Cost of charging EVs increases by 42 percent in four months

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The cost to charge an electric car on a pay-as-you-go basis at a publicly accessible ‘rapid’ charger has increased by 42 percent – or 18.75p per kilowatt hour – since May to reach an average of 63.29p per kilowatt hour, new data from RAC Charge Watch indicates. 

This in turn means that the cost is up nearly £10 since May and £13.59 compared to a year ago.

On top of that, drivers using the fastest, so-called ‘ultra-rapid’ chargers that have a power output of more than 100kW have seen average charging costs increase by a quarter in four months. 

This puts the cost of an 80 percent charge at £32.74, up from £26.10 in May (25 percent increase) and from £17.51 in September 2021 (87 percent increase).

The RAC’s figures show that a driver exclusively using a rapid or ultra-rapid charger on the public network will now pay around 18p per mile for electricity, up from an average of 13p per mile in May.

This compares to 19p per mile for a petrol car and 21p per mile for a diesel one, based on someone driving at an average of 40 miles to the gallon.

In reality, many current electric car drivers will predominantly charge at home where electricity is cheaper.

The RAC also stressed that under the Energy Price Guarantee that takes effect next weekend, the cost per mile for an average-sized EV driven reasonably efficiently is around 9p and the cost to charge a car to 80 percent at home will be £17.87.

But the huge price gap between home and public charging highlights the extent to which drivers who depend on the charging network, including those who don’t have driveways and can’t charge at home, pay a hefty premium to run electric cars.

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The RAC is also concerned the relatively high cost of rapid charging on the public network risks putting off drivers from opting for electric cars when they next change their vehicles.

According to the RAC, drivers using public chargers unfairly pay 20 percent in VAT for electricity they buy, compared to charging at home where it’s just five percent.

RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams said: “For those that have already made the switch to an electric car or are thinking of doing so, it remains the case that charging away from home costs less than refuelling a petrol or diesel car, but these figures show that the gap is narrowing as a result of the enormous increases in the cost of electricity.

“These figures very clearly show that it’s drivers who use public rapid and ultra-rapid chargers the most who are being hit the hardest.

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“The Energy Price Guarantee benefits those drivers who are fortunate enough to charge their cars at home, but for those that rely on the public charging network – including those without driveways – it’s a much bleaker picture right now.

“The fact wholesale energy will prices be capped for six months should lead to some price reductions by charge point operators in the coming weeks – but what EV drivers don’t want to see is operators having to hike their charges next Spring if wholesale costs keep climbing.

“The Government is largely relying on the private sector to do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting the country’s electric car charging infrastructure up to the scale and standard it needs to be to allow for mass adoption of electric vehicles.

“The problem is that these companies face such enormous cost increases that their investments in new charging sites, and upgrades of old ones, are in jeopardy unless costs can be kept down.”

Mr Williams continued: “Last week, charge point operators got behind the RAC-backed FairCharge campaign in calling for the Government to end the inequality that exists between drivers who can charge at home and those that cannot, by cutting the 20 percent VAT charged on electricity at public chargers to match the five percent domestic rate.

“The Government needs to redouble its efforts in helping drivers to go electric if it is to meet its own net-zero transport objectives and levelling the public and domestic electricity VAT rates would show it is serious about doing so at a time when household budgets are getting ever tighter.”

Quentin Willson, founder of the FairCharge campaign, said: “With electricity costs up by an average of 140 percent on last year and the Government’s divisive VAT levy of 20 percent on public charging, EV adoption is under threat.

“This Government needs to act on charging costs, cap rises on public chargers, lower VAT and support charge point operators to build infrastructure. If they don’t, all those years of promises of a zero-emission future, clean air and energy independence will have come to nothing.”

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