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How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
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The world of motoring is changing. As tackling climate change becomes a higher priority, many of us are looking for cleaner ways to drive. This and new government targets concerning the production of petrol and diesel cars have led to more and more car manufacturers releasing fully electric car models. But the big question is, how much does it actually cost to charge an electric car?

As well as the obvious benefits to the environment, one thing that may surprise you about an electric car is just how much cheaper it is to run than a diesel or petrol vehicle. Let’s break down what you can expect to pay to charge an electric car.

Home charging

As with petrol and diesel cars, how much it costs to fully charge an electric car will depend on the model, make and specification of the vehicle. However, probably the cheapest way to charge your electric car will be to do it from home.

There is a simple equation to use when it comes to electric cars. The capacity of the vehicle’s battery is expressed in kilowatt hours (kWh). So to work out how much it is likely to cost to charge your car from completely empty to full, you will need to multiply the size of the car’s battery by your supplier’s charge for electricity (pence per kWh).

For example, a Nissan LEAF has a 40 kWh battery. If you multiply this by the average cost of electricity in the UK – 14.4p per kWh according to UK Power – you would be looking at a cost of £5.76 to fully charge your car. Yep, you read that right – just £5.76.

Obviously, a car with a larger battery would cost that bit more to charge. For new, mid-range electric cars from the likes of Kia and Hyundai, expect a battery size of 64 kWh.  This would make the cost of a full charge £9.22 on the same electricity tariff.

For even larger models, such as the 100 kWh Tesla Model S, expect to pay £14.40 for a full charge.

Websites like Zap-Map have home charging calculators which illustrate the charging cost for your chosen vehicle. 

Don’t forget

There are a couple of things to note with home charging:

  • If you plan to do most of your charging at home, take a look at your electricity tariff. If your tariff includes a night-time off-peak reduction, you could save some money by charging your car overnight.
  • While you can charge your electric car from a regular socket, it is advisable to install a home charge point. There is an Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) grant available which provides up to £350 off the cost of purchasing and installing a home charging point. 
  • It’s worth finding out whether your property has any electrical load restrictions. Basically, you may find that your property will not support 7 kWh of additional load, meaning you will need to charge your car at 3 kWh. If this is the case, you may find that your charging costs are slightly higher.

Public charging

Of course, there are going to be occasions when you need to charge your electric car away from the house. So how much will it cost to charge your electric car when you’re out and about?

You may find that some locations around the country offer free charging in their car parks. Places like supermarkets will often have charge points that are free to use for the duration of your stay. This service is provided as incentives for you to visit their businesses. Charge points are available at some pay and display car parks, so you’ll pay the cost of a parking ticket to charge your car. 

Most modern charging networks offer free-to-download mobile apps which can help you locate charge points and start your charge. You’ll need your own charging cable, but once you’ve downloaded the app, you can use it to start your charge. There will be a cost, and tariffs will be set by the host.

Some older charge points require a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card, and you will need to register with a membership scheme to get one. However, the government wants all newly installed rapid and higher-powered charge points to provide ‘pay as you go’ debit or credit card payment options. So the need to belong to a membership scheme should soon be reduced.

If you wish to use a rapid charger – a type of charger typically found at motorway service stations that provides a 100-mile charge in 30 minutes – then you can expect the cost to rise slightly. For example, Pod Point’s rapid chargers cost 23p/kWh at Lidl – which is about £6-7 for 30 minutes of charging.

While convenient, rapid chargers are an expensive way to charge your electric car and are best used only when absolutely necessary.

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