Currently reading: How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
The details of EV charging and the cost of it can seem complicated at first but this guide spells it out clearly

If you’ve been considering a move away from petrol or diesel to an electric car, you may well be wondering how much it costs to charge an EV.

It’s a good question because there are huge differences in the cost of charging an EV at home compared with at a public charge point. Drill down and these costs change depending on what sort of domestic energy tariff you're signed up to and which sort of home charger you use. As for public chargers, what speed of charging and which of the many providers you choose affects how much you pay at these places. They may be convenient but this convenience comes at a price.

Government tax also has a bearing on how much you pay. For example, using a public charger you’ll pay 20% VAT compared with 5% charging with domestic electricity at home. 

It's all quite complicated but we make sense of it here.

How much will it cost to charge my car at home?

The vast majority of electric car drivers charge at home, where it's not only cheaper to do so but also far more convenient. Even with the recent hikes in electricity prices, you will still be saving cash on every refill compared with a traditional petrol or diesel car.

For example, charging a Kia Niro EV with a 64.8kWh battery and a claimed 285-mile range at home will cost around £15.88 for a full charge, based on the current capped tariff of 24.5p (£0.245 x 64.8kWh). This figure assumes you're charging an empty battery to a little short of 100% but in reality you're likely to be charging from around 20% to 80%, the maximum you should charge to preserve battery cell life. Sticking with a full 0-100% charge at £15.88, though, gives a cost per mile of 5.5p. 

Some energy providers offer special tariffs for electric car owners, providing even cheaper rates for overnight charging. Octopus’s Intelligent scheme, which works with select EVs (or any EV connected to an Ohme ‘smart’ wallbox) gives six hours of electricity per night at 7.5p per kWh. If you have a 7kW charger, that means you could recharge almost two-thirds of the Niro EV's battery for just £3.15. If you’re able to complete a full 64.8kWh charge solely on that off-peak rate, it would cost just £4.86 – a fifth of the cost of charging it at the capped energy price of 24.5p.

Moreover, if your home has solar panels, some chargers can use this ‘free’ energy to charge your EV, further reducing bills. There are even trials running for bi-directional charging that allows you to ‘sell’ any surplus power from your EV back to the grid.

Home charging for company car drivers is more complex, owing to the need to prove how the energy has been used. However, drivers can claim 9p per mile for business trips in electric vehicles, which is the easiest way to avoid administrative headaches.


Read our review

Car review

The most affordable Tesla yet is tempting on the face of it, so should you yield or resist?

Back to top

Is charging an electric car cheaper than fuelling a petrol or diesel car?

VW ID3 at Ionity charger

Just as fuel prices vary between fuel stations and are much higher at motorway service stations, so EV charger prices vary widely between locations and providers. Other variables include whether you're a member of a provider's charging scheme and how fast the charger is. On that point, a fuel pump dispenses petrol or diesel at a fixed speed, whereas chargers range in 'speeds' from 3kW to more than 350kW. And then you've the fact that you can charge at home and take advantage of much lower tariffs. In fact, if you have solar panels, you need pay nothing at all to charge your EV.

So it's complicated, which is why we'll reduce it to its simplest terms and refer to the AA's monthly EV Recharge report on average kerbside pubic charger tariffs. As this was written, its latest report dated May 2024 found that a Vauxhall Corsa Electric would cost 9.89p per mile in electricity from a slow 7kW charger compared with 13.69p per mile to fuel its petrol-powered sibling model. So a thumbs up for the EV. However, the gap narrows as charger speeds increase. For example, from a fast 8-22kW charger, electricity costs 12.36p per mile, from a rapid 23-100kW charger 14.83ppm and from an ultra-rapid charger 15.73ppm. 

It's charging at home where the savings are greatest. For example, in the case of the Kia Niro Electric in the previous question, we quoted a cost of 5.5p per mile charging it at home on the current capped electricity tariff of 24.5p per kWh. To refuel its sibling model the Niro Hybrid, which has an official combined consumption figure of 64.2mpg, at the average pump price for unleaded petrol of £6.79 per gallon it would cost 10.5p per mile – almost twice as much.

Charging becomes more expensive on a per-mile basis when you use public chargers located at hubs on A-roads and at motorway service stations, where you're paying for speed and convenience. The way to counter this, if it's offered, is to become a subscriber to take advantage of lower tariffs.

As for how the cost of charging an EV stacks up against running a diesel car, with diesel at £7.10 per gallon and assuming the car does 60mpg, its cost per mile is 11.8p – not much more than the Niro petrol hybrid in our example and much more than charging the Niro EV at home.

Back to top

How much will it cost to install a car charging point at home?

Home EV wallbox installation

It's possible to use the factory-supplied three-pin plug charger when refilling your EV's battery cells but charging times are lengthy and most manufacturers advise this method is for emergency use only. 

Either way, if you’re committed to EV ownership and you have access to a driveway or garage, it’s always best to use a dedicated wall-mounted unit that can charge at up to 7kW, which is more than twice as fast as the three-pin alternative.

