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Public Charging For Electric Cars Nearing Petrol Prices

Recent research by the RAC, and as reported on the BBC (published 26th Sept), has shown that the cost of charging an electric car has surged due to the rise in energy prices. This is creating fear within the industry that people will be put off buying them.

The RAC has said that electric car (EV) owners who use “rapid” public charging points were paying almost the same for electricity as they would for petrol per mile. This is a staggering finding as the cost of electric vs petrol is a major benefit of buying an EV.


Related Reading: Are All Electric Vehicle Chargers The Same?


Charging an EV at home is still significantly cheaper, but with domestic bills rising fast, this also is cause for concern. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been blamed for much of the recent rise in electricity and gas prices, and with winter around the corner the mix of economic and geo-political factors will impact such prices for some time to come.

As reported by the RAC, the cost to charge an electric car via a pay-as-you-go, publicly accessible rapid charging unit has increased by 42% since May 2022 and now averages 63.29p per kWh.

This is a significant hike in price and means drivers who only use public networks to charge their vehicles are paying approximately 18p per mile for electricity.

That is only 1p less per mile than it is for petrol (based on someone driving at an average of 40 miles to the gallon – the motoring group).

The cost per mile for charging an EV at home is around 9p per mile for the average-sized car. It is common for EV drivers with charging units at home to charge their cars overnight.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams says, “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.”

Mr Williams also says that the government’s support package for household energy bills will benefit drivers charging vehicles at home. But he warns that for those relying on public charge points and without their own charging unit at home, it is a “much bleaker picture”.

On the plus side, the cap on wholesale energy prices for businesses, which will see bills reduced by around half their expected level this winter will lead to some stability and price reductions by charging point companies in the coming weeks.


Related Reading: Why Installing A Workplace EV Charger Is A Great Idea


Charging vehicles at home is cheaper than public chargers due to the way electricity is taxed, and the RAC is calling for VAT to be reduced from 20% to 5% at public charging units so it is at a similar level to that of home charging.

As Mr Williams says “That would reduce the cost of an 80% rapid charge by 7.91p to 55.38p per kWh, and an ultra-rapid charge by 7.99p to 55.95p per kWh and would not unfairly penalise those drivers who can’t charge their cars at home”.

The Department for Transport has said that EVs continue to “offer opportunities for savings against their petrol and diesel counterparts, with lower overall running costs thanks to cheaper charging, lower maintenance costs and tax incentives”.

“We want consumers to have the confidence to make the switch to cleaner, zero emissions cars, and that is why we continue to support the growth of our world-leading charging network and have pledged £1.6bn since 2020 to delivering chargepoints across the country,” a statement added.

Electric cars also usually cost thousands of pounds more than their petrol or diesel counterparts. This is because EV batteries are expensive to make and a high level of investment is needed to transform existing factory production lines to manufacture the new technology.

But the benefits of having an electric car far outweigh the negatives, especially in the current climate. Costs will come down in the near future and while electricity prices are spiking, they will stabilise and become much cheaper again than either petrol or diesel. Supply and demand across all aspects of EVs is the way to go.


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