Tips and advice

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

How much it costs to run an electric car, how long EVs take to charge and where you can do it

How much does it cost to charge an EV

The ban on the sale of brand new petrol and diesel-powered cars due in 2030 may already have you thinking about switching to an electric vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in the near future. But how much do EVs cost to charge in the UK and how much could you save by making the switch to an electric car now?

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There are many ways to charge an electric car and the cost depends on charging speed, the time of day you’re charging it, which charging network you use and the type of subscription you have with any given charging service. The time it takes to charge also depends on the electric car you drive and the size of its battery.

Charging an electric car at home

Three-pin plug

You can charge your electric car with a conventional three-pin plug at home. It will take a long time because the power from a domestic wall socket is relatively low, so it’s best reserved for overnight charging and cars with reasonably modest battery sizes.

In general, it costs around 14p per kWh, meaning it would cost you £6 and take 13 hours to charge a 4 kWh Nissan LEAF (one of the most common electric cars around). Importantly, if you charged the same car at night, the cost is generally lower because of off-peak tariffs, so the same charge could cost around £4.

With more and more people making the switch to EVs, many energy companies are now offering tailor-made tariffs with the extra energy consumption from charging your car in mind. For this reason, it’s worth shopping around or asking your energy provider what deals they can provide. EV forums often discuss which tariffs are cheapest, with owners sharing their experiences.

Home wallbox charger

A much faster option is a wall box charger, offering speeds of around 7kW, which can give most EVs a full charge in around six hours. The government currently offers a grant of up to 75% (up to a maximum of £350) towards the price of a wallbox charger. After the initial installation, you can charge your car in half the time it takes with a three-pin plug. Some manufacturers also offer special deals, such as a discounted – or even free – wallbox, sometimes also including installation.

Public electric car chargers

Public EV charge point

The cost of charging your car in public depends on the network but we’ll take one of the biggest suppliers, BP Pulse (formerly known as Polar), as an example.

If you sign up to the BP Pulse subscription service, you pay a monthly fee of £7.85 (with the first three months free) for access, including a discount on the cost per kWh to use their charging stations. The faster the charging speed, the higher the cost per kWh:

  • Fast points: 28p/kWh
  • Rapid points: 32p/kWh
  • Ultra-rapid 150 kW points: 38p/kWh

You can also use a non-membership app service to pay as you go by loading a minimum credit of £20 with the following costs:

  • Fast points: 33p/kWh
  • Rapid points: 38p/kWh
  • Ultra-rapid 150 kW points: 44p/kWh

BP Pulse also offers a contactless card payment that allows you to pay without using the app or having a subscription, and the rates are as follows:

  • Fast points: 35p/kWh
  • Rapid points: 40p/kWh
  • Ultra-rapid 150 kW points: 50p/kWh

Charging networks and independent websites like Zap Map offer Electric car charging cost calculators, which can make it easier to work out how much public charging will cost you.

Costs of motorway charging

The Gridserve Electric Highway network has charge points at many service stations across the whole of the UK’s motorway system. There’s no membership fee and the cost to charge your electric car is 30p/kWh.

Contactless payment cards are accepted at the latest upgraded Gridserve charging points but for older systems you’ll need to download a smartphone app. 

Using a 50kWh rapid charger, you could fully charge a Nissan LEAF in approximately 50 minutes at a cost of £12 – enough time to sit down for a bite to eat at a roadside cafe while you wait.

Check out our complete guide to electric car charging stations...

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