Charging an electric car

Rapidly rising electric vehicle charging costs outpaced by petrol prices

Image credit: Dreamstime

The average cost of charging an electric car has soared by more than a fifth as electricity prices rise amid global turmoil in the energy markets.

According to RAC analysis, the average price of charging an electric car on a pay-as-you go, publicly accessible rapid charger in Great Britain has increased by 21 per cent to 44.55p per kilowatt-hour (kWh) since September.

The 7.81p per kWh increase, from 36.74p at the end of last summer, means that the average cost to complete an 80 per cent rapid charge of a typical family-sized electric car with a 64kWh battery has increased by £4 over this period, from £18.81 to £22.81.

However, the cost of filling a 55-litre family car from empty to 80 per cent has increased even more over the same timespan by £14.54 since last September, from £59.67 to £74.21.

The analysis finds that the cost of topping up electrically-powered vehicles is still nearly half the cost per mile compared to filling a petrol-powered family car.

The average price of charging at the quickest ultra-rapid chargers – which have a power output of 100kW-plus and can deliver a charge to a compatible vehicle in as little as 20 minutes – has increased by a greater margin of 16.76p per kWh, from 34.21p per kWh in September to 50.97p in May.

This means the cost to charge a vehicle to 80 per cent has risen from £17.51 to £26.10. This is still £48 cheaper than filling a petrol-powered car to 80 per cent, although electric car drivers do not get quite as many miles from an 80 per cent charge as drivers of petrol cars do from an equivalent fill-up of a tank.

The price increases are due to the rapid rises in the wholesale cost of electricity, which has driven up due to hikes in the cost of gas. Between the end of September 2021 and the end of March this year, gas prices have doubled while electricity has risen by around 65 per cent over the same period.

After immense public pressure, Chancellor Rishi Sunak finally announced a windfall tax on oil firms yesterday in order to provide some discounts on people’s energy bills this coming winter.

The RAC is currently backing the FairCharge campaign which is calling for the 20 per cent VAT rate currently charged on electricity at public chargers to be cut to match the 5 per cent levied on domestic electricity.

The RAC’s electric vehicle spokesperson, Simon Williams, described the current tax regime at public chargers as “bizarre”. He added: “Just as the price that drivers of petrol and diesel cars pay to fill up at the pumps is driven by fluctuations in the world oil price, those in electric cars are affected by gas and electricity prices.

“But while electric car drivers may not be immune from the rocketing price of wholesale energy – most notably gas, which in turn dictates the cost of electricity – there’s no doubting that charging an EV still represents excellent value for money compared to filling up a petrol or diesel car.”

Quentin Willson, founder of the FairCharge campaign, said: “Keeping a watch on charging prices is essential to make sure the electricity for charging up EVs never gets close to the cost of filling up with diesel. EV drivers need free-to-access data on charging prices across the country. And charging operators need to know that everybody is watching.”

In March, a trade body raised concerns that the government’s EV strategy could jeopardise the quality and safety of chargepoint installations. 

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