Smart Transport

Rapid charging costs up by a fifth in eight months

Electric vehicle (EV) charging

The cost of using a rapid charger on a pay-as-you-go, non-subscription basis have risen by 21% since September, new figures reveal.

Analysis by the RAC’s new Charge Watch initiative and the FairCharge campaign shows that the per kilowatt hour (kWh) price has risen by 7.81p, from 36.74p to 44.55p.  

It means that the average cost to complete an 80% rapid charge of a typical family-sized electric car with a 64kWh battery has increased by £4 in the past eight months, from £18.81 to £22.81.

In stark contrast, the cost of filling a 55-litre family car from empty to 80% with petrol has increased by £14.54 to £74.21 - a 24% increase.

The RAC’s analysis shows that it now costs on average 10p per mile to charge at a rapid charger, up from 8p per mile (ppm) last September.

This is nearly half the cost per mile compared to filling a petrol-powered family car, the cost of which has risen from 15ppm since the end of last September to 19ppm now. The cost per mile for a similarly sized diesel-powered car is even higher at nearly 21p.

Meanwhile, the average price of charging at the quickest ultra-rapid chargers – which have a power output of 100kW-plus and can deliver a charge to a compatible vehicle in as little as 20 minutes – has increased by 16.76p per kWh, from 34.21p per kWh in September to 50.97p in May. This means the cost to charge a vehicle to 80% has risen from £17.51 to £26.10.

The price increases facing drivers of electric cars using publicly accessible chargers can be explained by the rises in the wholesale cost of electricity, which itself is driven by hikes in the cost of gas.

Ofgem figures show that the wholesale cost of gas doubled between the end of September 2021 and the end of March this year, with wholesale electricity prices rising by around 65% over the same period.

RAC electric vehicle spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Our analysis shows that the quickest places to charge are also the most expensive with ultra-rapid chargers costing on average 14% more to use than rapid chargers.

“For drivers in a hurry though, or travelling a long distance, paying this premium might well be worth it with the very fastest chargers capable of almost completely replenishing an electric car’s battery in a matter of minutes.

“Having said that, the most affordable way of charging an electric car isn’t at a public charger – it’s from home, where overnight electricity rates can be much lower than their public charger counterparts.

“Our own RAC Recharge tariff, for instance, costs just 12p per kWh overnight. But for people who have no option of charging up at home, there is no opportunity to benefit from these sorts of savings.”

The other reason home charging can be so much cheaper is because of the way that electricity is taxed.

“VAT on electricity from a public charger is levied at a rate four-times that which applies to domestic electricity which makes it far more expensive to charge on-the-go than it should be,” explained Williams.

The FairCharge campaign is therefore calling for the 20% VAT rate currently charged on electricity at public chargers to be cut to match the 5% levied on domestic electricity.

Williams said: “We are right behind the FairCharge campaign in thinking this is totally unfair and flies in the face of the Government’s ambition for many more drivers to opt for an electric vehicle.

“We understand conversations have been had within Government over this ‘no driveway premium’, but it’s time there was an acceptance that a VAT rate that’s more favourable to drivers who have their own off-street parking risks putting other drivers off making the switch.

“Given the cost-of-living crisis, it’s surely only fair that everyone pays the same level of VAT no matter where they buy their electricity from.”

The RAC has launched Charge Watch to give greater clarity to drivers about what they can expect to pay to charge on public networks.

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