Electric vs combustion: How rising EV charging prices are tainting its affordability image

1st February 2023
Harry Fowle

As recent price trends continue, EV charging has been found to cost almost £10 more than filling up a traditional petrol car.

Analysis by motoring organisations in January has shown that the cost of charging EVs has soared, largely driven by rising energy prices caused by current geopolitical issues such as the war in Ukraine and Russian sanctions. This has resulted in a climate that could leave EV consumers worse off than if they had stuck to their old petrol vehicles.

Motorists that utilise rapid charge points during longer journeys are being charged £10 more on average than those filling up their car with a full tank of petrol. Beyond just the uptick in rapid charge point costs, recent research conducted by the AA has revealed that even recharging an electric car with a slow public charge may cost EV consumers more per mile when compared to comparable petrol cars during peak hours.

These peak rates are a relatively new addition to the EV market, a result of current energy concerns. Ubitricity, the UK’s largest operator of public charge-points, is one of many companies utilising them to manage new costs.

Given the not-so-distant spike in fuel prices seen during 2022, which saw many motorists touting it was the time to switch to electric, it comes as a shock to many that the ‘more affordable’ electric option is in fact surpassing traditional costs. “While pump prices are falling, electricity prices are going in the other direction, but we are hopeful prices could tail off later this year,” commented Jack Cousens, the AA’s Head of Roads Policy, and Recharging.

A major concern that arises from this news is what it could mean for the Government’s target of reaching net zero CO2 come 2050. If electric cars become more expensive to run than traditional petrol or diesel combustion alternative, will motorists really want to switch?

During their research, the AA compared a typical example of your average petrol car, a 1.2L petrol Vauxhall Corsa with its direct electric alternative, the e-Corsa. It was found that the petrol Corsa would set its owner back around 14.45 pence per mile whereas the e-Corsa charge would set its owner back 16.18 pence per mile on even a slow charge. Whilst the difference may seem minimal at first, per mile means it rapidly adds up when it comes to a full refuel or charge.

When asked for a comment on the implementation of peak and off-peak charging times Mr Cousens explained: “We completely understand why this has been introduced as it allows the supply of electricity to remain constant throughout the day while ensuring drivers don’t overstay their welcome.”

He went further on the topic to say: “However the price gap between the two is staggering. Much like refilling a petrol or diesel car, drivers should check the rates they could be paying before plugging in.”

When factoring all the ways EV consumers can go about charging their vehicles, AA analysis found that the cheapest method is to plug in at home. Due to the Government’s energy price cap, it could mean that the cost of topping up could be as little as 7.64 pence per mile.

As 2035 and the policy of banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars creeps into view, could these increased costs become a reality for all motorists?

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