. Pretty good RIO.

    now, you can play with those numbers and the scenarios, but it doesn’t take much to realize its a nice benefit for both employees and employers.

    1. Mark H says:

      Excellent info Jon! The main staff at InsideEVs are cutting edge with breaking news. I am a part time contributor that likes to focus on educating the next wave of EV adopters. I have an article here similar to your mindset.
      You can see my other post under the staff button. “Staff” is stretching it for me, but Jay knows I have too much time on my hands and says I occasionally articulate an idea worth reading. One thing this article has really showcased is the wealth of knowledge of this EV community. The contributors on this site are very serious and informative on a consistent basis.

  17. GeorgeS says:

    “So I thought I would take the industrial engineering approach and break it down:”

    That’s what made it such a good article!!!.

    1. Mark H says:

      Thanks George! I think we all had fun with it this week end. It is really such a minor issue in the big scheme of things but we all have encountered this one in one form or other. What surprised me the most is that it was still being quoted. I think that is probably what rang all of our bells! I am looking forward to the rebuttal now!

  18. MMcI says:

    Quick addition: That gas pump handle can be NASTY, and I don’t just mean the odorous petrol itself (which can be fragrant to a gearhead in the right mood), but all the grunge and grime from countless hands and bounces off slushy oily coffee spilled on ground. I know the public EVSEs will get similarly nasty as usage increases and time passes, but the one in my garage only has the dirt (and germs) that I (or my friends and family) put there (between cleanings). And wireless will make that even nicer.