With fluctuating petrol prices prompting car buyers to consider the switch to electric cars, we examine the true cost of charging an electric vehicle, both at home and on the road.

What’s the real cost of charging an electric car in Australia?

It’s a tricky question to answer, given electric vehicles (EVs) all have different-sized batteries, public charging sites offer different rates of charge and at-home electricity costs vary depending on the time of day.

“Today, charging is generally consistent within networks, and prices don’t fluctuate like they do with petrol,” says Bernhard Conoplia, Head of Charging at Evie Networks.

“The difference in price is typically due to the charging speed that the charging station can deliver.

“The charging speed drivers experience is also caused by different cars having varied maximum charging speeds. The current battery charge is also a significant factor, as charging rates slow down to protect the battery when close to fully charged.”

In addition to charging costs, some stations may attract extra fees such as idle fees if cars are left in designated electric vehicle spaces after they’ve finished charging.

The good news is that a lot of public electric car charging is still free, including the NRMA’s network of more than 50 stations in New South Wales, as well as Tesla’s Destination Chargers, which are only open to Tesla drivers and provide up to 22kW of charging power.

Charging network Jolt also offers EV drivers the first 7kWh of charging free on its network of 25kW DC fast chargers – equating to roughly 15-20 minutes of charging time, or 45-50km of driving range.

However, the reality is that plenty of charging – particularly rapid and ultra-rapid charging – costs money, and if you’re charging at home, your electricity costs will inevitably be increased.

According to Tim Washington, CEO of Jet Charge, Australia’s largest electric vehicle charging infrastructure company, public charging is still a relatively small – but important – piece of the puzzle.

“Public charging networks are a small but important portion of overall EV charging throughput, which means that while they are prominent in people’s eyes, and important for the general public to buy EVs,” Mr Washington told Drive.

“However, it’s known that the vast majority of people charge at home or at work.

“According to recent reports, around 70 per cent of EV drivers have solar, and for those drivers, almost all of their charging happens during the middle of the day, which means their marginal cost of electricity is $0. Others charge overnight during off peak, when electricity prices are below $0.20c/kWh.”

While the notion of off-peak charging is appealing, a spokesperson for Origin Energy told Drive the “vast majority of customers are on flat tariffs – not on time of use/peak/off-peak tariffs”.

“For customers who are on time of use tariffs, charging in off-peak would obviously be cheaper than [the flat rate]. And charging during on-peak would be more expensive.”

To get an idea of the electricity cost for at-home charging, we asked Origin to compile an estimate of flat-rate charging costs for an electric car with a 60kWh battery.

Here are some examples of average flat electricity rates across a few of the states Origin Energy services:

Average electricity costs for at-home electric car charging in Australia

StateReference rate  c/kWh (flat rate)Charge cost (60 kWh battery)
ACT30.3270$18.20
NSW31.2363$18.74
QLD25.8170$15.49
SA40.1830$24.11
VIC24.4440$14.67

Calculations are for charging an EV with a 60kWh battery on the flat regulated tariff (or ‘reference price’) in each state. (Noting that in NSW and Victoria – this is an average of the tariffs across different network areas).

Meanwhile, for public electric car charging, we approached some of the major charging networks to get a rough idea of their charging costs, which can vary depending on location and charger speed.

Average cost of public electric car charging in Australia

Charging providerCost
Chargefox0-30c/kWh for standard AC chargers (up to 22kW)
40c/kWh for rapid DC chargers (up to 50kW)
60c/kWh for ultra rapid DC chargers (up to 350kW)
TeslaFree for Destination AC chargers (up to 22kW)
63c/kWh for Superchargers (120kW or 250kW)
Evie40c/kWh for fast DC charging (up to 50kW)
60c/kWh for ultra-fast DC charging (up to 350kW)
JoltFree for the first 7kWh
42c/kWh for fast DC chargers (25kW)
NRMAFree for rapid DC chargers (up to 50kW)

 

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