Last updated on June 16, 2022
Due to the declining costs of battery packs, increases in public charging infrastructure, and investment in electric vehicle (EV) development, more and more people today are considering buying an EV than ever before. But before many invest, they want to know how much it costs to charge an EV. In this blog post, we aim to answer that question as best we can.
There are many different factors that contribute to the cost of EV charging. For instance, one of the biggest cost differentiators is whether you’re charging at home, at a public charging station or at a fast charging station. Other factors include what kind of vehicle you’re charging, how full the vehicle is currently, and the time of day you charge.
That’s a lot to process, and you probably didn’t expect such a complicated and long-winded answer. So, before we get into the why and the how, we’ve gathered the average cost of charging four different size vehicles (with battery packs from small to large), at three different charging stations so that you can get a somewhat accurate estimate of how much it would cost to charge an EV.
Cost to charge electric car
cost per kWh: $0.15
|Public/workplace charging cost per kWh: $0.30 + $1 charging fee
cost per kWh: $0.50 + $2 charging fee
Important: Prices for each charging segment are approximations based on our experience and do not represent a real-life situation. These calculations are based on a median guesstimate charging tariff and represent the cost to charge from zero to 100 percent.
The rise of electric mobility
As prices continue to fall and availability of EVs increases, the uptake of electric mobility is only expected to accelerate. While today there are only around 10 million EVs on the road today, by 2030, experts expect that number will be over 190 million. And they all need to be charged.
The three main ways to charge a vehicle are home charging, public/workplace charging and fast or DC charging. With so many charging options available, it’s likely that drivers are going to opt for a mix of available options.
Data from the US government suggests that a further makeup will likely reflect 81 percent residential, 14 percent workplace/public level 2 charging, and 5 percent fast charging. These statistics align with our research in Europe where 64 percent of electric/plug-in hybrid cars are currently being charged at home.
What is for sure is that as the electric mobility transition accelerates and more public and fast charging stations become available, more people are comparing gas cars to electric cars and questioning which one is more beneficial and cost efficient. Before taking the plunge into electric mobility, there are a few differences which are important to take into account.
Electric cars vs. gas cars
How much it costs to fill a gasoline vehicle depends on the price of gas and the size of the tank. Similarly, driving an EV depends on the price of electricity and the size of the battery.
An EV’s battery is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) which can be seen as the electric equivalent of a measurement of fuel (1L or 1 gal) and usually range from 40 kWh on the small side to 100 kWh for larger vehicles. The smaller the battery, the shorter the range, but the faster it is to reach a full state of charge (SoC).
Check out this page to find out what the battery capacity is for your electric vehicle.
Fuel economy for electric cars
How much both gas and electric cars cost to drive depends on the fuel economy of the vehicle. Just like gasoline cars, if your vehicle uses up more fuel, it will cost more. And as the saying goes, “what gets measured, gets managed.” So how do you measure the fuel economy for electric vehicles?
Traditionally, fuel economy was measured in miles-per-gallon or liters-per-100 kilometers and were split depending on whether you’re driving in the city or on highways. For EVs, there are similar equivalents for both miles and kilometers:
- In the US, an EV’s fuel economy is measured in miles-per-gallon-equivalent (MPG-e) and is based on the number of miles that the vehicle does on a single kilowatt-hour (kWh).
- In Europe, the EV fuel economy equivalent is based on the number of kilometers that the vehicle does on a single kilowatt-hour (kWh)—often referred to as kWh/100km.
- In the UK, fuel economy is measured miles per kWh. A common reference is somewhere between 25-35 kWh per 100 miles.
When it comes to how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle, knowing which of these three numbers are important for your situation is integral. However, a few more factors come into play when calculating charging costs for individual charging sessions, including the three different levels of EV charging, the difference between AC and DC charging, and how full the vehicle’s battery is when beginning the charging session.
EV home charging cost
The ability to charge an EV at home is undoubtedly one of the most attractive reasons for those considering purchasing one. You can literally come home from work, plug your vehicle in, and wake up the next morning with a full battery. Besides the convenience factor, home charging is also the most economical way to charge your EV.
With an AC charging station (Level 2), you will typically pay the lowest price per kWh, as you’re taking energy directly from the grid. Because there is no “middle-man” taking a cut for the sale of your electricity, you’ll simply pay the price you pay for electricity at your home.
Costs to charge an electric car and your electricity bill
The first number you need to know when calculating how much it costs to charge at home is how much you pay per kWh from your electricity provider.
In the US, the average price per kWh is around $0.13 while in the EU, that number is comparatively higher at around €0.23. However, that number fluctuates from state to state or from province to province, so it’s best to check your electricity bill to get the exact number. For example, the cost per kWh jumps to around €0.33 on average in Germany and is as high as $0.25 in California.
For a rough calculation on how much it costs to charge at your home, take the vehicle’s battery size and multiply it with the cost per kWh. For example, if a Tesla Model S’s battery size is 75 kWh and you pay $0.15 for electricity, it will cost $11.25 to charge your battery fully. However, this calculation is only meant as an example as it doesn’t take into account the battery’s current state of charge or the state of your battery in general.
