Following on from the recent announcement that Ecotricity has started charging for use of its rapid charger network, Zap-Map has taken a look at rapid charging costs across the UK.
There are a number of different factors to include when analysing rapid charging costs and it is impossible to bring them all together into one succinct message. To find out how much it costs to charge at a rapid charging point in the UK, you will have to go and find out specifically what it costs at that individual point, since there are no hard and fast rules for the lot.
Even so, Zap-Map has taken the most general prices and put them together in the below guide, to give a rough overview of rapid charging costs across the main three rapid charge networks – Ecotricity’s Electric Highway, Charge Your Car, and Chargemaster’s Polar Plus.
As you can see, despite some EV drivers very unhappy at the new Ecotricity costs, they are broadly in line with the other two main rapid charging networks. There is the fact that Ecotricity has a monopoly on UK motorway and main trunk road sites though which makes the network more valuable – and hence more costly – for some users than others.
When calculating these figures, there were a number of assumptions that had to be made. Firstly that the rapid charging unit charges at maximum power all the time – which simply isn’t the case. Some points aren’t able to charge at the full 50kW DC or 43kW AC for a variety of reasons but – like working off official CO2 emissions and MPG figures for petrol or diesel cars – there has to be a starting point somewhere, so we started there.
As a car’s battery nears capacity the charge point’s power output begins to drop too. There is also the assumption that each car started its 80% rapid charge from zero miles remaining and that each vehicle still has its full 100 per cent battery capacity rather than being an older model. Obviously only a few charges will be made with the battery empty and it is almost impossible to work out costs for every rapid charging scenario, since the number of variables created by individual car and charge points are enormous. There are too many imponderables to consider, so we focused on what information can reasonably be relied upon.
On top of the vaguaries of vehicles, there those of charging networks too. Ecotricity is the most consistent of those reported on, at a charge of £6 for each 30 minute session at any of its rapid chargers. Despite this clear messaging, there are a couple of caveats. Ecotricity energy customers for example still get free rapid charging, though even this isn’t as simple as a one sentence statement. Those customers need to get both electricity and gas supplied by Ecotricity, and there is a maximum limit of 52 free charges per year – after that the £6 per session cost comes back in. Prices in the image are for non-Ecotricity customers.
Charge Your Car prices vary dramatically depending on location. This is because prices are set by the point’s owner which joins the CYC network. A cursory glance around the different CYC prices shows that it could cost £4.50 for the first hour’s charge, and then £5 for each hour after that; £3.50 for the first 10 minutes followed by 25p per minute; 25p per minute with a minimum charge of £2.50; £4 for the first hour and then £12 after that; or 15p per kWh.
That list is by no means exhausted either – and that also excludes the fact that some points are free to use. CYC points in Scotland are all free for example thanks to government backing, but there are a number available in England too.
Chargemaster is potentially more confusing still, simply by offering both a subscription service – Polar Plus – and a pay-as-you-go set-up – Polar Instant. Although it’s good that the network can be accessed by both members and casual users, it immediately gave two different sets of information to work with, so we stuck with the Polar Plus set-up for sake of simplicity, though even this brought its own pitfalls.
For example, CYC charges £20 per year for an RFID card – a one off annual payment that can almost be forgotten about for 12 months. We didn’t include it in the cost of the CYC prices for example. Polar Plus users however pay a subscription of £7.85 per month, which needs to be factored in to the cost per kWh. However, if for example a Polar Plus member rapid charges 10 times a month rather than twice during the same time, they are instantly getting their electricity at a cheaper rate per kWh. Again an assumption had to be made and we went for weekly and fortnightly rapid charging as an average.
Also, though most use of rapid chargers for Polar Plus members is priced at 9p per kWh excluding the subscription rate, there are some Chargemaster rapid chargers that are free to use. Many have a £1.20 connection fee too, while figures are further complicated with a free six months subscription for new customers. We have factored in the connection fee, cost per charge of 9p per kWh, and added either the two or four times per month rapid charge value, but ignored the free six months’ subscription.
There are other networks too that offer rapid charging such as ChargePoint Genie. However, although these are worth looking at, it was decided to focus on the three largest rapid charge network providers in the UK. There is also Tesla’s Supercharger network which is free to use for Tesla owners.
The result of collating this information is a stronger sense than ever that a simplified payment structure needs to be implemented to make life easier for EV drivers and encourage non-EVers to switch to plug-in motoring.
The guide should hopefully act as an interesting basic analysis piece, though if you are more interested in specific costs, you can find rapid charging points by using the Zap-Map filters.