Guide to Electric Car Charging Costs | Select Car Leasing
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Guide to Electric Car Charging Costs

The secret to low-cost electric motoring is knowing when and where to charge your vehicle's battery.

Charging at home on an EV-friendly tariff is usually the best solution to securing the greatest savings. If you lease an efficient all-electric vehicle, you can reduce your annual petrol/diesel fuel bill by £100s via home charging.

This guide also covers typical electric car charging costs when you're out and about at supermarkets, gyms, fast food joints, and on those longer trips at rapid chargers.

How Do I Keep My Electric Car Charging Costs Down?

Looking just at fuel, the average petrol/diesel car costs about 20p per mile to run. But for the average fully electric car, the electricity cost per mile is roughly 3p if you charge at home on a cheap, overnight tariff.*

Even charging on a normal home tariff protected by the Energy Price Guarantee at 34p per unit, the cost per mile is only 10p or so in an EV.* See our interactive Fuel Cost Calculator to model your own situation.

That’s a massive saving over petrol and diesel cars. 10,000 miles in a petrol/diesel vehicle would cost you about £2,036 a year at current rates, whereas it can be as low as £286 in an EV when charging at home off-peak.*

In our easy to understand guide to EV charging costs below, we explain everything you need to know to secure the absolute lowest cost of electric motoring:

  1. Types of Electric Car: Which EVs offer the best savings?
  2. Home Electricity Tariffs: How can I reduce my fuel costs the most?
  3. Smartphone Apps & Electricity Tariffs: Which technology is best?
  4. Costs When Charging Away From Home: How much do I pay?
  5. Rapid DC Chargers: Available networks & payment methods

* All figures are based on the following assumptions on 15 November 2022: EV efficiency of 3.5 miles per kWh; off-peak charging rate of 10p per kWh; petrol/diesel efficiency of 39.5 mpg; petrol/diesel cost of £1.7695 a litre.

#1 Types of Electric Car: Which EVs offer the best savings?

To achieve the best savings, you should lease a 100% electric car known as a ‘BEV’, or Battery Electric Vehicle. These have large batteries which you plug in to charge.

The next best type of electric car for fuel savings is a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle or ‘PHEV’. These have a smaller battery which means you can’t get as much low-cost electricity into them. If you generally drive no more than about 30 miles in a PHEV per day, you can still make very good fuel savings. If you drive more than 30 miles a day in a PHEV, the internal combustion engine will kick in and you will be back to more expensive petrol costs.

The third type of electric car is a conventional Hybrid Electric Vehicle or 'HEV', also known as a Self Charging Hybrid. Unfortunately, these have tiny batteries and you can’t plug them in. The upshot? You don’t benefit from low electricity prices to fuel your car. You’ll be visiting the petrol station just as regularly.

#2 Home Electricity Tariffs: How can I reduce my fuel costs the most?

If you run an energy tariff comparison on websites such as Moneysupermarket or, you are often presented with a bewildering array of results. And working out how your electric car fits into the overall picture is even more confusing.

What do you need to bear in mind? If you have just one flat rate tariff for 24 hours a day, then you can charge your car at any time. It's very convenient and you don't have to plan ahead.

Alternatively, you can choose a dual rate tariff which will give you a higher day rate and a lower night or off-peak rate. In this case, you would set your electric car, or charging point, on a timer to charge during the lower rate period.

Dual Rate Example

Let’s assume you drive 20,000 miles per year. In a petrol/diesel car, that will cost you roughly £4,073 per year in fuel at current rates. The exact cost depends on how many miles to the gallon your car is capable of and the price of petrol (we have assumed 39.5 mpg and £1.7695 a litre).

In a pure electric car (BEV), those 20,000 miles equate to about 5,714 kWh or units of electricity (assuming a battery/motor efficiency of 3.5 miles per kWh). If you always charge your car at night on an off-peak rate of say 10p, the 5,714 kWh will cost you only £571 a year. That’s a huge saving of about £3,502 per year on fuel – a reduction in costs of around 86%.

Flat Rate Example

Now let's imagine instead you are on a flat rate electricity tariff, like the government capped Energy Price Guarantee, and pay 34p per kWh, 24 hours a day. You can charge your EV whenever you want – the cost will be the same.

Those 20,000 miles in the example above will cost you £1,943. A reduction of about 52%. The savings are not as good as with the off-peak rate, but you still save roughly £2,130 per year on fuel.

Here’s a quick summary of what to do for maximum EV charging savings:

  1. Lease a 100% electric car (BEV)
  2. Sign up to a dedicated home EV electricity tariff
  3. Charge your car to coincide with the low rate (only required for dual rate tariffs)

Please note: Dual rate tariffs have both a higher day rate and a lower night/off-peak rate. While you can charge your EV more cheaply on the night/off-peak rate, make sure you are happy with the day rate as well before switching tariffs.

