How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

February 10, 2021 by

One of the biggest advantages of making the switch over to an electric car is the inexpensive day-to-day running cost. That’s because it’s much cheaper to top up a battery than brim the fuel tank of an equivalent petrol or diesel car.

It’s also easier to work out roughly how much a fossil-fuelled car will cost to fill up, based on how much your local petrol station is charging, whereas it can be a little more complicated to suss out your cost to charge an electric car. That’s where we come in; if you’re unsure how much it might cost you to run an EV, this helpful guide will have you covered.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home?

To effectively charge your electric car at home, you will have to outlay the costs of a wallbox charger — but the long-term pay-off will be worth it if you’re making the switch to electric for good.

One option is to buy a wallbox through a specialist firm, with prices varying from £400 and approaching £1,500 depending on the power output of the charger. You’ll face installation fees on top of that.

If you’re buying a new electric car, though, you may be able to get a wallbox cheaper from the car manufacturer, or potentially even included in the cost of the car. Scour the options list when picking your next car, or even have a go at haggling with the dealer to see if they’ll throw the charger into the cost of the car if it isn’t already part of the deal.

Better still, the government offers a scheme that can save you a huge amount of money on an electric car home charger. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) can give you a grant for as much as 75% towards the cost of a charging point. It’s only applicable to certain types of charger, though, so it’s worth having a chat with your supplier if you’re unsure.

Once you’re all set up with a charger though, you’ll reap the benefits of an electric car immediately. In the UK, the average price of electricity is about 14p per kWh (kilowatt hour) — meaning an entry-level Nissan Leaf’s 40kWh hour battery would cost about £5.60 to fully charge, and that’s good for 168 miles.

For comparison, the average price of petrol in the UK is about £1.20 per litre. Cover 168 miles in a petrol car averaging 50mpg, and you’ll pay about £18.36. It’s easy to see where the cost savings quickly come from.

That’s based on an average electricity tariff though, so it might be a good time to shop around on your electricity deal and see if you can save yourself even more money. Some providers even do tariffs specifically to suit EV drivers, so it’s worth having a chat about those, too.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at a public charging point?

Charging your car at a public point is a bit less straightforward, with prices and charging rates varying wildly, but with a bit of knowledge you can continue those cost savings.

Most public charging points do charge a fee, but some are freely available. You’ll most commonly find these at supermarkets (ideal for a bit of free power while you do your shop), and sometimes they can also appear at hotels, in city centres and other places.

For those that cost, there’s often a connection fee. This varies between provider and the type of charger, but will be no more than a few quid, after which you’ll pay per kWh used.

You’re most likely to find 7kW chargers while out and about, and these tend to be the most cost-effective solutions. Rapid chargers tend to cost more, but will charge your car at a much faster rate, so they’re ideal if you’re in a hurry.

Some providers require you to register an account with them and load up money into your account, as you would with an Oyster card, then deduct money from this balance as you charge up. More are beginning to offer pay-as-you-go type services though, allowing you to pay with a contactless debit or credit card.

You can find your nearest charging point using this handy map.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car on the motorway?

In the same way as filling up a petrol or diesel car will cost you more at a motorway service station, you’ll pay more to charge an EV there than you would at public points around town. Connection fees are less common now, but the price-per-kWh tends to be higher.

That said, motorway service stations tend to have a greater number of rapid chargers than anywhere else, so you’ll be able to get an impressive return on range for your money while you tuck into an overpriced coffee and a sandwich. Be mindful as well that some chargers have time limits for use, to keep them free for other EV users.

If you’ve got a Tesla, you’ll find a Supercharger at most service stations these days. These are the fastest way to top up your electric car, with 150kW points that can take a battery from flat to full in about 40 minutes for the latest models.

Prices vary for Superchargers, so it’s worth checking before plugging in. Older models come with free Supercharger use, although the manufacturer stopped offering this on cars made after 2016, limiting it instead to a set amount of mileage credits or hours of free charge annually.

You should also note Tesla charges idle fees if more than half the cabinets are in use and you’ve left a fully charged car plugged in. You also can’t use anything other than a Tesla at these chargers at the moment, although this could change in the future.

Got more questions about electric cars? Take a look at these frequently asked questions:

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