EV Owners Risk Punishing UK Public Charge Fees, AA

A UK motoring organization has warned EV consumers that they currently could be paying more for a slow charge on public systems than an ultra-fast one.

The Automobile Association (AA) has published its latest Recharge Report that shows consumers could end up paying £28.80 ($35.57) for an 80% charge, forcing the cost per mile up to 16.18p (19.93¢) per mile, against the top rate fast charge of £28 at 15.73p per mile. This is because some EV charging providers have introduced peak rate fees in an attempt to smooth out demand on their charging systems.

So, while the report shows that slow charging rates have dropped by 17p/kWh compared to November, the change to offering peak and off-peak rates can catch some consumers out and see them facing extortionate charging fees. The AA says this means EV drivers need to check what they will be charged as peak rates. At the same time, operators run their peak times differently, so drivers should check what rate is applied before plugging in. Yet another headache likely to dissuade many motorists from making the switch from ICE powered vehicles.

The AA also points out that a continuing fall in the pump price of fuel now places the running costs around 14.45p/mile meaning that an ICE powered vehicle is cheaper to run per mile than an EV exclusively using the fastest types of chargers. However, currently most EV drivers with home and work charging access will only use rapid and ultra-rapid chargers on longer journeys or as a quick top up meaning that electric drivers should be able to save money when comparing overall running costs. This further underlines the obstacles facing apartment dwelling city folk and a further incentive not to make the move away from ICE ownership.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy and recharging for the AA, said: “The introduction of peak and off-peak charging mirrors many domestic energy providers’ offering to EV owners. We completely understand why this has been introduced as it allows the supply of electricity to remain constant throughout the day while ensuring drivers don’t overstay their welcome. However, the price gap between the two is staggering, so much like refilling a petrol or diesel car, drivers should check the rates they could be paying before plugging in.

“While pump prices are falling, electricity prices are going in the other direction but we are hopeful prices could tail off later this year. The government must keep an eye on prices and act if necessary. Unlike fuel, EV charging already has a regulator in place to monitor public charging rates and they shouldn’t be afraid to step in if prices escalate.” These words are unlikely to assuage the angst of some motorist protection groups who, for many years, have been calling for the government to create a similar regulator to protect ICE vehicle users from service station profiteers.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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