plug-in electric car

Rapid chargers costing EV drivers more per mile than a petrol car

Image credit: Volkswagen

It currently costs electric car drivers on long journeys more to top up their vehicles than people driving petrol cars, RAC analysis has found.

One of the most attractive benefits of electric vehicles for consumers is their cheap cost to run compared to traditional vehicles. But soaring energy prices have pushed up the price of rapid-charging an electric car by 50 per cent in just eight months.

The fastest ultra-rapid chargers, which have power outputs of over 100kW, can charge many cars in a matter of minutes, making them ideal for topping up on longer journeys.

It now costs an average of 70.32p per kilowatt-hour to rapid-charge on a pay-as-you-go basis, up from 44.55p (58 per cent) last May and from 63.29p (11 per cent) last September.

The rises mean that drivers now pay £36 to charge a typical family-sized electric car with a 64kWh battery to its 80 per cent rapid or ultra-rapid limit – enough to cover around 188 miles.

Nevertheless, the analysis also found that those who do most of their charging at home still get great value compared to petrol drivers. The cost of charging the same car at home comes in at just £17.87 – despite the record high domestic energy prices.

The RAC analysis also found that drivers using rapid chargers now pay 20p per mile for their electricity, only a penny less than those using less common ultra-rapid chargers who pay 21p per mile.

These costs are higher than the equivalent per-mile rate for a petrol car that achieves an economy of 40 miles to the gallon (17p per mile) and are on a par with a diesel car achieving the same economy (20p per mile).

The RAC and campaign group FairCharge expressed concerns that the high cost risks dissuading drivers from opting for electric vehicles over keeping their existing petrol and diesel vehicles, especially considering the current cost-of-living crisis.

They have reiterated their call for the government to cut the VAT rate charged on electricity bought at public EV chargers from 20 to 5 per cent, mirroring the rate domestic energy users pay.

Doing so would see the cost of rapid charging falling by 8.79p per kilowatt-hour (to 61.53p) and ultra-rapid charging by 9.35p (to 65.44p).

RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams said: “For drivers to switch to electric cars en masse, it’s vital that the numbers stack up. In time, the list price of new electric models will come down but charging quickly has also got to be as affordable as possible.

“It continues to be the case that those who can charge at home or at work and who don’t use the public rapid charging network very often get fantastic value – even given the relatively high domestic energy prices right now.

“Sadly, the same can’t be said for people who either can’t charge at home or at work, or who regularly make longer journeys beyond the range of their cars. There’s no question they have to pay far more, and in some cases more than petrol or diesel drivers do to fill up on a mile-for-mile basis.

“As last week’s new car registration figures showed, the demand for EVs is clearly there but it’s vital this is sustained. Our concern is that the extremely high energy prices, which are already making people’s domestic energy bills so high, have the effect of putting people off using public EV chargers of all speeds altogether – something the government must avoid if it expects chargepoint operators themselves to do the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to installing more EV charging infrastructure.”

Figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show battery- electric new cars took a market share of 16.6 per cent in 2022, surpassing diesel for the first time to become the second most popular powertrain after petrol.

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