UK Public EV Charge Costs 10 Times More Than at Home

Charging an EV can be nearly 10 times more expensive than using a consumer’s domestic power supply.

That’s the claim of a study by UK automotive consumer title What Car? which used an Audi E-tron to test pricing plans for a 10%-80% charging cycle. According to its study a motorist could see the car burn up a bill of £45.89 ($59.52) using an Ionity ultra-rapid charger providing 350 kW of charging power.

The same amount of charge delivered on a home charger at an average night-time energy tariff of 7p (9₵) per kWh would see the consumer pay just £4.66 ($6). Naturally, there’s an element of comparing apples-and-pears with the study but it does highlight the additionally vital awareness required by EV owners to plan their charging.

It’s true, that owners of traditional ICE powered vehicles have long been used to shopping around for cheap fuel but the price difference between the cheapest and most expensive service stations is rarely more than a couple of percentage points.

This study highlights the extra burden on EV owners, beyond the need to plan possible range, to adopt a thrifty mindset because they could end up a great deal more out of pocket than their ICE driving peers. Indeed, the study suggests that using the Ionity charging network makes the E-tron even pricier to run than an equivalent diesel Audi Q7. The E-tron costs 34p (44₵) per mile, while a Q7 50 TDI, which averages 27.2mpg (22.6mpg US), costs 22p (28₵) per mile.

It’s worth noting that regular use of the small number of extremely fast 350kW charging networks, capable of replenishing an EVs batteries in 30-40 minutes, will probably also shorten the expected usable life the car’s battery pack.

Yet, even slower public charging networks have been shown as being far pricier than domestic charging. The study claims charging the car at both a 50kW Shell Recharge point and a 50kW Ecotricity socket costs £25.94 ($33.64), although Ecotricity rates are cheaper for its home energy customers.

What Car? says that car owners who regularly need to use public charging networks could save money by signing up for a scheme with a one-off or a monthly fee because these often have a lower energy usage rate. One such, the Source London Full plan, will see a consumer pay £4 ($5) a month subscription but just £6.32 ($8.19) every time the car is charged at the study’s charge rate.

What Car?’s editor, Steve Huntingford, said: “Although there are still a lot of slow (3kW) public charging points that are free to use, you’ll have to pay if you want a quick energy fix. This is where the costs can rack up if you don’t research the various networks in advance.”

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

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