Is charging an electric car still cheaper than petrol?

To prevent UK motorists from falling for common charging myths the EV experts at GRIDSERVE have debunked six of the most common myths at the root of charge anxiety.

“It’s important that drivers are given the correct information when making the switch to an EV,” says GRIDSERVE. “Myths such as needing to charge an EV multiple times a day are circulating which is simply untrue. In fact, as the average real-world range of an electric car in 2023 is 219 miles, the average UK driver will be able to drive for almost a fortnight on a single charge!”

Is charging an electric car still cheaper than petrol?

Six common electric vehicle myths busted by experts

1. Myth: EV charging is now more expensive than petrol and diesel

It is widely believed that EV charging is more expensive than buying petrol. However, charging the UK’s bestselling EV in 2022, the Tesla Model Y, from 0 to 80% (the recommended capacity by most manufacturers) would cost as little as 16p per mile. This is based on a Tesla Model Y Long Range using one of GRIDSERVE’s High Power chargers at 66p-per-kWh.

The average driver in the UK covers 6,800 miles per year, meaning it would cost £1,088 per year for charging at the above rate. However, the average petrol or diesel car costs 19.6p per mile*, which would cost drivers £1.332.80 per year – £244.80 more expensive than public EV charging.

Furthermore, charging an EV at home is even cheaper, as it currently costs 34p per kWh to charge at a domestic charge point, around 9p per mile. Therefore, GRIDSERVE has calculated it would cost £612 a year to charge an EV from home – less than half the cost of filling a petrol or diesel car each year.

2. Myth: You should always be charging at the highest quoted charging speeds

A common myth is that your EV should be charging at its peak rate for the full duration of its charge and if it doesn’t, the charger hasn’t achieved its quoted speeds. However, this is not true; each EV has a charging curve which dictates the speed of charging at different levels of battery capacity.

The maximum speed tends to peak at lower charge percentages and as it approaches 80%, it will slow down significantly to protect the battery. So, the charger should never be charging at its peak speed for the full duration of a charge as this would not be good for your EV. It’s also worth noting that maximum charging speeds aren’t only dictated by your car, but by the charger you’ve plugged into.

3. Myth: You will need to charge your car multiple times a day

Most EV drivers won’t need to charge each day, a far cry from the common myths of multiple times a day or every night. The average real-world range of an electric car in 2023 has topped 200 miles for the first time, meaning the average UK motorist will now be able to drive for almost a fortnight on a single charge, based on the UK average mileage of 6,800 miles per year, or 131 miles per week.

You also don’t have to charge your car to 100% each time you plug it in – most manufacturers recommend charging only 20-80% as this will help prolong battery life.

4. Myth: You can overcharge the battery

EVs have built-in battery management systems to prevent overcharging so even if you leave your car plugged in overnight, it is not going to overcharge. The battery management system will slow down the charging process once the battery is closer to 100%. If it does hit 100%, it will switch to trickle charging where the battery will recharge intermittently.

However, we do recommend charging to only 80% capacity, as this will help to prolong battery life.

5. Myth: You can’t charge your electric car in the rain

EV charging components are designed to withstand much tougher stuff than rain so you can charge your car no matter the weather. It is understandable why people may question this, with mixing water and electricity being a bad idea typically, however it is completely safe to charge your EV in the rain. You can even take an electric car through a car wash.

6. Myth: You have to wait for ages for your car to charge

The latest generation of high-power chargers have outputs of between 150kW and 350kW, so has the potential to add 100 miles of range in less than 10 minutes. This can easily be worked into your trips, whether taking a short break from driving or parking your car up while you run errands.

The time it takes to charge an EV is falling as the latest technology is rolled out. GRIDSERVE has trialed the UK’s fastest electric vehicle charger for public usage at its Braintree Electric Forecourt®. Capable of delivering a maximum output of up to 360kW, it can add approximately 100 miles to compatible EVs in less than five minutes, which demonstrates how quick nationwide EV charging could become before the 2030 deadline.

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