As electric and hybrid vehicles (EHVs) continue to increase in popularity, one of the most frequently asked questions (aside from “how far can I travel on a single charge?”) is “how much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?”
It’s a good, and very important, question. The answer is dependent on a variety of different factors, all of which should be taken into account when choosing the vehicle that’s right for you and your budget.
Check the battery capacity
There are multiple different types and sizes of batteries used to power EHVs. Not every EHV will incorporate the same type or combination of batteries and different cars will have different battery capacities.
Some manufacturers will allow you to choose the battery capacity. The rule of thumb when it comes to battery capacity is that the bigger the better. A larger battery will naturally hold more charge and you’ll be able to drive further on a single charge. Conversely, the bigger the battery, the more it will cost you to charge it.
Where to charge the battery?
When contemplating the ownership of an EHV, it’s imperative you plan and agree where it will be charged. At home? At work? In a public car park? At a service station? Most people end up using a combination of several charge points, all of which attract varying costs.
At home charging using a wall box mounted in a garage or on the exterior of a property is by far the cheapest, and often, most convenient option as it can be delivered overnight when the vehicle is not required for an extended period. The public charging network is currently the fastest way to charge an EHV, but you will pay a premium for this speed so it will work out more expensive than domestic charging.
Do your maths
The only way to understand how much it will cost to charge the EHV of your choice is to do some basic maths.
In order to calculate how much each different vehicle will cost to charge, you must multiply its battery capacity by the selected energy cost.
Take home charging. First of all, you need to know what your energy tariff is. The average cost of electricity in the UK is currently 15.5p/kWh. A Nissan Leaf has a 40kWh battery so it will cost £6.20 for a full charge. A car with a larger capacity battery, such as a BMWi3 with 125kWh battery will work out at £19.37.
When you’ve made the decision to purchase an EHV, It’s worth contacting your energy supplier direct as they may be able to offer a specific EHV package to include a free domestic charge unit, lower off-peak rate for overnight charging and discounts on some public network charge points.
As you might expect, the rates for public chargers differ greatly. You will find some that charge by time and others that charge per kWh. Again, the average cost is related to the average speed charge. 3kW chargers are slow but they’re cheap so, if you’re not up against the clock, they work out the best value. Rapid chargers that provide 50kW charging are widely regarded as the most expensive, but your car will, of course, charge much faster.
Some manufacturers, such as Tesla, will even provide you with unlimited free access to their network of 120kW Superchargers. The key is to ask the motor dealer or garage and fully understand your charging options before you buy.
In comparison to traditional petrol or diesel car ownership, owning an EHV requires much more planning and ‘thinking ahead’, particularly when making a long journey. Wherever you find yourself in the UK, it’s relatively easy to find a find a conventional filling station. It may not be that simple to find a suitable charging point for an EHV and you must always remember to plug it in before you go to bed!