One of the many reasons for choosing to go electric is the potential cash saving on offer. In many instances, electricity is cheaper than traditional fuels such as petrol or diesel, in some cases costing over half as much for a "full tank of fuel".
However, it all depends on where and how you charge, so here's our in-depth guide that will answer all your questions.
How much will it cost to charge my car at home?
According to the government backed Go Ultra Low electric vehicle campaign, around 90% of owners charge their EVs at home, and this is the cheapest way to charge. Of course, it depends on the car you're charging and the tariff of your electricity supplier, but overall it won't cost nearly as much to "fuel" your EV as a traditional internal combustion engined vehicle. For example, something like a Nissan Leaf should cost less than £5 for for a full charge, even on the most expensive tariffs, and that will give you up to 200 miles of range. Better still, invest in one of the latest "smart" wallboxes and you can use an app on your phone to programme the unit to only charge when electricity is cheapest, typically overnight.
How much will it cost to install a car charging point at home?
You can simply use the factory supplied three pin plug charger, but charging times are lengthy and manufacturers warn against sustained use due to the current drain on the socket. Therefore, it's best to use a dedicated wall-mounted unit, which can charge at up to 7kW, more than twice as fast as the three pin alternative.
There are a number of different manufacturers to choose from, plus a choice of tethered (with a charging cable permanently attached) or untethered (allowing you to choose different sockets and cables for different cars) layouts. Regardless of which one you plump for, you'll need a qualified electrician both to check your household wiring is up to the task and then to install the box.
The good news is that the government is keen for motorists to go green and is offering generous subsidies, so if you have a unit fitted by an authorised installer, then the Office of Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) will stump up 75% of the overall cost up to a maximum of £350. Of course, the prices vary, but with the grant, you can expect to pay around £400 for a home charging station.
How much will it cost at a public charging station?
Again, this is dependent on your car and the way you use it, because there are numerous options when it comes to public charging stations. For instance, if you only need charge when out and about infrequently, then a pay-as-you-go method is possible, costing between 20p and 70p per kWh, depending on whether you’re using a fast or rapid charger, the latter costing more to use. Recent arrival Instavolt works on this principle, requiring nothing more than contactless payment as when you need to top up, Others providers will charge an hourly rate (effectively a parking charge) plus a kWh charge for electricity consumed.
If you travel further afield more frequently, then providers such as Polar offer a subscription service with a monthly fee of about £8, but this gives you free access to about 80% of its network of 7000 chargers instead of paying the normal pay-as-you-go rate. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some hotels and shopping centres offer free charging to customers. The widespread use of smartphone apps for all providers makes it easy to see where the charging points are, how much they cost to use and and whether they’re free, so you can easily tap into a provider that suits your needs and budget.
Many manufacturers also offer simplified charging by giving access to numerous providers under their own charging scheme. For instance, Audi’s E-tron Charging Service account gives access to nearly 20 different energy firms, while all new E-trons come with a voucher that’ll cover the first 1000 miles worth of charges for free. Tesla owners get their own dedicated rapid-charging Supercharger network, plus a number of Destination fast chargers at locations such as hotels. Owners of a Model S or Model X registered before 2017 are eligible for free charging, while owners of later cars will currently be charged at a rate of 26p per kWh.
How much does it cost for motorway charging?
You’ll pay a little more to charge at a motorway service station, largely because most of the chargers there are fast or rapid units. Until recently, Ecotricity was the only provider at these locations, with around 300 chargers available, but it has now been joined by companies such as Ionity. In the case of Ecotricity, there’s a choice of both AC and DC charging options, all with a 45-minute maximum use time. You’ll be charged a £3 connection fee plus 17p per kWh used. However, if you use Ecotricity for your home energy supply, then the connection fee will be waived. Ionity costs a little more for pay-as-you-go customers but has commercial tie-ins with EV manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar, which entitles drivers of these cars to lower rates.
It’s still early days when it comes to companies providing electric car charging for its employees. Usually, you’ll not be charged to plug in when you get to work, and in fact it could be financially beneficial for your employer to install charging points. As with private homes, the government offers a £350 subsidy for every charger it installs, plus there’s no benefit-in-kind taxation for the electricity used, either for company vehicles or employees' own cars.
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