The cost of charging an electric car is one of the most common FAQs we receive at Vanarama Towers… And the answer we give, without exception, is: nearly always less than an equivalent petrol or diesel car.
Nearly always because if you find yourself hooking up to an ultra-rapid 350kW Ionity charger then prices can get uncomfortably close to old-fashioned fuel when you look at the cost per mile.
But superfast 350kW charging aside, it is always significantly cheaper, particularly if you can charge at home or even better, using a free charging station that you can find at many workplaces, retail outlets, parking garages, hotels and the like.
Here’s The Summary
Electric car charging cost: 5p per mile
Petrol car fuel costs: 11p per mile
Nissan Leaf home charge - £8.68 for 168 miles of range (5p per mile)
Nissan Leaf Roadside charge - £15.50 for 168 miles of range (9p per mile)
Nissan Micra - Fuel price: £49.20 for 414 miles (11p per mile)
- (based on fuel price 120p)
- (based on electricity price 14p kWh at home and 25p kWh in public )
- (Based on Nissan Micra Visia 1.0 litre petrol car)
So there you have it, even compared to a small petrol car that’s relatively cheap to run, the running costs of electric cars are comparatively low.
But Aren’t Electric Cars More Expensive To Start With?
Many people are concerned that the slightly higher cost of new electric models (in comparison to petrol or diesel cars) offset any savings, but the fact is over the course of ownership, electric cars should cost you less than an ‘old school’ internal combustion engine, or ICE, car.
And when you lease, you spread that slightly higher entry price across the life of the vehicle meaning that leasing can become an extremely effective way of offsetting the current premium you might pay for an EV.
Electricity is significantly cheaper to buy than petrol and diesel, and on top of that, electric vehicles will cost less to maintain because they have fewer moving parts.
Overall Charging Costs Can Be Higher Depending On The Car You Choose
Of course not every electric vehicle is the same – performance models will need more electricity to produce that added oomph, so just as a 3-litre petrol engine in a big, executive saloon will use more fuel than a 1-litre engine in a little hatchback, electric cars will have different charging needs and consequently different running costs.
Home Electric Car Charging Is By Far The Cheapest Option
However you decide to get your electricity, as an EV owner, you really do have so many more options to top up with juice.
Electric car charging at home, using your own supply, means you can rely on the software in most cars to draw power only in the early hours of the morning to benefit from off-peak electricity deals.
Tariffs still vary between suppliers but in a highly competitive market, night-time charging costs can be significantly lower. As an example, Octopus Energy currently offers four hours off off-peak electricity every day for 5p per kWh, rising to 13.33p in the day.
Many electricity suppliers are trying to win over electric vehicle owners, and overnight charging on a discounted rate will make recharging significantly more cost effective than stopping for a tank of fuel.
And getting a good deal from your electricity supplier can extend beyond just a cheap rate. Right now suppliers such as Ovo are throwing in free BP Pulse subscriptions meaning you’ll get discounted electricity on the road if you use the BP network. Choose the right deal and some makes of car even qualify you for up to 5000 free miles of charging.
Paul Kirby, Head of EV at Vanarama, says you couldn’t hope for a better time to find a great charging deal:
“Electricity is a buyers’ market right now with some very competitive and compelling offers out there – especially for EV drivers! You won’t find that on a petrol forecourt!”
Charging Away From Home
And if you can’t get to a home charger or free electric car charging point then you’re going to have to head to what is the modern equivalent of an old-school service station in the form of a booming network of suppliers who will allow you to plug in and charge up at one of their outlets.
If you’re plugging into a paying public network, the simple fact is your charging costs will vary depending on the speed you draw electricity.
The slower the electric car charging point – for example, a lamp-post charger – the cheaper the rate. This sort of solution is perfect for plugging in cost effectively when you know you’re going to be parked up for a while.
Again, while prices per supplier will vary depending on location and speed, as an indication of cost, a Renault Zoe with a 40kWh battery pack will cost anywhere between £9.36 to charge to 80% on an Ecotricity 43kW AC charger at 30p per kw, and as low as £8.64 paying 27p per kWh at a BP Pulse charger.
If, however, you need a rapid top-up then the network of rapid or superchargers that you will find at motorway service stations will mean you can get your batteries back up to full faster, but you will pay more for the privilege – sometimes as much as two or three times the cost of home charging.
Need to charge on the go? Take a look at our handy guide to where to charge an electric car.
Get Smart Out On The Road
When you’re out on the road, it pays to use one of the many helpful charging apps (such as Zap-Map) for your smartphone to seek out the most cost-effective charging points.
On the paying network – often with faster chargers – costs are unsurprisingly higher, ranging from 12p per kWh up to nearly 40p per kWh from some rapid charging points working on a simple ‘pay as your charge’ basis.
Even then, however, the cost of fully charging a 90kWh car like a Jaguar I-Pace on a 40p charger is still less than £40 – significantly cheaper than putting 70 litres of diesel into an equivalent saloon at £1.20 a litre...
How To Calculate Your Car’s Cheapest Charging Cost
As we mentioned earlier, the variety of charging solutions and different specifications of vehicles means there is no ‘one size fits all’ cost to charge a car, but there are some basic parameters that allow you to calculate your running costs and compare them to what you might be used to as a petrol or diesel driver.
Although home electricity costs do vary slightly across the country, the average price is currently 14p per kWh. To work out what that means in car charging cost you can simply multiply the rate by the battery size of your car and then divide it by 100. The answer is the cost in pounds for a single full home charge.
So to work out the cost of fully charging a 62kWh battery in a Nissan Leaf, its 14p times 62kWh divided by 100. Or £8.68.
And remember that’s based on an average electricity rate. Use an off-peak discounted rate and the chances are you could charge a Nissan Leaf for around £6.
And remember too, that unless you’re emptying your battery in a single day, most over-night charging at home will simply be a top-up and subsequently cost you even less.
Our Top 3 Tips For Cheaper Electric Car Charging
As with all things EV, it pays to do your homework when it comes to running costs. At Vanarama we want to make it easy for you to live electric so remember these three top tips for lowering your charging costs and you will get the best value out of your car for years to come:
If you can, upgrade to a 7kW charger at home. This will charge your car more quickly than the standard 3kW home chargers but at no extra cost, particularly useful if you’re charging through the night.
Shop around for the best electricity rates so that you can make the most of the lowest overall price per kWh or sign up to cheaper Economy 7 or Economy 10 night time rates.
When you’re making longer journeys do a little planning using a smartphone app or even Apple or Google Maps to find the nearest and cheapest charging points.
Want to know more? Take a look at our handy guide on everything you need to know about charging electric cars.