Electricity tariffs are the secret to securing the lowest possible cost of motoring in an electric car. If you lease the right type of electric car, and charge its battery overnight on an off-peak tariff, you can reduce your annual fuel bill by a staggering 90%.
So, if you currently spend £1,000 on petrol a year, you could be spending £100 a year on electricity in an EV. It’s that radical. Electricity tariffs are the key.
To put it another way: imagine you arrive at a petrol station and see the price per litre of unleaded is £1.20. You then drive to the next petrol station and the price is only 12p per litre. What a difference in price! That’s effectively what an electric car does – it allows you to save a fortune on fuel.
In our easy to understand guide to EV electricity tariffs below, we explain everything you need to know to secure the absolute lowest cost of electric motoring:
- Types of electric car: Which EVs offer the best savings?
- Home electricity tariffs: How can I reduce my fuel costs the most?
- Smartphone apps & electricity tariffs: Which technology is best?
- Costs when charging away from home: How much do I pay?
- Rapid charger tariffs: Available networks & payment methods
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 expensive petrol costs.
The third type of electric car is a conventional Hybrid Electric Vehicle or 'HEV'. 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.
Below we work through some examples to illustrate savings in a pure electric car (BEV).
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 Confused.com, you are often presented with a bewildering array of results.
The best electric car tariff usually has two rates: a day rate at about 15p per kWh and a night rate, sometimes as low as 5p per kWh. The trick is to do as much car charging at the 5p rate as possible.
Let’s assume you drive 10,000 miles per year. In a petrol car, that will cost you roughly £1,200 per year in fuel (the exact cost depends on how many miles to the gallon your car is capable of and the price of petrol).
In a pure electric car (BEV), on average, those 10,000 miles equate to about 2,500 kWh of electricity. If you charge your car at night on an off-peak rate of 5p, the 2,500 kWh will cost you only £125 a year (2,500 kWh x 5p). That’s a massive saving of £1,075 per year on fuel – a reduction in costs of around 90%.
Even if you charged your car exclusively at the 15p day rate – three times higher than the night rate – your annual electricity bill for car charging would still only be £375. That’s £825 less than your normal bill of £1,200 in a petrol car.
Here’s a quick summary of what to do for maximum savings:
- Lease a 100% electric car (BEV)
- Sign up to one of the dedicated EV electricity tariffs
- Charge overnight at the cheap, off-peak rate
Flat rate tariffs
Instead of two different electricity rates, some electricity suppliers offer just one rate for the whole 24 hours.
How would that affect electric car charging? Basically it means you can charge at any time of the day or night. The cost to charge your car is the same. You don’t need to plan ahead and work out the best charging slot.
3. Smartphone apps & electricity tariffs: Which technology is best?
Unless you are on a flat rate tariff, it’s obviously 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:
- Nearly all 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 both control the charging time slot – for either maximum savings or best for the environment – and also help you link up with the most suitable energy provider. It may be that your current electricity supplier doesn’t have a very good rate for EVs. By switching, you can very likely unlock greater savings.
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 charger at home, charging when out and about is very convenient.
Public charging points are being installed at a rapid pace all around the country. You will find them at:
- Shopping centres
- Hotels and B&Bs
- Company carparks
- Public carparks
The charging speed of most of these 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. Public charger electricity tariffs vary considerably. You may have to download an app to use the charger, or payment could be via contactless. The rate per kWh of electricity consumed will generally be in the 5p to 30p range.
5. Rapid charger tariffs: Available networks & payment methods
Charging your electric car at a rate faster than 22 kW is known as rapid charging. You often use rapid chargers when you go on a long trip and need to charge up quickly en route.
There are various rapid charger networks to choose from. Here is a table showing the main companies, how you can pay, together with charges:
If you have a garage or driveway, and get a dedicated EV charging point installed, you can make enormous savings in a 100% electric car (BEV).
Charging at home overnight on a cheap, off-peak electricity tariff, you can drive your ‘fuel’ cost down to an incredible 1-2p per mile in an electric vehicle.
Combine this low fuel cost with a low monthly lease payment, and you will enjoy the lowest possible motoring costs, while helping the environment at the same time.
There are already plenty of models available: from the entry-level MG ZS EV and the ever-popular Nissan Leaf to the super fast Tesla Model 3 and the luxurious Audi e-tron. See our car leasing special offers page for the latest deals.
Are you enjoying our regular guides to the world of EV? If so, please share this link with friends and family – anyone who might be tempted by this environmentally friendly mode of transport. Tune in next week for our next instalment on…you’ll have to wait and see!