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Why Can’t Electric Cars Charge Themselves While Driving?

Last updated Mar 30, 2023

Electric vehicles (EV) have been more and more popular because they are environmentally friendly and save money on fuel. However, many EV owners are always wondering whether electric cars can charge themselves while driving. It seems that it can work, but actually, it’s not possible due to the laws of thermodynamics and energy conservation.

In this article, I’ll explain the reasons why electric cars can’t charge themselves and discuss some alternative charging methods that may be used in addition to traditional charging.

How Electric Cars Are Charged

When you get your electric car, you need to charge it regularly, just like you need to fill up a gas-powered car. There are three major ways to charge an EV: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 (DC fast charging).

Level 1 Charging

You can charge your car by plugging a Level 1 charger into a standard 110- or 120-volt outlet, just like you do with your phone or laptop. However, the charging speed is the slowest, taking from 8 to 20 hours to fully charge your car, depending on the size of the battery and the charging rate.

When you park your car overnight at home or at work, you can use the Level 1 charger to charge it.

Level 2 Charging

You can also use a Level 2 charger to charge your car. You need to get a Level 2 EV charger and a 240-volt outlet, which is very similar to the one used for your electric dryer or stove.

You can use a Leve 2 public charging station or purchase and install one at home. It can take about 3–8 hours to fully charge your battery, depending on the size of the battery and the charging rate, of course.

DC Fast Charging

DC (Direct Current) fast charging, namely Level 3 charging, is the fastest charging method. You need to charge your car at public charging stations along highways or in urban areas. It can take as little as 30 minutes to charge your car from 0 to 80%.

You need to keep in mind that the charging time and cost will vary according to the size of the battery and the charging method you choose. You can use our charging time calculator and charging cost calculator to get your specific figures.

Besides, it’s important to plan your trip and consider the availability of charging stations before you hit the road.

Why Electric Cars Can’t Charge Themselves

One of the most common questions people mention about electric cars is why they can’t charge themselves while driving. Let’s discuss this.

Electric cars run on rechargeable batteries. You need to charge these batteries by an external power source (see the three charging methods aforementioned). When an EV is in motion, it uses the battery’s energy to power the motor. The battery is gradually depleted until you need to recharge it by using a charging station. This is a simple explanation of how electric cars work.

Then why can’t electric cars charge themselves while driving? We need to explain this based on the fundamental laws of thermodynamics and energy conservation. When an EV is in motion, it uses the energy of the battery to overcome friction and air resistance. Some of the battery’s energy turns into heat. However, this lost energy can’t be converted back into electric energy due to the laws of physics.

Even though it’s not possible for electric cars to charge themselves while driving, there are other technologies that are being developed to supplement traditional charging methods.

Regenative Braking

Regenerative braking systems can capture some of the energy lost during braking and use it to recharge the battery or power the electric motor.

When your EV equipped with regenerative braking is in motion, the electric motor acts as a generator and produces electrical energy when you step on the brake pedal. The energy is then stored in the battery for later use, which can increase your EV’s efficiency and driving range.

Regenerative braking systems are particularly effective in stop-and-go driving situations. Strictly speaking, this technology is just a method to supplement traditional charging methods, and EVs still can’t fully charge themselves while driving.

Solar Panels

Solar panels can also be installed on the roof of the EV to provide additional charging capabilities. But the amount of electricity generated by the solar panels may not be sufficient to power the vehicle on its own. The efficiency of the solar panels and the amount of sunlight available can also impact the amount of electricity generated.

Overall, these methods can offer additional charging capability. However, they are not powerful enough to fully charge the battery and are primarily used to supplement traditional charging methods.

It may seem like a great idea for electric cars to charge themselves while driving. It’s simply not possible due to the laws of physics. However, as technology continues to advance, we may see new methods of charging that are more efficient and sustainable than our current methods.

Alternatives to Traditional Charging Methods

While traditional charging methods are the most common way to charge an electric car, there are other alternatives that are being developed to help improve the charging experience for EV owners.

Wireless Charging

One such alternative is wireless charging. With wireless charging, you simply park your car over a charging pad, and the car wirelessly receives the power it needs. While this technology is still in its infancy, it has the potential to revolutionize the way we charge electric cars in the future.

Portable Chargers

Another alternative is portable chargers. Portable chargers can be used to charge your electric car when you don’t have access to a traditional charging station. These chargers are smaller and more compact than traditional charging stations, making them easier to carry around with you. They can be charged in advance and used to recharge your car’s battery when needed.

While electric car charging technology is still developing, these alternatives to traditional charging methods show that there is significant progress being made in the field. As the demand for electric cars continues to grow, it’s likely that we’ll see even more innovations in electric car charging technology in the coming years.


Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular due to their eco-friendliness and cost efficiency. However, one of the biggest challenges facing electric car owners is the need to charge the battery. While it may seem like a great idea for electric cars to charge themselves while driving, the laws of physics make this an impossible feat.

Despite this limitation, there are alternatives to traditional charging methods that are being developed, such as wireless charging, and portable chargers. These advancements in technology are making it easier for electric car owners to charge their vehicles on the go and reducing the overall time and effort required to keep an electric car charged.

As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more innovations in the field of electric car charging. While electric cars may not be able to charge themselves while driving, these advancements in charging technology are making electric cars a more practical and viable option for everyday use.