Breaking down the basics of electric vehicle charging, from public and household charging costs to different charging speeds and how to find a suitable device
Electric car charging costs are rising across the UK as home and business energy prices rise.
Recent research has revealed that as electric vehicles gain popularity, the cost of charging them also rises sharply, and in some cases approaches the cost per kilometer of a gas-powered car.
Despite this, for many drivers an electric car is still significantly cheaper to run than a combustion engine model, with the difference significantly affected by factors such as location and charger speed.
As automakers increasingly focus on electric vehicles and the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel models draws closer and closer, more and more drivers are considering making the switch, so to help you, we have laid out the basics on the cost of charging. an EV, how long it takes, and how different factors affect the two.
How many car charging stations are there in the UK?
There are currently almost 35,000 public electric vehicle charging stations in the UK, but the government has announced that it wants this number to increase to 300,000 by 2030.
Some £500million will be invested to install public charging stations across the UK as part of the government’s new electric vehicle infrastructure strategy, it was announced on March 25, 2022.
How much does charging an EV cost?
The answer to this depends on a number of factors, but either way, costs have skyrocketed throughout 2022.
The first factor is the car itself. Different models have different battery capacities and in some cases the same car may come with a choice of battery capacities. The bigger the battery, the more expensive it will be to charge, but the further you’ll get on a single charge.
The second factor is where you plan to charge. Typically, charging at home using a home wallbox is cheaper than using a public charger. The type of charger will also have an effect. If you’re using a public charging network, the faster the charger, the more you should expect to pay.
To calculate the cost of charging a particular car, multiply its capacity by the cost of energy.
It’s simple for home charging, as long as you know your energy price. For example, the best-selling Renault Zoe has a 52 kWh battery. At the current cap price of 34 pence per kWh, it will cost you £17.68 for a full charge. A 64kWh vehicle such as the Nissan Leaf E+, Hyundai Kona or Kia e-Niro will cost £21.76 and a 100kWh Tesla Model S will cost £34.
Some energy providers offer bespoke EV packages with incentives such as discounted off-peak rates for overnight charging, which can bring rates down to as low as 7p per kWh. However, in the current climate, many companies have stopped offering these rates to new customers.
Costs to public chargers are more complicated. Most charge per kWh, others charge by the time, and some include an upfront connection fee. Some networks also offer preferential rates to subscribers who pay a monthly or annual fee.
Typically, 7kW slow chargers are the cheapest and in some places offer free charging. The highest costs are found in ultra-fast units that offer charging between 100 kW and 350 kW.
At 66p per kWh, a full charge for a Zoe would cost £34.32, while a 64kWh model like an e-Niro would cost £42.24, although most drivers simply charge public fast chargers instead than relying on them for 100% loads.
How long does it take to charge an EV?
Like cost, the answer to this depends on a number of factors.
The two main influences are the size of the car battery and the power output of the charger.
Chargers range from “fast” units – between 7 kW and 22 kW – to fast (usually 50 kW) and ultra-fast 100-350 kW. The more powerful a charger, the faster it will recharge a car battery.
Ultra-fast chargers that offer more than 100kW are still relatively rare, although their numbers are growing and according to Zap-Map there are nearly 6,500 fast and ultra-fast devices today. At a station capable of charging 100 kW, a typical electric vehicle will charge to 80% in as little as 20 minutes.
As you’d expect, larger batteries take longer to charge, but on a more common 50kW fast charger, most current models will charge to 80% in 60-90 minutes.
A 40kW Nissan Leaf will go from 20 to 80% charge in around 60 minutes, while the 62kW version will take 90. Hyundai says its 64kWh Kona Electric will take 75 minutes to go from zero to 80% charge on a fast charger and Renault claims the 52kWh Zoe will add the same charge in 100 minutes.
Below the fast chargers, the “fast” chargers operate between 7kW and 22kW. On public grids, they’re useful for fast charging rather than full charging, with an 80 per cent charge taking around two hours for a 40kWh battery on a 22kW unit.
Home wallboxes also typically offer 7kW charging, where overnight charging will fully recharge most car batteries. A full charge will take between seven and 12 hours on a 7kW charger, depending on battery size. For example, a 40 kWh Leaf takes about seven and a half hours while the 62 kWh model takes 11 and a half hours. The Zoe will take about eight hours, while the Kona will take nine and a half.
Where can I recharge my EV?
For most electric vehicle buyers, a home wall station is the preferred charging solution. This allows them to plug in the car to charge at a time that suits them. There is a grant scheme to help pay for a home charging station and some manufacturers will also help cover the costs. In England, all new homes must now include an EV charger and similar legislation is being considered in Scotland.
However, when you’re on the go, there are over 30 networks offering public charging. According to Zap-Map, there are currently 34,860 charging stations spread over 20,888 locations, ranging from 3kW to 350kW.
Common locations for finding public chargers are motorway service stations, retail parks and supermarkets, public car parks and park and ride facilities as well as leisure centres, hotels, tourist attractions and car dealerships. More and more retailers such as McDonalds and Costa are also partnering with charging companies to install fast charging units at their outlets.
Service stations dedicated to electric vehicles are also starting to appear. Gridserve has opened two EV-specific power forecourts with up to 30 chargers each and Pivot Power has announced plans for a 38-charger location near Oxford. The two companies also plan to create dozens of similar sites across the UK in the coming years.
Different locations will feature chargers from different networks. In some cases, this may mean that you have to sign up for additional networks before you can use the chargers. However, some networks work together to offer a single payment service while others like Instavolt allow you to tap and pay with a credit card.