How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

It can be difficult to work out whether electric cars are right for you just yet. But firstly, how much does it actually cost? We’ll look over the aspects of an electric car and the cost of charging them. ​

Benefits of an electric car

There is quite a list of benefits to owning an electric car, whether you’re after the latest technology or saving your pennies, they can be a serious consideration for many.

Firstly, they’re tax-free! Gone will be the yearly or monthly bill for road tax. This may not seem like a big deal, but, it could save you around £155 a year which is £12.91 a month, or, if your car is more than £40,000 it could save £490 a year or £40.83 a month! They also benefit from free entry into low emission zones that have been cropping up in cities across the country, meaning the running costs for some are even lower! For those working in good ol’ London town, your electric car can save you £3,810 based on 254 working days, or combined with the ULEZ charge it could be an eye watering £6,985!

Next is one that is sometimes overlooked, but with more and more manufacturers creating electric cars and announcing dates for cutting off internal combustion cars, they are ever-changing and the competition is fierce and, with fierce competition comes innovation. In the last few years, we’ve seen huge advances in technology with options including cabin preconditioning where you can set the air con or heating before getting in the car.

Another benefit is the performance, with electric motors having instant torque, even the more budget friendly electric hatchbacks feel lightning fast navigating through city streets thanks to the pickup.

Sample electric car

For this article, we’ll be using the new BMW i4 as an example.

The i4 starts with the eDrive40, this model is powered by a single rear motor producing 340 horsepower and capable of propelling you to 62mph in a swift 5.7 seconds. It also has an 80kWh battery which gives the car the ability to travel up to 365 miles on a single charge. But, with a 200kw capable charger, you can charge from 10% to 80% in just 31 minutes.

BMW i4

What do the letters mean?

kWh or kilowatt-hour

This is a unit of measuring electricity so 1kWh = 1 unit of electricity. Just like in your house, if you have a smart meter, it will show you how many kWh you’ve consumed throughout the day.

kW or kilowatt

Now a kilowatt in electric car terms is the rate of charge, either the maximum a car can be charged by, or the maximum a car charger can output. For example, a typical wall box charger at home has an output of 7.4kW whereas a public fast charger can charge more than 200kW

Electric Mercedes-Benz

How to work out the cost to charge

Using the information above, we can work out how much it would cost to charge your car.

Charging at home

For example with our i4, the battery capacity is 80kWh, so, with the average cost of electricity in the UK being 28p per kWh at home, we would simply multiply the cost, by the size of the battery. So 28 x 80 would equal 2,240 pennies, divide by 100 and you’ll get £22.40.

Although you can improve this drastically by moving to an electric car favoured plan where electric costs can be as little as 4p per kWh between certain hours of the night. So that would mean to charge the same 80kWh battery would cost as little as £3.20.

How much does it cost to install an electric charger at home?

The cost of an electric charger can range from £500 to over £1,000. Now, while this may sound like a lot, many tariffs include deals, discounts or even completely waive the fee for electric chargers. The installation takes around three hours and involves mounting the box to the wall near where you park your car and connecting it to your electric supply.

Public chargers

The average cost of a public fast charger is around the 50p mark. So with that, to charge our BMW i4, we’d be looking at 50 x 80 which would be 4,000 pennies, so £40 for a full charge.

However, it is worth shopping around as each supplier will have a different cost and offer memberships that will lower the price even further. Even small changes make a big difference, for example, if the cost was 40p per kWh, the total cost would be £32.