RAC: Electric cars charging costs are rising – but not as fast as petrol costs

The average price to charge up an electric car using a publicly-accessible rapid charger in Britain has risen by more than a fifth since September due to soaring energy costs, yet it still remains far cheaper than filling a petrol or diesel car at the pump, a new analysis from the RAC has found.

Since the end of last summer, the average price for electric vehicle (EV) drivers using a public charge point has increased by almost 8p per kilowatt hour, meaning the average cost to complete an 80 per cent rapid charge for a typical family sized car with a 64kWh battery has risen from £18.81 to £22.81, the motoring insurer calculated.

The findings show that EV drivers are being impacted by the worsening cost of living crisis, which has seen the cost of gas and electricity rise to record levels over the past year.

However, with much of the rise in energy costs driven by expensive fossil fuels and the geopolitical scramble to reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas, inflation appears to have hit petrol and diesel drivers even harder.

RAC’s analysis shows that while it now costs on average 10p per mile to power up an EV at a rapid charger, this is still nearly half the cost per mile compared to filling a petrol-powered family car, the cost of which has risen from 15p per mile since the end of last September to around 19p per mile.

The cost of filling a 55-litre petrol tank in a family sized conventional car from zero to 80 per cent full has risen by a “huge” £14.50 since last September, from almost £60 to over £74, according to RAC. That is around £48 more expensive than charging up a similar sized EV to 80 per cent, it added.

The cost per mile for a similarly sized, diesel-powered car is even higher, at nearly 21p, according to RAC – although it stressed that EV drivers don’t get quite as many miles from an 80 per cent charge as drivers of fossil fuel cars from an equivalent fill-up of a tank.

RAC electric vehicle spokesperson Simon Williams said the analysis showed that while prices were rising for running cars of all types, it remained far cheaper to own and operate a battery vehicle.

“Just as the price that drivers of petrol and diesel cars pay to fill up at the pumps is driven by fluctuations in the world oil price, those in electric cars are affected by gas and electricity prices,” he explained. But while electric car drivers may not be immune from the rocketing price of wholesale energy – most notably gas, which in turn dictates the cost of electricity – there’s no doubting that charging an EV still represents excellent value for money compared to filling up a petrol or diesel car.”

However, EV drivers who charge up their cars at public chargers still face higher costs than those who do so at home where VAT does not apply. As such, RAC said EV drivers powering up their cars at public charge points – which it estimates could be around a third of all EV drivers – are being penalised by VAT, which risks putting off “huge numbers” of drivers from switching from petrol to electric.

Williams warned that for EV drivers who have no option of charging their car up saving at home, there is no opportunity for them to benefit from potentials, such as the growing availability of ‘time of use’ tariffs which offer cheaper energy for charging up battery cars overnight during times of lower demand on the grid.

“Right now, VAT on electricity from a public charger is levied at a rate four-times that applies to domestic electricity which makes it far more expensive to charge on-the-go than it should be,” said Williams. “We understand conversations have been had within government over this ‘no driveway premium’, but it’s time there was an acceptance that a VAT rate that’s more favorable to drivers who have their own off-street parking risks putting other drivers off making the switch. Given the cost-of-living crisis, it’s sure only fair that everyone pays the same level of VAT no matter where they buy their electricity from.”

In related news, there are growing concerns that the UK risks losing from the rapid shift to EVs worldwide, with Jaguar Land Rover reportedly in talks with battery manufacturers overseas such as Northvolt and SVolt Energy Technology to supply its zero emission vehicle manufacturing ambitions, according to Bloomberg.

Separate reports in the Telegraph This morning, meanwhile, also suggest Jaguar Land Rover is considering shifting its EV production plans overseas, unless the Indian-owned firm is offered taxpayer support to help build a UK-based gigfactory.

Technological innovation across the EV sector continues to thrive, however. Earlier this week, it emerged that a Tesla-led research group has developed an energy-dense EV battery which its scientists claim could potentially last for 100 years.

The team at the Tesla Advanced Battery Research division, which is run in partnership with Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, released a scientific paper this week setting out details of a nickel-based battery chemistry which could over a longer range compared to today’s conventional EV batteries, which also boasting a longer lifespan. Such a development could lead to lower costs and environmental impacts due to far fewer replacement battery, manufacturing and raw material requirements.

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