There are a number of different manufacturers to choose from, plus a choice of tethered (with a charging cable permanently attached) or untethered (allowing you to choose different sockets and cables for different cars) layouts.

Regardless of which one makes most sense for your EV, you will need a qualified electrician to check your household wiring is up to the task and then to install the box.

Prices vary but you can expect to pay £500-£1000 for a smart home charger that will communicate with your phone, allowing you to control it remotely. In England, renters and flat owners qualify for the government's charge point grant, worth either £350 or 75% off the cost to buy and install a socket, whichever amount is lower.   

In Scotland, the government offers people living in qualifying rural areas and owners of used EVs purchased through its Used Electric Vehicle Loan scheme a grant worth £400. If you own a flat in a qualifying area or purchased your car through the loan scheme, you also qualify for additional funding. 

Meanwhile, keep in mind that if you're a home owner in a single-unit property and still haven’t bought your EV, a number of manufacturers are offering a free wallbox and installation when you buy one of their electric models.

How much will it cost to charge my EV at a public charging station?

Mercedes EQE motorway charging

This depends where you charge and what car you have because there are numerous options when it comes to public charging stations. For kerbside charging, there are four types of public chargers: slow, fast, rapid and ultra-rapid. 

Back to top

As of May 2024, to charge a Vauxhall Corsa Electric with a 50kWh battery from 0-80% will on average cost £17.60 using a slow charger, £22 using a fast charger, £26.40 using a rapid charger and £28 using an ultra-rapid charger, according to the AA. These prices are based on average tariffs sourced by the AA of 44p, 55p, 66p and 70p per kWh respectively.

Meanwhile, some supermarkets also offer public charging, meaning you can shop while you charge. For example, Tesco has partnered with Pod Point to offer 7kW charging at 44p per kWh, 22kW at 49p per kWh, 50kW at 62p per kWh and 75kW at 69p per kWh.

Elsewhere, you can find DC rapid chargers at charging hubs and on A-roads and motorways. At these, leading provider InstaVolt, for example, charges 85p per kWh on its rapid charger tariff, making it considerably more expensive on a pence-per-mile basis than a petrol car. 

If you frequently travel long distances, providers such as BP Pulse offer a subscription service with a monthly fee of £7.85, giving you discounted rates (the brand estimates a 20% saving compared with pay as you go) on many of its 9000 chargers plus free access to a handful of AC units. 

You’ll need a smartphone app to access the cheaper rates (or an RFID card for some of the older units), but once connected, you will be billed at 44p on the AC 7kW charger, 63p per kWh on the rapid AC 43kW/DC 50kW​ chargers and 69p on the ultra-fast DC 150kW-plus chargers. It’s also possible to use many of the chargers on a pay-as-you-go basis with a contactless bank card at a rate of 59p per kWh for 7kW AC chargers, 79p per kWh for 50kW and 85p per kWh for the 150kW-plus chargers.

Through its Recharge UK network, Shell is rolling out rapid 50kW and ultra-rapid 175kW chargers at its filling stations across the UK. These can be used on a contactless pay-as-you-go basis at a flat rate of 85p and 93p per kWh respectively. Its AC fast 7-22kW charger rate is 79p and its 5kW rate 51p. 

These prices remain unchanged if you sign up to the Shell Recharge account, which bills you monthly for your use but also allows you to use more than 23,000 chargers operated by other providers in the UK on Shell forecourts, at supermarkets including Waitrose and Aldi and on-street, plus 575,000 across Europe. For these chargers, slightly different tariffs apply.  At all charge points, you can pay with either a Shell Recharge card or via a contactless payment method. It’s worth noting there’s a £45 pre-authorisation requirement on your card each time you plug in. Shell claims all electricity for its chargers comes from renewable sources. 

Back to top

Teslas charging at Superchargers

Some hotels and shopping centres offer free charging to customers. The widespread use of smartphone apps for all providers makes it easy to see where the charging points are, how much they cost to use and whether they’re free, so you can easily tap into a provider that suits your needs and budget.

Many car manufacturers offer simplified charging by enabling access to numerous providers under their own charging schemes. For instance, Audi’s E-tron Charging Service account gives access to nearly 20 different energy firms and 75% of the UK's public charging points, while new E-tron models come with the choice of £500 worth of free charging or a free Ohme home charger or £500 off the vehicle's price. 

Tesla owners get their own dedicated rapid-charging Supercharger network of 1400 chargers plus a number of Destination fast chargers at locations such as hotels. Owners of a Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X registered before 2017 are eligible for free charging, while some owners received 6000 miles of free charging if they bought their cars between 15 December 2022 and 12 January 2023. 

Non-Tesla owners can also use the Supercharger network and in April 2024 the company reduced its prices for these people and allowed them to take out Tesla membership for £8.99 per month or £90 a year. With membership, non-Tesla owners pay as much for Supercharger power as Tesla owners. Tariffs change according to location and time of day but they range from 54p to 67p per kWh. 

Back to top

Tesla also charges ‘idle fees’ if you remain parked up once you have a full battery, to reduce how long it takes for others to get connected. If the Supercharger station is more than 50% full, you will be charged 50p for every minute you’re parked in a fully charged car, rising to £1 if the station is completely full.

