The cost of charging an electric car from public charging points has increased by 50 percent in just eight months, according to the RAC. The organisation’s Charge Watch initiative, which tracks charging prices for those who are not members of a charging network, found the cost of using public rapid chargers has rocketed, but those who charge at home “still get great value”.

Charge Watch’s latest quarterly figures, published this week, show it now costs an average of 70.32p per kilowatt hour to use a rapid charger (with an output between 50 kW and 100 kW) on a pay-as-you-go basis. That’s up from 44.55p in May and 63.29p in September.

As a result, the RAC says charging a 64 kWh battery to its rapid- or ultra-rapid-charging limit of 80 percent would cost an average of £36. And the price of using the fastest chargers, with outputs in excess of 100 kW, is even more costly at an average of 74.79p per kilowatt hour. The RAC reckons drivers of vehicles with 64 kWh batteries will pay £38.29 to charge to 80 percent.

2023 MG MG4 Electric in European specification exterior charging port door open

However, those who can charge at home are paying significantly less. Charging a 64 kWh battery to 80 percent at home costs an average of £17.87, despite the record high energy prices. Compared with those who charge at ultra-rapid chargers, that’s a difference of more than £20 per charge.

Perhaps more worryingly, though, it seems those who have to charge away from home and without using a charge point membership are now paying much the same as drivers of petrol vehicles. The RAC estimates an 80 percent charge of a 64 kWh battery provides around 188 miles of range, at a cost of 20p per mile for those using rapid chargers. In comparison, a petrol car achieving 40 mpg costs 17p per mile in fuel.

Woman refuelling at petrol station

Of course, those figures only apply when charging away from home and when using a network of which the driver is not a member, which will likely be a rare occurrence for many. However, the RAC says the narrowing difference in fuel costs will see some drivers stick with petrol and diesel cars, and the government should cut VAT on charging to reduce the cost for motorists.

“For drivers to switch to electric cars en masse, it’s vital that the numbers stack up,” said the RAC’s electric vehicle (EV) spokesperson Simon Williams. “In time, the list price of new electric models will come down but charging quickly has also got to be as affordable as possible.

“It continues to be the case that those who can charge at home or at work and who don’t use the public rapid charging network very often get fantastic value – even given the relatively high domestic energy prices right now. Sadly, the same can’t be said for people who either can’t charge at home or at work, or who regularly make longer journeys beyond the range of their cars. There’s no question they have to pay far more, and in some cases more than petrol or diesel drivers do to fill up on a mile-for-mile basis.

“As last week’s new car registration figures showed, the demand for EVs is clearly there but it’s vital this is sustained. Our concern is that the extremely high energy prices, which are already making people’s domestic energy bills so high, have the effect of putting people off using public EV chargers of all speeds altogether. Cutting the level of VAT on electricity sold at public chargers to five percent to match what people pay at home would be one way of keeping prices under control and would show the government remains committed to doing everything it can to get more drivers to go electric.”

Charging logo on asphalt (image source: own photo by Stefan Leichsenring)