One of the biggest complaints of people who don’t own electric vehicles is that it takes too long to recharge, at least compared to filling up a combustion car at the gas station.

Depending on what car we’re talking about, that could be more or less true, but as EV enthusiasts know, if you plan your route ahead of time, you should be fine, even on a long road trip. However, this way of doing things might soon be a thing of the past, as Chinese-based BYD and CATL are reportedly working on lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries that can–at least in theory–be completely recharged in just 10 minutes.

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Battery tech is advancing faster than ever

The past few years have brought immense advancements in battery tech that allow modern EVs to cover longer distances and recharge faster than their predecessors. But the industry isn't done yet, as China's BYD and CATL are trying to prove with their upcoming ultra-fast-charging batteries.

According to local Chinese media quoted by CarNewsChina, both companies will debut their ultra-fast-charging LFP batteries by the end of this year, potentially making long charging stops unnecessary. 

It all comes down to the 6C charging rate that both the BYD Blade 2.0 and the CATL Qilin 2.0 battery packs have in common. In simple terms, the “6” in “6C” means that the charging multiplier is six times higher than the battery capacity. So, if we have, for example, a 100-amp-hour battery, it can be charged with a 600-amp current. But you can probably already spot the issue that comes associated with such a high charging rate.

The infrastructure to support these charging speeds has to be updated. Otherwise, the owners of cars fitted with such high-tech batteries won’t be able to reap the benefits of their EVs and will instead be stuck with lower charging speeds. 

Furthermore, it’s a known fact that batteries can’t maintain the peak charging speed from empty to full, so expect to see some clever marketing framing around the new batteries, like a 10% to 80% time of 10 minutes, or something similar. For instance, the updated Zeekr 001, which has a 5C-capable battery, can be recharged from 10% to 80% in 11.5 minutes.

2024 Zeekr 001

The 2024 Zeekr 001 can recharge from 10% to 80% state of charge in under 12 minutes, thanks to its 5C-capable battery.

We don’t have specific details about the upcoming 6C batteries from BYD and CATL, but we know from Chinese media that DC fast chargers that are made for 4C-rated batteries–that’s four times the charging speed versus the capacity–can reach a maximum power of 480 kW and a maximum current of 615A. To achieve even faster charging, either the voltage or the amp rating (or both) would have to be higher, which isn’t impossible to achieve, but getting such a high-rated utility connection for thousands of DC fast chargers would take serious financial investment.

But we’re getting there, albeit slowly. In China, Huawei deployed its first 600 kW fast chargers at the beginning of the year, and Li Auto, the maker of the Mega minivan that is capable of gaining 310 miles of range in 10 minutes of charging, said it would install 5,000 5C-capable fast chargers by next year.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s Supercharger network–the biggest DC fast charging network in the United States–can provide up to 250 kW of power from its V3 stalls. That’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a lot of room to grow, as other providers in the U.S. have proved. Electrify America has stalls that are capable of delivering up to 350 kW, while Gravity Charging’s hub in New York can provide up to 500 kW to each connected EV.

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