RAC Charge Watch: The cost of charging an electric car at a public charger

RAC Charge Watch: The cost of charging an electric car at a public charger
RAC Charge Watch logoCharge Watch is the RAC's initiative that monitors the average cost of charging an electric car ('EV') on a pay-as-you-go, non-subscription basis at a public rapid or ultra-rapid charger. It tracks price changes over time to make sure drivers get a fair deal.

More drivers than ever are looking to make the switch to electric vehicles in the run-up to the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans. Yet as many as one-in-three households are likely to be unable to charge an electric vehicle at home, meaning a large number of drivers will rely on using public chargers away from home. This is why having an affordable, reliable and fit-for-purpose network of chargers across the UK is so important.

The RAC has run Fuel Watch for many years to ensure drivers pay a fair price at the pumps. Charge Watch aims to do the same for drivers of electric cars who want to pay to use the fastest public charge points without a subscription, and without having to sign up to a particular operator. The RAC is also a founding supporter of the FairCharge campaign.

Average public charging costs for electric cars

The UK has a myriad of charging point operators which run chargers of differing speeds, from so-called 'fast' devices to 'ultra-rapid' devices which can deliver charges up to 350 kilowatts (kW). RAC Charge Watch focuses only on prices at rapid and ultra-rapid chargers, as increasingly these will be the chargers drivers rely on to complete long journeys or to run an EV if they aren't able to charge at home. The importance of rapid chargers was emphasised by the Government in April 2022 when it announced plans to ensure these chargers are working for drivers 99% of the time.

Below are the latest average costs as analysed by the RAC, in pence per kilowatt hour (ppkWh)

Average cost to charge an electric car to 80%

As electric cars only allow rapid charging to 80% to protect the health of the battery, RAC Charge Watch calculates the cost of charging from 0% to 80%. While electric car battery sizes vary, we use a 64 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery for the basis for all cost calculations as it is an average of several popular family-sized models on sale in the UK today. Rapid charging a 64kWh battery to 80% requires 51.2kW of electricity. At a price of 32p per kWh for a rapid charge in March 2021 - the first month the RAC collected data - the cost of an 80% charge would be just over £16. This would give the driver a range of around 225 miles.

Below are the latest average costs:

Average cost per mile

To help put the cost of a rapid charge into context, we've also calculated an average cost per mile of driving an electric car and compared this to a per-mile cost of driving a petrol or diesel car. 

Electric car calculations are based on a car's assumed efficiency of 4.4 miles per kWh (as with miles per gallon in a petrol or diesel vehicle, an EV's efficiency is affected by a range of different factors including driving style). Petrol and diesel calculations are based on a car averaging 40 miles per gallon, equivalent to 8.81 miles per litre, with per litre costs taken from RAC Fuel Watch.

RAC and FairCharge

FairCharge campaign logoAs well as taking the lead when it comes to supporting drivers in moving to electric vehicles, the RAC is a founding backer of the FairCharge campaign, led by transport campaigner and automotive journalist Quentin Willson. FairCharge exists to to speed up the switch to electric cars by removing many of the barriers currently facing drivers, and to push key EV issues to the forefront of the political agenda.

Find out more about FairCharge and show your support for the campaign.

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