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Mythbusting the world of EVs: are energy prices killing electric cars?

With electricity prices on the rise, what's cheaper? And what's the underlying issue at play here?

Published: 23 Jan 2023
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MYTH: “Energy prices are killing EVs”

Spiking electricity prices have brought a spate of screaming headlines: “Shock – charging an electric car is as expensive as refuelling a diesel.” Yes, on average, the electricity price has gone skyward. But it’s still easy to travel cheaper per mile than diesel, and actually the public charger price is falling from its peak. Like the diesel price, which you might have noticed also had a convulsion.

Actually you could have done an ‘electricity dearer than diesel’ trip any time in the past three years. Underlying all this is the extreme – and extremely upsetting – variability at any given time of electricity prices. The dearest high power DC chargers, Ionity, have been 69p/kWh since they began trading three years ago. That’s well over 20p a mile, meaning if a diesel is doing better than 40mpg it’s cheaper.

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But no one regularly charges at those. If you use public (not home) 7kW AC you’ll probably be around half that Ionity rate. If you plug in at home and have a tariff that responds in real time to local demand, you might still pay perhaps 10p/kWh overnight, or about 3p a mile.

It’s not even that simple. If I charge on my local lampposts and pay using the QR code on the post, it’s 49p/kWh. If I draw from the same socket at the same time at the same power but use the VW app supplied with the ID.4 I was driving, it’s 76p. Most manufacturer apps have the same problem. I mean, huh?

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