Prepare for a shock: the cost of living crisis is driving up the price of charging electric cars | Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars

Owhile rising gas prices may have grabbed the headlines, the energy crisis has also hit electric car owners in the pocket. The cost of charging at home has increased by 43% for some drivers, while the already higher cost of charging on the road has increased by 25%.

As energy prices rise due to rising costs for suppliers, specialist charging offers for drivers are becoming scarcer. And now there are suggestions that people might put off buying an electric car as the cost of living crisis sets in.

Although demand for vehicles is high, a new report released this week by Volkswagen Financial Services suggests that fewer people may commit to buying electric vehicles (EVs) as belts tighten and the cost of energy increases.

“The squeezing cost of living will likely mean that some potential electric vehicle buyers won’t commit to switching vehicles this year, especially as these vehicles are perceived to be more expensive in relative terms compared to powered alternatives. combustion,” the report said.

Home charging

Electric car owners who charge their vehicle at home will generally find the most cost-effective option among the specialized tariffs offered. “Two-tariff” tariffs offer one price for electricity consumed during the day and another for night-time consumption. When prices are much lower, you can recharge your battery cheaply.

For example, comparison site Love My EV lists EDF’s GoElectric 35 prices at 44.69p per kilowatt hour (p/kWh) during the day and 4.5p/kWh at night. The Octopus Go tariff costs 35.04p/kWh during the day and 7.5p/kWh at night. Both figures are based on supplying a home in South Wales.

A public charging station in Sunderland: Many electric vehicle owners cannot charge at home and have to pay fares on the road. Photography: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Since energy prices have risen, the number of specialty offers on the market has fallen, says Laura Thomson, co-founder of Love My EV. While these are generally the best deals for drivers who charge overnight, the daily rate and ongoing charges can be expensive, something consumers should consider when determining what’s best for their situation. .

“For most people who have an electric vehicle to charge at home, that makes sense, but there’s a high permanent charge and high daily rate to consider,” says Thomson. If you use a lot of electricity during the day, this may not be your best option.

The site has a price comparator. Beware of promises of “free miles” in fares as these savings may be offset by higher fees, he says.

Rising electric vehicle prices mean drivers now have to pay 43% more than a year ago. That equates to an increase of around £75 a year for an average vehicle like a Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe, says Ben Nelmes of transport research firm New AutoMotive.

In 2021, the cost of charging an electric vehicle that traveled 7,400 miles a year – the average mileage – and was charged mostly at night was £174. This was based on an overnight rate of 4 pence/kWh and a daily rate of 18 pence/kWh. Last month, this same charging practice cost £249 a year, based on the best prices then available – 5p/kWh at night and 28p/kWh during the day.

“Someone driving a larger electric vehicle, like a Kia e-Niro or a Tesla, will find that this understates what they will pay. Similarly, someone in a Smart car will find that they are spending a little less than that,” says Nelmes.

On the road

Rising costs have also become evident on public chargers. Instavolt, which operates a charging network across Britain, has raised prices twice so far this year, first from 45p/kWh to 50p/kWh and then to 57p/kWh. Ubitricity, one of London’s biggest charging networks, raised prices from 24p/kWh to 32p/kWh last month.

Data firm Zap Map, which maps public charging stations, found that on average charging costs fell from 24p/kWh in December to 30p/kWh in February for slow and fast chargers, and by 35p /kWh to 44p/kWh for quick and fast chargers. ultra-fast chargers.

“The price of charging your EV on the public grid, or at home, has increased significantly over the past few months with the general increase in electricity prices,” says Zap Map’s Melanie Shufflebotham.

There are currently 460,000 electric vehicles in the UK, according to the Volkswagen Financial Service report, and just 300,000 home charging points installed. Those without a home charger end up paying more, according to Keith Brown of Paythru, a payments technology company. “One of the big inequities in the emerging market for electric vehicle charging is the price that drivers of ‘premium’ electric vehicles pay if they don’t have or can’t have a charging point at home,” says -he. “The domestic supply is taxed at a 5% VAT rate while the supply to public charging stations is taxed at a 20% VAT rate.”

Shufflebotham requested that the rates be made equal. “Equalizing the VAT rate for public and home charging would be a great example of upgrading and encouraging more people to make the switch to electric vehicles,” she says.


Despite rising prices, drivers of electric vehicles still face much lower bills than drivers of petrol or diesel cars, using figures based on the same annual mileage for all vehicle types.

Nelmes says that while increases in the costs of charging electric vehicles at home are high, they are dwarfed by the costs of filling a car with fuel.

“We estimate that the average UK motorist would spend £1,028 a year on petrol and £987 a year on diesel. This represents an increase of £796 a year on petrol and £747 a year on diesel a year ago,” he says. “This means the fuel savings available to petrol and diesel drivers switching to electric vehicles this year is £779 for petrol drivers and £738 for diesel drivers.”

Case study: positives and negatives

After buying a Nissan Leaf in recent weeks, Philip Ingram looks back with some annoyance on the deals that were available last year.

He currently pays an all-day flat rate of 28.45p/kWh with British Gas, the best rate available at his home in Bordon, Hampshire. Last year it could have taken advantage of 5p/kWh deals overnight, he says. While there are offers with good nightly rates, now their high daytime rates mean they are not suitable for the family budget.

The boredom is tempered by the savings made by switching from a diesel VW Golf to an electric vehicle.

Ingram, who runs a cotton company called LittleLeaf Organic, previously paid nearly £90 to fill up on diesel but gets the same mileage for £20 charging. This has to be weighed against the cost of the car: £24,000. “I wish we had done this a long time ago,” he says, “but the reason we’ve been slower is… the investment costs. Several times I’ve told [my wife] Lisa, the running costs are unbelievable, but then you look at the cost of buying this car, [which] is huge.

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