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Electric cars more expensive to run than petrol on long journeys

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Electric car drivers have seen the cost of a rapid charge – essential for long journeys – increase by nearly 60%, making them more expensive to run than petrol vehicles.

The cost of a rapid charge for an electric car soared 58% in just eight months last year, with it now costing an average 70.32p per kilowatt hour on a pay-as-you-go basis.

This is up from 44.55p last May and 63.29p in September.

It means drivers now pay £36 more to charge a typical family-sized electric car with a 64kWh battery to its 80% rapid or ultra-rapid limit – enough to cover around 188 miles.

According to The RAC, this is more than twice the cost of charging at home (£17.87), even though energy costs have soared.

Further, drivers relying on ultra-rapid chargers – which can charge cars in a matter of minutes – are paying an extra £38.29 today (to 80%) as these costs have risen from 50.97p in May to 74.79p now.

It means an ultra-rapid charge is £20.42 more expensive than charging at home.

Price premium

Drivers who need to use rapid public charge points, particularly for long journeys are paying a “huge premium” over those using slower chargers, according to motoring group, The RAC.

It said it can be more expensive for an EV driver to recharge quickly than it is for petrol and diesel drivers to refuel.

Drivers using rapid chargers pay 20p per mile for electricity, just 1p less than those using ultra-rapid chargers.

This is higher than the equivalent per mile rate for a petrol car which can achieve 40 miles to the gallon (17p), while it is on par with diesel at 20p per mile.

Call to cut VAT

The RAC and campaign group FairCharge are concerned that the higher costs associated with EVs – both list price and electricity charging – risks dissuading drivers from opting for them instead of petrol or diesel cars.

They noted that last month there was a record number of new electric car registrations but they are calling on the Government to cut the VAT rate charged on electricity bought at public EV chargers from 20% to 5%, mirroring the domestic VAT rate charged on household consumption.

They claim this would see the cost of rapid charging fall by 8.79p per kWh (to 61.53p), while ultra-rapid charging would come down by 9.35p to 65.44p.

‘Charging quickly has to be as affordable as possible’

RAC EV spokesman, Simon Williams, said: “For drivers to switch to electric cars en masse, it’s vital that the numbers stack up. 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.”

Founder of FairCharge, Quentin Willson, said the campaign group is concerned over the number of disadvantaged electric vehicle drivers who have no access to private parking and are therefore paying higher rates for public charging as well as the “added tax burden”.

Willson added: “This archaic VAT policy means that those without home charging pay four times the rate of tax as those charging at home – the Government should set this right, not simply out of sheer unfairness but also to ensure public charging remains an affordable option for all drivers as we seek to bring down air pollution and decarbonise our roads.”

Related: Where to charge your electric car for free