Electric car charging costs
One of the many advantages of driving an electric vehicle is that running costs are low, because you’re not paying for expensive petrol or diesel. But how much exactly does it cost to top up your EV’s battery?
Recent research into the running costs of electric cars suggests that a driver who charges at home and covers 9,000 miles a year will spend £500-580 in a small car, £525-730 in a medium or large car, and £670-830 for larger SUVs and performance EVs.
There are numerous variables involved in calculating the cost of running an EV, from the weight of the car to the heaviness of your right foot, but we can give you a few ballpark examples.
How much will it cost to charge my electric car at home?
The easiest and cheapest way of charging an EV is to plug it in at home, which means that you’ll see the cost of charging your car reflected in your electricity bill.
The cost of domestic electricity varies, depending on which tariff you’re signed up to, but you should be able to fully charge your car for about £7. Of course, you won’t always be filling your car up completely: you’ll probably often give it a cheeky top-up between trips.
Plus the latest wallbox chargers – which you can get a government grant for, to help with the cost of installation – have smart features that allow you to control when you charge, via smartphone app. This means you can schedule it to charge when the cost of electricity is lowest (usually overnight, when many people’s cars are idle anyway).
Do I have to pay for charging my EV at work?
If you work at an office, factory, depot or campus, your employer might have already installed chargers, or is thinking of doing so. They might need to, in order to charge any electric fleet vehicles, but they might also do it as part of its sustainability policy
Either way, if you can plug in somewhere in the company car park and not have to pay for it, you’ll be quids in. You won’t even be taxed for it: HMRC doesn’t consider electricity to be a vehicle fuel, so you won’t have pay Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax on any free charging.
Even if your employer does charge for electricity, it’s often discounted, so charging will be even cheaper than at home.
How much do public EV chargers cost?
The cost of public chargers ranges from around 30p per kWh to 70p per kWh, depending on which type you use. Lower-speed 7kW units are at the bottom end of that price range, while the latest 350kW chargers are the most expensive.
Residential on-street chargers tend to be the 7kW AC units, or 5.5kW lamppost chargers (you also have to buy a special cable that connects) and they cost around 30p per kW, so expect to pay £15-20 for a fullish charge. Not as cheap as at home, but less than a tank of petrol or diesel.
The 50kW chargers at service stations don’t cost a great deal more – around 35p per kW – and they’re a lost faster. You can get a decent top-up in 30 minutes, again for about £15-20.
If you need a lot of charge in a short space of time, the latest ultra-rapid chargers can boast up to 350kW, but the providers usually charge a premium for this convenience. You can pay up to 70p per kW, so a full charge could cost £50, when it starts getting perilously close to the cost of a tank of fossil fuel. These faster chargers – and don’t be surprised to see even faster chargers in the next few years – are relatively expensive and not sustainable as the sole way of charging, but for occasional top-ups on longer trips, they do the job.
Can I charge my EV for free?
At the other end of the scale, it is possible to find public chargers that are free to use. If you stay at a hotel, you can often get free electricity. The same is true for a growing number of shopping centres and supermarkets, where it’s possible to top up while you shop.
In fact, studies have shown that if a customer is charging their car outside a shop, they tend to stay in the shop for longer and buy more, which makes it worthwhile for the shop to offer free charging.
You’re unlikely to be able to sponge off free power from supermarkets as a long-term charging solution, but if you usually charge at home, every little helps.