If you need to charge an electric car at an apartment or flat and you don’t have access to a domestic wallbox, then the increasing number of lamp-post charging units will be of interest. Ubitricity, backed by Shell Recharge, has more than 7000 street-side chargers available, making it the biggest network in the UK.

With electricity trickling in at around 5.5kW, it’s not the fastest and you’ll pay 53p per kWh from 6am-11pm or 45p per kWh from 11pm to 6am. Chargers without smart charging attract a flat rate charge of 51p per kWh. There's also £25 pre-authorisation fee at all chargers to ensure you’ve got the funds to pay. However, the company recently dropped its 35p connection charge.

How much does motorway charging cost?

Gridserve Cornwall chargers

You will pay a little more to charge at a motorway service station, largely because most of the chargers there are fast or rapid units. 

In 2021, leading provider Ecotricity sold its Electric Highway network of chargers to Gridserve, which has since installed more than 400 new 350kW high-power chargers. It aims to install many more to reach the government's target of six at each motorway service station. Over the rest of the company's Electric Highway network, there exists the choice of both AC and DC charging, all with a 45-minute maximum use time. There are only a handful of the 22kW AC fast chargers left, and these cost 49p per kWh.  

The firm's rapid DC chargers offer 60kW and 350kW, each at a rate of 79p per kWh. Charging can be done on a pay-as-you-go basis at both the company's motorway services locations and Gridserve Forecourts, which are essentially stand-alone hubs on main trunk roads and provide amenities such as cafés and newsagents. Its pre-authorisation requirement is just £1, with the exception of Moto Rugby Services Electric Super Hub, where the fee is £40.

Back to top

Rival firm Ionity charges pay-as-you-go customers 74p per kWh but members of its Passport scheme pay 56p per kWh plus a £5.49 monthly subscription. Commercial tie-ins with EV manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz entitle drivers of these cars to lower rates. On the plus side, all of Ionity's chargers are capable of charging at up to 350kW.

James Disdale

James Disdale
Title: Special correspondent

James is a special correspondent for Autocar, which means he turns his hand to pretty much anything, including delivering first drive verdicts, gathering together group tests, formulating features and keeping topped-up with the latest news and reviews. He also co-hosts the odd podcast and occasional video with Autocar’s esteemed Editor-at-large, Matt Prior.

For more than a decade and a half James has been writing about cars, in which time he has driven pretty much everything from humble hatchbacks to the highest of high performance machines. Having started his automotive career on, ahem, another weekly automotive magazine, he rose through the ranks and spent many years running that title’s road test desk. This was followed by a stint doing the same job for monthly title, evo, before starting a freelance career in 2019. The less said about his wilderness, post-university years selling mobile phones and insurance, the better.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Geoff-R 23 November 2023

That £10K difference is roughly the cost of petrol to drive 60,000 miles. Add the extra depriciation and your up to the cost of petrol to drive 90,000 miles. Extra insurance costs, maybe a bit less on servicing. Put £10k in a savings acoount an that will earn you about £400 per year after tax. 

Add the cost of electric charging and you probably have to do well over 150,000 miles to break even.

Tell me if I'm wrong.


xxxx 23 May 2024

You're wrong. You've not done specifics, you forgot to mention taxation, better car etc.  As to the putting 10k into a saving account you'd get 400 back, you do realise inflation would negate that.

xxxx 23 May 2024

One more thing, compare a 29k base BEV Leaf against the base Corolla which is 30k. Not that simple is it.

scotty5 1 November 2023

I'd add to my last post that I passed a Reg Vardy garage today with ORA's being displayed at the entrance with large stickers showing special offers. It reminded me when I sold my old car to Vardy back in August, that garage too had Ora's outside.  I asked the sales guy what the cars were like, not that I was interested in buying one, and he said they can't shift them. Apparently Vardy regret taking on the franchise. He said it's hard shifting any used EV's. Aparently the prices of higher end EV Audi's were dropping like bricks. I think the top 10 highest depreciating cars in the UK were all EV's. 

xxxx 1 November 2023
scotty5 wrote:

Aparently the prices of higher end EV Audi's were dropping like bricks. I think the top 10 highest depreciating cars in the UK were all EV's. 

Not according to What Car 2023, 7 in the bottom 10 were EV's and not a single Audi BEV was in the list.

scotty5 1 November 2023

Not sure when the article was written but at current prices, the majority of public chargers work out more expensive than petrol so unless you have home use, the car will cost you £10k and then some!

And lets address the elephant in the room, that £10k difference. Not withstanding some EV's depreciating at eye-watering levels, even if they were depreciating at the same rate, an EV would loose more money. If a £30k petrol car looses 50% after 3yr, it's worth £15k. If a £40k EV looses 50% after 3yr it's worth £20k. There's £5k in depreciation alone you have to claw back.

And then there's the insurance...  and EV costs more to insure. You'd have to be doing HUGE mileages to claw back the extra outlay.

Has anyone actually done the sums or are they selective in which figures they chose to ignore to convince themselves EV is cheaper?