Ireland has been named as the fourth-most expensive European country in which to charge an electric vehicle (EV).
A lower cost of running is generally cited by most consumers as one of the key attractions of electric car ownership, and while taking power from a plug is always going to be cheaper overall than paying for liquid fuel, the fact that Ireland sits so high in the cost charts is concerning.
The survey was carried out by Switcher, an online service that allows consumers to chop and change their electricity providers, as well as other utility bills and financial services. The survey found that Germany is the most expensive country in which to charge an EV, with an average price of 30c per kilowatt-hour (kWh). That equates to €19 every time you fully charge an average 62-64kWh battery, or a cost of €6.27 per 100km travelled.
That’s still less than half the cost per 100km of running a diesel car (assuming your notional diesel car records average fuel economy of 6.5-litres per 100km).
The next most expensive country is Denmark, then Belgium and then Ireland. Here, we are paying an average of 24c per kWh, or €15 to charge an average EV from flat to full. For every 100km travelled, an average Irish EV owner will pay €4.97 in electricity costs.
Again, that doesn't sound like much, but compared to some of the rest of our European neighbours, we're paying through the nose. The cheapest charging rate of all is in Ukraine, which charges just 5c per kWh, leading to €2.91 cost for a full battery charge, and a mere 96c per 100km.
Okay, so Ukraine is only just about in Europe. How about somewhere a little closer to home? Well, in Hungary they're paying just 10c per kWh (€6.44 for a full battery, €2.13 per 100km). Iceland, which of course generates all of its electricity from clean geothermal power, charges 13c per kWh (€8.38 for a full charge, €2.76 per 100km).
Norway, Europe's most successful country when it comes to convincing people to switch to electric cars, charges the same as Iceland. With Ireland so often having been touted as an ideal country for EV use (mostly flat, quite small, semi-State utilities) surely we should be down with the Nordics when it comes to charging costs?
Eoin Clarke, managing director of Switcher.ie, said: "It's incredibly promising to see the sale of electric cars increasing across Europe. Not only is the increase fantastic news for the environment but it could also be great for your wallet. If you're considering getting an electric car but aren't sure where to start, do your research into different schemes and incentives your country offers. You want to make sure you're getting the best deal and maximising your savings."
A spokesperson for Electric Ireland defended Irish charging costs, saying that the headline figure was misleading, and that EV owners could – with a little effort – achieve much lower costs.
“Electric Ireland recently launched its Home Electric+ plans for homes with smart meters installed which will help customers learn more about their energy usage, decrease their overall electricity usage and reduce their bills by availing of cheaper electricity at different times of the day. Customers who choose Home Electric+ Night Boost can charge their electric vehicle for as little as 5c per kWh or Home Electric+ Weekender offers Saturday or Sunday electricity for free from 8am to 11pm.”
If you can get that 5c per kWh cost, then you’d be matching those lucky Ukranian EV users.
“For an EV owner on the Electric Ireland Home Electric+ Night Boost tariff, charging a typical EV can charge the car fully for half the cost indicated in the survey,” said the Electric Ireland spokesperson.
“Electric Ireland customers can avail of our new 7kW Smart EV Home Chargers from just €499 for a standard installation (after Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland grant). We also advise that EV customers contact Electric Ireland to find out more about night rate electricity tariffs which are well suited for EV charging.”
The Switcher survey refers to charging at home – which most EV owners are expected mostly to do – but the cost of charging rises rapidly when you’re out and about. Hooking up to one of the latest generation of fast chargers can really sting you in the wallet, driving the cost of electric motoring up to diesel-style levels.
On the ESB's latest generation of 150kW rapid chargers, for example, you pay 37c per kWh, which would equate to €22 for a flat-to-full charge, plus an overstay; fee of €4.60 if you spend longer than 45-minutes on the charger. You can reduce that to 33c per kWh by becoming an ESB e-cars member, paying a €4.60 monthly subscription.
Ionity, the charging provider owned by a conglomerate of carmakers, including Ford, BMW, Hyundai and VW, charges even more. In fact, at 73c per kWh, Ionity is charging as much per kWh as we paid for a litre of petrol or diesel in living memory. A full charge of your notional 62kWh electric car at that rate is going to cost you €45.
Of course, you can defray that cost too. All of the carmakers involved in Ionity offer new EV owners special charging plans to go with their car that reduce the cost significantly.
A longer journey
Still, high prices are not going to help the electric motoring cause in its nascent years.
"Most EV drivers will use the Ionity chargers on a longer journey. This means also that the majority of charging transactions take place elsewhere, typically at home or at work where the car remains parked for several hours and where the driver pays a lower rate for the charged energy" said Pia Bretschneider, country manager UK and Ireland at Ionity.
“With Ionity the consumer has several benefits from our network: the fastest possible charging times enabled by the 350kW charging technology; a minimum of four charging points at each location, [thus] reducing the risk for a queue for an available charger; convenient locations on motorways with most sites offering 24/7 access to coffee, snacks and toilets, as well as charging with 100 per cent green energy at all stations in all countries.
“This means that we are making a significant investment into building up and operating high power charging stations in 24 countries across Europe and across Ireland. This also means that customers will feel confident in the fact that they can access high-power EV charging at any time and will have a reliable service that can take them further afield. Something which we know customers will be willing to pay more for.”