Disclaimer: These prices may be higher due to the current energy crisis. However, the purpose of this article is giving a general overview of the electricity prices.
When is it the cheapest time to charge your electric car?
Additionally, electricity costs change at certain times of the day. During off-peak hours, not as many people are using electricity and it can be a lot cheaper. EV drivers can take off-peak hours to their advantage and reduce their overall charging costs.
Charge during low-peak electricity hours
Typically from 10 p.m. till 7 a.m., pricing during off-peak is at its lowest. According to one study, if you charge your vehicle at home during off-peak times, you’ll reduce your average charging cost by 24 percent.
These numbers depend on the country you live in, your car's charging capacity, the fees you pay to your energy supplier, and at which time you charge. Universally however, charging at night will save you money. For a specific example, in the UK, off-peak charging costs £0.09 per kWh ($0.12) whilst on-peak charging costs £0.20 ($0.27).
Disclaimer: These prices may be higher due to the current energy crisis. However, the purpose of this article is to highlight the cost-saving differences between these two ways of using electricity.
Many EV charging stations today come with a range of smart functionalities that can help you increase energy efficiency. For example, certain residential charging stations can make sure that your EV begins its charging session during off-peak hours. Check out this page for everything you need to know about charging an EV at home, including charging times, different kWh outputs, and the different charging station options available.
Public EV charging stations
To keep up with the number of EVs on the road, cities around the world are rolling out public charging stations. Public charging refers to any charging station that you may find on the streets or at public parking facilities like shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, as well as on the side of the highway. Public charging stations can be either Level 2 (AC) charging stations or Level 3 (DC fast charging) stations. However, for the purpose of this article, we’ve split them into two categories and will discuss them separately.
In most cases, public charging will be more expensive than home charging as the location sets the baseline cost of energy, and you pay for the service. That being said, public charging (AC) is often faster than charging at home. Charging tariffs can be based on one, or any number of the following factors:
- Connection fee: a fixed amount for each charging session.
- Energy fee: a certain amount per kWh consumed during the charging session.
- Time fee: a certain amount for the duration of the charging session.
Additionally, when you charge at a public charging station you also pay for the service. A service fee is set by electric mobility service providers (eMSPs) for handling the charging transaction.
Service fees can be either a fixed rate per charging session, a certain percentage of the session costs, or both, and is added to the total charging cost. As each charging provider can set different fees and structure their tariffs creatively, there is no universal or standard public charging fee. For example, at BP stations in the UK, there is a £7.85 ($10.83) monthly charge to use the service plus electricity usage while other eMSPs charge a certain fee per session.
Cost of charging your electric car at a public station
As public charging costs vary from provider to provider, it’s impossible to give you an exact answer in this case. However, we can give you a ballpark figure.
Generally speaking, however, public charging will always be more expensive than charging at home. One thing is for certain, public charging is still a lot cheaper than filling up your tank with gasoline.
EV fast charging stations
Fast charging, also known as Level 3 charging or DC charging is capable of charging a vehicle within minutes as opposed to hours. Fast chargers are significantly faster than regular AC charging stations and can deliver between 50 and 350 kWh.
As a result, charging a vehicle with DC charging can take between 15 minutes and 1 hour to charge most passenger electric vehicles up to 80 percent. The speed with which fast charging stations can deliver power to an EV makes them perfect for charging on the go locations like highway rest stops and fuel or service stations.
Fast charging station cost
DC fast charging is the most expensive public charging option and can double (or in some cases even triple) the cost per kWh. Essentially with fast charging, you’re paying for the convenience of charging your vehicle quickly—not dissimilar to the cost of groceries at convenience stores on the side of the highway or having them delivered to your doorstep.
The price difference, however, depends on the location which you charge and whether the charging station bills by the minute or by kWh. For instance:
- At Vattenfall’s public charging stations in the Netherlands, DC charging costs about €0.56/kWh.
- At BP Pulse PAYG in London, charging at 150kW costs about £0.50/kWh.
- In California, the average price for 350-kilowatt fast charging is $0.99 per minute.
You might notice that the price of fast charging is more comparable to the price of filling up with gas. For example, if you’re charging a vehicle with a bigger battery like a Tesla Model S (with a 75 kWh battery capacity) at $0.50 per kWh with a $2.00 charging fee, a full charge will cost roughly $40.
As with many additional services, DC fast charging is not an everyday occurrence; rather an on-the-go option to top-up when on longer journeys or when low on charge. As such, these higher charging costs don’t make up the lion's share of total charging costs for EV drivers.
Are electric cars cheaper than gas cars?
All in all, how much it costs to charge an electric car depends on a range of factors, such as the size of the car’s battery, the state of charge, at what time the vehicle is charging, and the type of charging station. However, regardless of charging costs for individual sessions, one thing is certain: charging an EV is usually a lot cheaper than filling a car with gasoline or diesel.
Read more about EV charging
Aside from the cost of charging an electric vehicle, there are many other aspects of EV charging that can be confusing to drivers considering switching to electric mobility. Read our free EV charging guide to learn everything you need to know before getting an electric car. From the time it takes to charge, average battery life, and how to extend it, to how the different types of electric car charging stations –and their cables– work in our thorough EV charging guide.