#3 Smartphone Apps & Electricity Tariffs: Which technology is best?

Unless you are on a flat rate tariff, it’s important to charge your electric car when you are on the lowest rate to achieve the most savings.

Alternatively, you might want to charge when the electricity from the grid is at its greenest in terms of CO2. You can automate this process in one of the following ways:

  • Most electric cars can be programmed to start and stop charging at specific times. You can set scheduling up sitting inside the car itself, or via an app (if the manufacturer has provided this functionality).
  • Another approach is to program the charging point. You either use the charging point manufacturer app or log on to the manufacturer’s website to tell the charging point when you wish to charge your EV.
  • In addition, there are now a few specialist apps popping up that control the charging point or car either for maximum savings or best for the environment. One of the most versatile, easy to use apps we've come across is made by – it's also free.

Want to know more about the benefits of leasing an electric vehicle?

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#4 Costs When Charging Away From Home: How much do I pay?

If you don’t have off-street parking, you will need to charge your electric car away from home. Even if you do have a dedicated home charger, charging when out and about often makes sense.

Every month, more and more public EV charging points are being installed around the country at convenient locations. These so-called 'destination' chargers can be found at:

  • Supermarkets
  • Shopping centres
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels and B&Bs
  • Gyms
  • Company carparks
  • Public carparks
  • Etc.

The charging speed of most 'AC' destination chargers is similar to a home charger, namely 7.4 kW. You will also come across slower ones, around 3.6 kW, and even faster ones up to 22 kW, though your car’s electronics may not be able to accept a charge at such a fast rate.

Some of these chargepoints are completely free to use. For example, a supermarket might offer free EV charging to attract customers. If you spend an hour doing your shopping and sipping on a flat white, that’s an hour’s worth of free miles.

At other charging stations, you do have to pay. You may have to download an app to use the charger, or payment could be via contactless.

Public charger electricity tariffs vary considerably, especially at the moment when the energy markets are in flux. For example, at time of writing in November 2022, the popular Mer public charging network costs £39p per kWh to charge on its AC chargers (up to 22 kW).

#5 Rapid DC Chargers: Available networks & payment methods

Charging your electric car at a rate faster than 22 kW is known as 'rapid' charging or 'DC' charging. You often use rapid chargers when you go on a long trip and need to charge up quickly en route. Charging speeds can be 50 kW (common), 120-150 kW (becoming more common) or ultra fast 350 kW (less common).

There are various rapid charger networks to choose from. Here is a table showing the main companies (including some that offer slower charging stations as well), together with typical rates at time of writing (November 2022). Prices change frequently, so double-check with the network provider before you charge:

  • InstaVolt – 75p per kWh
  • Fastned – 73p per kWh
  • MFG EV – 79p per kWh
  • Osprey – 79p per kWh
  • Ionity – 69p per kWh
  • GeniePoint – 57-62p per kWh
  • Gridserve – 64-66p per kWh
  • Shell Recharge – 79-85p per kWh
  • BP Pulse – 69-79p per kWh

You may be able to get some of these rates down by 'subscribing' to the network – in other words you commit to a fixed monthly payment in return for lower charging rates.

With current high energy prices, it's clear that rapid charging is expensive. For example, based on charging exclusively on the Ionity network at 69p per kWh, the cost per mile is about 20p. That's similar to a petrol/diesel car.

Another option is to sign up with a network 'aggregator'. These companies amalgamate a number of the charging networks, giving you more geographical coverage. This helps to overcome the problem of having to have different apps and cards for different networks. You can also keep track of your charging costs more easily. The main aggregators are:

  • Zap-Pay
  • Bonnet
  • Paua
  • Electric Universe
  • Chargepass

For example, if you're with Paua, you can charge at any of the following networks: Osprey, Fastned, Mer, Ionity, Shell Recharge, GeniePoint, Connected Kerb, Alfa Power, and several others.

Bonnet has an interesting charging model. There are two main options:

  • Light Boost: pay £2 a month and get 10% off the standard cost of all the chargers in their network
  • Turbo Boost: pay £8 a month and get 15% off the standard cost of all the chargers in their network

In Summary

  • If you have a garage or driveway, and get a dedicated EV charging point installed, you can make significant savings in a 100% electric car (BEV) on a cheap electricity tariff.
  • Use apps to time your home charging to coincide with an off-peak rate and/or when grid energy is greenest.
  • Combine this low fuel cost with a competitive monthly lease payment, and you will enjoy low motoring costs, while helping the environment at the same time.
  • You can also make fuel savings in plug-in hybrids, PHEVs, but as the battery is much smaller than in a BEV, you can only have cheap electric driving for 30 miles or so.
  • If you need to charge in public, get to know where you can find free or lower-cost charging points.
  • Try to keep rapid DC charging to a minimum, as, at current electricity prices, the cost per mile is quite high.

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