What is the cost difference between filling up at petrol stations or charging at electric car charging points? Is using an electric car actually a lot cheaper than using petrol cars or diesel cars? Just some of the questions that you'll be thinking about when deciding whether or not to purchase a new car, especially with costs having risen across the board.
We have looked at the cost of charging an electric car, both at home and in public, and compared it to an equivalent petrol and diesel model to let you see the advantage that an EV can have.
When looking at electric cars and charging options you'll see the terms kW and kWh used all over the place including for battery capacity and as an equivalent to mpg in petrol or diesel car models.
Whilst kW refers to the universal standard for measuring units of electricity it refers to one thousand watts of electrical power. kWh is a measure of energy being used per hour, specifically one kilowatt of power for one hour (alternatively 3600 kilojoules).
The most common way to charge your electric car at home is by using a dedicated wall charger that is fitted onto the outside of your home and used solely by your car. It's wired into your domestic electricity mains supply and contributes towards your electricity bill in the same way that using the kettle or turning on the tv does.
Your chosen electric car will come with a cable suited to this home charger that will connect your car to the charger and will typically have an output of 7kW or 22kW, varying your charging time depending on which one you have.
Alternatively, you can also use a charging cable with a three pin plug to charge directly from an internal wall socket in your home. It works exactly the same as using a wall charger but at a lower outputs, usually between 2.3 kW and 6 kW, which increases the length of time that it takes for you to gain a full charge.
You can lower the cost of charging your electric car at home further by taking advantage of off peak times which will have a much lower impact on your electricity bill and then save you money.
Public charging points generally have a higher output with the most common ones you'll come across being around 50 kW. These are rapid chargers that will usually give you a significant boost to your charge when charging an electric car in a short period of time. Most electric cars can be charged to around 80% in 30 minutes.
Whilst you're sparing the use of electricity at home, you need to pay to connect and charge at these charge points most of the time. Some do offer subscriptions for either a specific set of charging points, ideal if you live somewhere that has lots of these available, whilst some will connect you to a charging unit in a much wider network across multiple brands.
Many employers now provide electric charging points for electric cars to their staff free of charge. If this is available to you then it drastically reduces the cost of charging, potentially entirely depending on how much you use your car.
For example if you only use your car to go to and from work and occasionally outside of that then chances are a full charge from your workplace will cover you most of the time. There may be the odd occasion that you'll need to charge at home or out in public, if you're on holiday or a longer journey, but some drivers do manage to charge an electric car at a much lower cost because of this.
Public charging points are a combination of pay as you go and subscription tariffs. Whilst you don't necessarily need a subscription to a charge point to use them, if one is available it likely gives you a preferential tariff price compared to simply tapping your card to the machine.
For example, BP Pulse has a subscription that costs £7.85 a month and gives you access to reduced electricity tariff with member rates from 44p kWh compared to energy prices from 57p kWh for non members. In pennies it's a very small difference but looking at cheaper fixed tariff than at paying for an entire charge definitely benefits your wallet.
Take the Jaguar I-PACE and its 90 kWh battery capacity. To charge from 10% to 90% as a BP Pulse member the full cost of charging it is £28 whilst without a subscription it would come to £36. Even with the monthly membership rate added on it's a significantly cheaper way to use the service.
Other rapid charging options, such as Shell Recharge, have different tariffs for different charger types. Rapid chargers are set at 79p kWh, £50 for a full charge on an I-PACE, whilst Ultra Rapid chargers are higher at 85p kWh, £54 on an I-PACE.
Chargeplace Scotland has a one off cost of £10 to all electric vehicles to join their network for EV charging, but the rates are still set by whoever the charging station belongs to which makes it difficult to make a generalised comparison of electricity costs. These do advertise as having a connection charge, however.
Looking at charging from your house however is cheaper still. Based on an average UK electricity price of 34p per kWh, the cost to charge an electric car on 3kW outputs is £31 whilst this lowers to £28 if you are able to charge at 7 kW.
Many workplaces now offer spaces to charge an electric vehicle or car on site for their staff for free. Having access to free charging stations and points makes a huge difference to you overall costs including potentially avoiding having to install a point for home charging of electric vehicles.
Taking the example of the Jaguar I-PACE with the above cost to charge at home and compare it to a petrol car equivalent like the Jaguar F-PACE. Websites with information on charging points, and smartphone apps such as Zap Map, also offer charge point calculators to help you with fuel costs and determine how much of a saving you could make by switching to an electric car.
Using this calculator to look at the cost of a daily 40 mile journey in both cars estimates that the petrol F-Pace would cost you £10 whilst the electric I-PACE would only cost £5.80. This works out as 25.1p per mile for the petrol and 14.5p per mile for the electric car. The same journey in a diesel F-Pace costs £8.02 or 20p per mile.
Annually this daily trip in an electric vehicle will save you £1551 when compared to a petrol car or £810 in a diesel car.*
A typical EV owner will clearly save money compared to a similar petrol or diesel car, even with current domestic electricity costs which is great news if you're looking for an electric car now ahead of the government's ban of all new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
Between lower running costs and incentives still available to help you purchase a new electric car and the relevant home charging unit it's clear that in the long-term you will save money by purchasing and using electric cars.
*Cost savings accurate at time of writing.